London Olympic hopes slipping away

2 years ago, 6 February 2012 (AEST)

The Australian Under 23s hopes of the qualifying for the 2012 London Olympic Games hang in the balance after losing 0-2 to Uzbekistan in their AFC Asian Qualifier for the 2012 London Games match played at the JAR Stadium in Tashkent overnight.

Due to extreme low temperatures the kick-off time for the match was moved from 8pm to 3pm, but with the mercury around -12 C it was of little comfort to the players.

The Qantas Australian Under 23s started strong with Mate Dugandzic and captain Oliver Bozanic each having shots on target in the opening ten minutes.

But with a snow covered, frozen pitch making passing and touches difficult, it was never going to be a free flowing, technical game of football.

Uzbekistan took the lead in the 27th minute when Oybek Kilichev set up Kenja Turaev who hit a long range shot giving Qantas Australian Under 23s goalkeeper Mat Ryan no chance of saving.

Soon afterwards Jason Hoffman looked to have an equaliser for the Qantas Australian Under 23s but was adjudged to have scored from an offside position.

The second half saw both teams create opportunities at both ends but the quality of the build-up play and finishing was severely hampered by the pitch conditions.

Just after the hour mark Mitch Nichols also seemed to have netted an equaliser, but his attempt was denied after the referee blew for an infringement in the box in the lead up to the goal.

Oleg Zoteev sealed the result for the Uzbeks in the 86th minute with a sublime volley from outside the box which hit the underside of the crossbar and went into the net.

Later in the day UAE managed to hold on for a 1-0 win over Iraq, which kept Australia's slim hopes of qualifying for the 2012 London Games alive.

The Australian Under 23s will now return to Dubai to prepare for their next AFC Asian Qualifier for the 2012 London Games match against the UAE on the 22 February.

As part of their preparations for that match they will play an international friendly against the Philippines at the Al Nasr Stadium on Thursday 16 February (Kick-Off 8pm local, 3am AEDT).

Uzbekistan 2 (Kenja Turaev 27, Oleg Zoteev 86)
Australian Under 23s 0

Football Federation Australia