East & ASEAN Domestic Wrap: Iniesta leads Kobe into Emperor's Cup Final
Kuala Lumpur: Vissel Kobe, who number superstars Andres Iniesta, Lukas Podolski and David Villa in the line-up, are within a game of reaching the 2020 AFC Champions League after victory in the Emperor's Cup semi-final.
Elsewhere in East Asia, there was action in the Hong Kong Premier League as the league leaders enjoyed a big win and there was an intriguing battle between second and third.
Meanwhile in ASEAN, the Indonesian league came to a close with an exciting race for second place decided, while there was a full set of fixtures in Australia's A-League to enjoy.
Adelaide: Al Hassan Toure has experienced a whirlwind 2019 from heroics in the FFA Cup to scoring in his A-League debut and being called up to the Olyroos. And the new year is set to begin as the old one left off with the forward likely to play a key role in Australia's AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 campaign.
Prior to August 7, 2019, the Guinea-born teenager had not even begun his professional career let alone been on the brink of representing Australia at one of the biggest national team tournaments in Asia. But in a dream second half of the year, Toure has gone on to make headlines across the globe.
Just 12 minutes into Adelaide United's FFA Cup campaign, in his senior debut, Toure scored. And the goals kept coming, five in total including the opener in a 4-0 win over Melbourne City in the final, earning him the Mark Viduka Medal for player of the match.
Kuala Lumpur: Asian football will reach another historic milestone with the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system making its full tournament debut at the upcoming AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020, which is scheduled to take place across three cities – Bangkok, Buriram and Songkhla – between January 8 to 26, 2020.
Having made its successful debut from the quarter-final stage of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 in January, the AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 will be the first AFC competition to implement the VAR system in all 32 matches.
Qualifying for Tokyo 2020 vital for Australia, says Arnold
Sydney: Qualification for the Olympic Games in Tokyo next summer is “crucial” for the further development of Australia’s footballing talent says head coach Graham Arnold as the countdown continues towards the 2020 AFC U23 Championship in Thailand next month.
Arnold, who coaches the U23 side as well as the senior side, has been charged with leading his nation’s attempt to qualify for the Olympic football tournament in Japan as the Australians seek to secure a spot at the Finals for the first time since 2008.