Uzbeks more motivated admits Iran's U16 coach
A contrite Ali Doustimehr conceded that his side couldn't match Uzbekistan for motivation as the 2012 AFC U-16 Championship hosts bowed out of the competition with a 3-2 semi-final defeat to the Central Asians.
Iran made a flying start to the pulsating encounter at the PAS Stadium with Seyedmajid Hosseini's deflected free-kick giving the hosts the advantage with just four minutes played.
But goals from Doctonbek Khamadov (13th), Izzatilla Abdullaev (35th) and Otabek Shukurov (42nd) gave Uzbekistan a 3-1 lead at the interval and although Amirmohammad Mazloum gave Iran a glimmer of hope with two minutes remaining it was too little too late for the hosts.
"I'd first like to apologise to the fans, the Federation and the youth committee as well as the media and everyone else that has supported us that we didn't do the job we set out to do," a downbeat Doustimehr said at the post-match press conference.
"Uzbekistan played very well and were much more motivated for this match than us and I congratulate their coach for the victory. You saw how motivated we were against Australia well today the Uzbeks were twice as motivated as Iran."
Iran put in arguably the finest performance of the competition so far in the 5-1 annihilation of Australia that booked Iran's place in the semi-finals but Doustimehr believes that this may have been his side reaching its peak.
"One of the problems we had in this game was that we lacked motivation.
"Maybe we lost against the Uzbeks after the Australia match when we qualified for the World Cup and the players had thought the job was done.
"This seems to be in our sporting culture. We raise or game for the big teams and we always seem to want to do things the hard way even when it can be easy. This was a game of two halves. After we conceded three times in the first half we played much better in the second."
Doustimehr's counterpart Dilshod Nuraliyev said that his side was made to work hard for their place in the final and added that revenge for Uzbekistan's 2-1 loss in the 2008 AFC U-16 Championship didn't even enter the equation.
"This game against Iran was the toughest we have played so far. They are a very good side, very physical. I think maybe at times we got a little bit lucky but I want to thank my players for today's win.
"This match was never about revenge for what happened four years ago. That was a different team at a different tournament. I know the Iran coach very well and I was familiar with the Iran team because we played against them at a tournament in Azerbaijan.
"The final will be a difficult game whoever we play. Both Japan and Iraq are very strong teams."