Kuala Lumpur: The 2022 AFC U23 Asian Cup qualifying campaign kicks off on Saturday with 39 teams from across the continent battling it out for the 15 remaining places at the tournament in Uzbekistan next year.
As ever, some of Asia’s finest young talent will be on display in the 11 qualifying groups, and the-AFC.com has identified some of the key players to look out for.
Vote for your Best Goal of the 2021 AFC Champions League Quarter and Semi-Finals
Kuala Lumpur: The 2021 AFC Champions League finalists have been confirmed after an action-packed few days which saw both the quarter-finals and the semi-finals held in Saudi Arabia and Korea Republic.
The six games produced some incredible drama with sizzling action, penalty shootouts and, of course, some stunning goals. The-AFC.com has selected five of the best and ask you, the fans, to vote for your favourite at the foot of the article.
Young stars ready for action at the AFC U23 Asian Cup Uzbekistan 2022™ Qualifiers
Kuala Lumpur: The stage is set for Asia’s future stars to shine when the AFC U23 Asian Cup Uzbekistan 2022™ Qualifiers kick off on Saturday in centralised venues.
With the excitement building up, 39 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Member Associations (MAs) will be vying for 15 available spots to join host Uzbekistan at the keenly anticipated AFC U23 Asian Cup in 2022, which will be staged in the Central Zone for the first time in Asian football history.
Magic Mitoma, Al Ammari, Alipour and more: Vote for your AFC International Player of the Week
Kuala Lumpur: Many returned to club duty after a crucial international break, but there was little let up in quality from the Asian players plying their trade outside the continent.
Son Heung-min, Amir Al Ammari and Ali Gholizadeh hit the ground running after returning to their respective European homes, Kaoru Mitoma scored a sensational hat-trick in Belgium while Tang Jiall struck a blow for Chinese women’s football in England.
But who deserves the title of AFC International Player of the Week? Study our 10 nominees – based on performances from October 13 to 19 – and don’t forget to register your vote.
Grant: Pohang Steelers have the belief to go all the way
Jeonju: An emotional Alex Grant hailed Pohang Steelers’ ‘amazing achievement’ after a penalty shootout win over arch-rivals and holders Ulsan Hyundai saw the Australian defender and his teammates into the 2021 AFC Champions League final.
Following a goalless first half, the defending champions took the lead on 52 minutes via Yun Il-lok’s close-range finish but after captain Won Du-jae’s 68th minute sending off Pohang took full advantage of their numerical superiority with Grant rising highest to head home the equaliser a minute before normal time.
Grant’s fellow defender Dave Bulthuis then missed the opening spot-kick for Ulsan with the remainder of the penalties coolly converted by both sides leaving captain Kang Sang-woo to net the winner for Pohang.
Nasaf's Berdiev congratulates players, but warns of Alikulov absence
Nasaf: Head coach Ruzikul Berdiev congratulated his FC Nasaf players on reaching the 2021 AFC Cup final, but warned that they may need to play the decider without Khusniddin Alikulov, after Wednesday’s 3-2 extra-time win over Lee Man of Hong Kong.
Strong favourites to advance in front of a 10,000-strong crowd at Markaziy Stadium, the Uzbekistan Super League side looked a class above in the first half, going ahead within four minutes through a Fernando Recio own goal before Khusain Norchaev doubled the lead with his seventh goal of the tournament.
But Lee Man refused to wilt, and managed to force extra-time after goals from Gil Martins and Jose Angel, before substitute Andrija Kaluđerović delivered the decisive goal in the 106th minute to spark jubilant scenes of celebration.