Uzbekistan's coach Mirjalol Kasymov has thanked Brazilian legend Zico for giving him inside tips ahead of his side's 1-1 FIFA World Cup™ qualifying draw with Asian giants Japan.
Zico, whose playing career ended in Japan, was the country's head coach at the 2006 FIFA World Cup finals. He has doubled as technical advisor to Kasymov since joining the Uzbek club Kuruvchi as coach last month. "I had a long talk with him (Zico) in Tashkent. Each and every piece of his information has helped me a lot," Kasymov said after the Central Asian country earned a precious point on Wednesday following the loss of their first two qualifiers.
He said Japan and Celtic playmaker Shunsuke Nakamura "made great passes with his left foot, as we had feared."
"We yielded a goal in the first half due to Nakamura's fine play and a mistake on the part of our defender," said the coach, who took over from Rauf Inliyev after the Central Asian side's two defeats in Group 1. "God may have been somewhat on our side but our players believed in their potential and I believed they could do it."
Maksim Shatskikh opened the scoring on a counter-attack in the 27th minute but Nakamura's lofty cross led to Keiji Tamada's crucial equaliser in the 40th minute. Yuji Nakazawa, one of Japan's two centre-backs, said: "."
I felt they had done a lot of homework on me. I couldn't find a space to move in on set pieces and I could not reach the ball
The Uzbek coach said earlier that Zico had named as danger men Nakamura, Nakazawa and another centre-back, Marcus Tulio Tanaka, as well as two other midfielders - Gamba Osaka's Yasuhito Endo and Makoto Hasebe of VfL Wolfsburg.
Zico, 55, who led Brazil in three FIFA World Cups as a player, won the Turkish league title with Fenerbahce last year after moving from Japan. "Zico is a very excellent coach and was an excellent player before. I will work with him as a matter of course. His experience will definitely help the Uzbek national team," said Kasymov.