Gallant Futsalroos defeated in opening game of AFC Futsal Asian Cup

Uzbekistan has defeated the Futsalroos 3-2 in their opening game of the Futsal Asian Cup, the first match in an AFC Futsal Asian Cup since 2016.

Head coach Miles Downie selected a strong and experienced starting five to get the tournament underway. However, his best laid plans were almost immediately undone – Jordan Guerreiro was forced off with an injury within the first minute.

Uzbekistan came out hard and the four-time runners up were applying the pressure in the early stages. Goalkeeper Domenic Badolato was regularly involved throughout the first half, showing his quality in the face of heavy attack.

The preparation of Australia showed when it was they who opened the scoring in the fifth minute. After being played the ball from Ethan De Melo, Wade Giovenali made a lovely turn away from his defender and smashed home a perfect finish into the top corner.

The goal sparked a period of Futsalroos pressure, with captain Shervin Keshavarz Adeli heavily involved in the action. Michael Kouta came agonisingly close in the 16th minute after some good work by Dominic Cox, but fired his shot just wide.

As the half wore on, Uzbekistan began to show their quality once more. Although they went into the break a goal down, it wouldn’t stay that way for long.

Uzbekistan equalised, then took the lead, within the first minute of second half play. First Usmonov Akbar powered in a great finish at the near post, and then Rakhmatov Dilshod scored after a counter-attack to make the score 2-1.

The Futsalroos pushed, but were struggling to create clear-cut opportunities. When Rakhmatov scored his second to make it 3-1 in the 36th minute, it looked a tall order to get back into the game.

A timeout called by the coaching staff gave Australia a chance to reset. They used a power-play, and it almost paid off immediately, rattling the frame of goal. However, the mindset had shifted – when Tyler Garner scored after Scott Rogan’s good work in transition to make it 3-2, it was Uzbekistan who spent the final few minutes holding on for dear life.

Despite the best efforts of the Australians in attack, ultimately the group favourites showed their big tournament experience and were able to hold on for the win.

The team will take on Saudi Arabia on Friday as they attempt to bounce back and gain their first points in the group.

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