Tajikistan fear TV audience more than Asian Cup champs Australia - Ergashev
Tajikistan's head coach Mubin Ergashev has admitted that he side is feeling the heat ahead of Thursday's World Cup qualifying match against Australia.
However, it's not the reigning Asian Cup champions that the Persian Lions are nervous to face. Ergashev's men are more worried about the Tajiks back home be watching the qualifier live on television.
Just three weeks ago, a new high-definition sports television channel started broadcasting in Tajikistan and the match against the Socceroos in Adelaide on Thursday night will be a prime attraction in the former Soviet state.
"Tomorrow, I think there will be a little bit of pressure because our people will watch this match on television," Ergashev, speaking through a translator, said on Wednesday in Adelaide.
"Three weeks ago, we opened a sports channel in Tajikistan in HD. It's the first HD channel in our country. Now in our country, half of the population are watching this channel.
"And it's like three million people watching.
"So for us, it's a little bit of pressure because, previously, we used to play away and there wasn't any broadcasting."
While expecting to be watched intently at home, Ergashev isn't expecting much support in Australia.
There are just 86 Australian-born residents of Tajik heritage living here. And just three of them reside in Adelaide.
The coach said a couple of friends of a friend would turn up to Adelaide Oval -- maybe.
If they do, they shouldn't expect to see much attack from the Tajiks, winners just once in six qualifying group games. Unlike Australia, they can't progress to the next phase of World Cup qualification, which leaves Ergashev pragmatic.
"A draw would be a perfect result," he said. "Our team used to play attacking football. But tomorrow, we can't do it.
"Everybody knows how we are going to play. Against the Socceroos, I don't think many teams can play not with defensive tactics."