It’s a hard and long road to Germany 2006 and they don’t come much rockier than the paths from the inhospitable terrain of Central Asia.
Uzbekistan are aiming to become the region’s first ever representative at football’s showpiece event but despite lying bottom and winless at the bottom of Group A in the final stage of Asian World Cup qualifying with only one game remaining, the dream is not dead.
An automatic qualification place is out of reach but if the former Soviet Republic defeats Kuwait in Tashkent on August 17, third-place and a play-off with Bahrain awaits.
A victory over Bahrain, the third-placed team from Group B, will earn Bobby Houghton and his new charges another two-legged showdown with the fourth team from the CONCAFAF region with a place in Germany at stake.
The form of the team has been a surprise …