Lebanon holds Uzbeks
Uzbekistan's disappointing start to the fourth round of World Cup qualifiers continued on Friday when they were held to a 1-1 draw by lowly Lebanon in Beirut.
The Uzbeks finished fourth in the Asian Cup last year and had started qualifying well, finishing top of their third-round group containing Asian Champions Japan, but their slow start to the next stage has left a first World Cup appearance already unlikely.
Things had started brightly in Beirut for the visitors who had Mirdjalal Kasimov in charge after the former boss replaced Vadim Abramov earlier this week following the 1-0 home defeat to Iran in the opening fourth-round match on Sunday.
They took the lead in the 12th minute through Jasur Hasanov, but that was as good as it got for the Uzbeks.
After narrowly avoiding going two down, Lebanon, competing at this stage of qualifying for the first time, drew level thanks to a goal by defender Ali Saadi in the 34th minute.
Kasimov recalled three of the five players who missed the Iran defeat after being banned by FIFA for gaining yellow cards on purpose in the previous round to avoid carrying them over and incurring a suspension.
But even with playmaker and Asian Player-of-the-Year Server Djeparov back in their team the Uzbeks could not find a winner as both sides settled for their first point of the fourth-round stage.
Qatar, who beat Lebanon 1-0 in Beirut on Sunday, host South Korea later on Friday in the day's other Group A match.