Japan v Uzbekistan: Cuper not distracted by potential last-16 opponent

Australia is a potential opponent for Uzbekistan and Japan in the last 16, but Hector Cuper is focused only on topping Asian Cup Group F.

Published : Jan 17, 2019 00:33 IST

Uzbekistan boss Hector Cuper is focused only on topping group.
Uzbekistan boss Hector Cuper is focused only on topping group.

Uzbekistan boss Hector Cuper is focused only on topping group.

Uzbekistan coach Hector Cuper insists potential opponent in the last 16 of the 2019 Asian Cup will not cloud his focus in the side's final Group F game against Japan on Thursday.

A 2-1 triumph over Oman was followed by a 4-0 hammering of Turkmenistan to secure a safe passage to the knockout stages for Cuper's side.

Japan itself has six points from six, meaning the contest at the Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium will determine which side finishes top of the group.

Winning the group would mean a clash with the runner-up of Group E, while finishing second means a daunting task against defending champion Australia.

Cuper, though, insists that he is not looking beyond Japan and any changes he makes will be made to help the team win the game.

READ: Defending champion Australia made to sweat by Syria

"The most important thing is to win, it doesn't matter if we make some changes or not," he said.

"I don't like it when people say we should play depending on which rival we will meet in the next round. It doesn't matter to me who we are going to play. 

"Some are saying Australia is a tough opponent, but there may be some surprises. Even the team we think is a smaller team, at the end of the day they may win. 

"I coached in the UEFA Champions League and I have a lot of experience and I never used to choose to select my rivals. I used to play against any rival. The opposition doesn't matter."

Four-time winner Japan, whose triumphs have all come in the last seven editions of the Asian Cup, had to come from behind to beat Turkmenistan and it needed a contentious penalty from Genki Haraguchi to see off Oman.

And Japan boss Hajime Moriyasu, who is also contemplating changes, wants to see an improvement.

"From the two matches so far we have learned some things and there are some other things we want to improve. I want to sort that out before the game and show our best performance," he said.

"After the previous two matches I'm thinking of changing some players as we have a concept that we have been working on in training and I've been sharing it with the players during our meetings."


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