Ones To Watch: Group A
Kuala Lumpur: A foursome of fearsome forwards are the main men to watch out for in Group A of the AFC U23 Championship 2020 containing hosts Thailand, inaugural winners Iraq, Australia and Bahrain.
The quartet will go into the campaign on the back of a strong 2019 and, in what is likely to be a closely contested group, their countries' hopes of progressing to the knockout rounds of the AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 could rest upon their form in front of goal in Southeast Asia.
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One of the bright young hopes of Thai football, Buriram United forward Supachai Chaided is already a regular for the senior national team and was on the scoresheet in the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 Round of 16 match against China PR last January.
The recently turned 21-year-old boasts a wealth of experience for his age having also played two seasons in the AFC Champions League and, on home soil, it is Supachai more than any other player the local support will look towards to fire the hosts deep into the competition.
Three goals in qualifying saw Murad Subeh top Iraq's scoring chart en route to sealing their place in Thailand and the Al Kahrabaa forward will again be among the Lions of Mesopotamia's main attacking threats in Southeast Asia.
Subeh has big boots to fill, with frontmen Mohannad Abdulraheem firing Iraq to glory in the 2014 edition and again, along with Aymen Hussein, scoring the goals that saw the West Asians qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Al Hassan Toure
What a few months it's been for Al Hassan Toure, with the Guinea-born teenager scoring on his Adelaide United debut in August and going on to help his side win the FFA (Football Federation Australia) Cup later in the year, scoring in the final against Melbourne City in a man-of-the-match performance.
The debut goals kept coming as the 19-year-old netted on his first A-League appearance, against Sydney FC, and again when he turned out for the Olyroos for this first time in a friendly tournament in China. If Toure begins 2020 like he ended 2019, Australia's dream of returning to the Olympics for the first time since 2008 may just become a reality.
Mohamed Al Hardan
Part of a senior Bahrain side that have enjoyed a stunning 2019, winning the WAFF (West Asian Football Federation) Championship and the Gulf Cup, Mohamed Al Hardan will go into the AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 brimming with confidence.
The forward scored two crucial goals in qualifying in March as Bahrain advanced to the tournament for the first time, while the 22-year-old netted the only goal of the game as the West Asians' senior team claimed a famous 1-0 victory over the Islamic Republic of Iran in the Asian Qualifiers in October.
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