Jaloliddin Masharipov is confident Uzbekistan can further establish themselves among Asia’s elite after picking up a 1-1 draw with Australia at Al Janoub Stadium on Tuesday to confirm their place in the knockout rounds of the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023™ as Group B runners-up.

Masharipov was introduced from the bench with the Central Asians trailing to a first half Martin Boyle penalty and the winger delivered the cross from which Azizbek Turgenboev headed in his side’s equaliser 12 minutes from time.

The point guaranteed Uzbekistan finished second behind the Australians and Srecko Katanec’s side will take on the runners-up in Group F in the next round of the continental championship next week.

Masharipov’s performance earned the 30-year-old the Player of the Match award and he name-checked legendary Uzbekistan player and coach Mirdjalal Qasimov has he outlined the ethos driving the White Wolves into the next round.

“Now all the national teams have learned a lot and know how to play,” said the Greece-based winger. “The most important thing is to work hard and we’re trying to work hard in every training and to follow all of the instructions of our head coach.”

“Mirdjalal Qasimov says if you want to improve and increase your level as a player it’s not the names that decide who wins on the pitch, it who works hard who gets the victory. We are trying to follow all the instructions of the head coach.

“Australia are a good team, but we’re well organised. We are trying to do well in possession and also work without the ball and if we continue to work like this we can be one of the best teams in Asia.”

Uzbekistan went into the game having never scored against the Socceroos in four previous meetings, with the country’s best result a 0-0 draw in the last 16 of the AFC Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates in 2019. However, Australia prevailed in a penalty shoot-out.

After also drawing with Syria and defeating India in the group phase, Masharipov said retaining their focus for the duration of the game had been key to the outcome.

“Games against Australia are always very important and special for us, we have some tradition of playing against Australia and we’re happy we could end up with this point,” he said.

“Previously we had never scored against Australia, so we were able to change that statistic.

“We wanted to improve our game and we were able to do it, so we played for a successful result and we tried to accomplish all the instructions of the coach. He asked us not to lose concentration and to give everything on the field.”