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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Oct, 11, 2005

Uzbek coach wants Bahrain assault

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Uzbekistan coach Bobby Houghton is hoping Bahrain will feel the urge to attack in front of their home fans in the second leg of the Asian Zone World Cup qualifying play-off in Manama on Wednesday.

Houghton watched his side fail to make the most of their chances in a disappointing 1-1 draw in Tashkent on Saturday in the first leg, which was replayed after the original match on September 3 -- which Uzbekistan won 1-0 -- was nullified by FIFA because of a refereeing error.

'The 1-1 draw may seem like a bad result but I am confident that they will play to win the next leg and will come forward, giving us more space to counter-attack,' Houghton, the former China national coach, told reporters.

'We can win 1-0, we can draw 1-1, we can draw 2-2 maybe, who knows.'

Bahrain need only a 0-0 draw to win on away goals and set up a play-off with the fourth-placed team from CONCACAF -- either Trinidad & Tobago or Guatemala -- for a place in the World Cup finals.

Houghton, however, believes Bahrain are unlikely to risk sitting back on their away goal.

'Believe me, we are still in with a good chance,' he said. 'It is very difficult for them to play for a 0-0 draw which would take them through.'

Bahrain coach Luka Peruzovic, meanwhile, must decide whether to field star striker Ala'a Hubail in the second leg.

Ala'a was the joint top scorer at last year's Asian Cup but has just recovered from a knee injury that has sidelined him since February.

He played just 15 minutes against Uzbekistan on Saturday.

'Ala'a showed that he's in very good condition, but I cannot say if he is going to play in the second leg or not. A player's condition changes everyday so I can only answer this question one hour before the match,' said Peruzovic.

Neither Bahrain nor Uzbekistan have previously played in the World Cup finals and would be Asia's fifth representative if they did qualify.

Japan, Iran, South Korea and Saudi Arabia have filled Asia's four automatic qualifying places.

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