Songkhla: In-form Islamic Republic of Iran winger Mehdi Ghayedi believes his side are primed and ready to perform at the AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020, despite being drawn to play holders Uzbekistan in their Group C opener on Thursday.
While Iran are hopeful of ending a long-standing Olympic qualification drought, Uzbekistan are defending the title they won in China two years ago, with six players from the successful 2018 squad selected again this time around.
With Korea Republic and China PR also looming in one of the tournament’s most imposing groups, the Hamid Estili-led side has little margin for error, but Ghayedi is confident Team Melli Omid will produce from day one.
ACL has prepared me for Thailand 2020, says Korea Republic's Dae-won
Daegu: Korea Republic U-23 star Kim Dae-won excelled in 2019's AFC Champions League with club Daegu FC. And the exciting forward, with a knack for spectacular goals, believes his inaugural Continental club competition appearance has set him up nicely for next week's AFC U23 Championship.
Despite having already begun his professional career as a 19-year-old in 2016, last year's campaign proved to be a banner year for Kim who shot to prominence on the Continental club stage as part of an exciting Daegu FC side who made headlines in their AFC Champions League debut.
Deng: Graham Arnold has us ready for Thailand 2020
Kuala Lumpur: Australia are keen to make up for previous disappointments at the AFC U23 Championship and, ahead of Thailand 2020, veteran squad member Thomas Deng believes that under Graham Arnold the Olyroos could fulfill their potential.
Three editions of the AFC U23 Championship have come and gone and Australia, one of the heavyweights of the Continental game, are yet to better their quarter-final appearance since the inaugural tournament in Oman.
Indeed, when Olympic qualification was on the line at the 2016 tournament two years later, things got worse: they were unable to progress from the Group Stage.
Quang Hai: ‘Rainbow in the Snow’ is the symbol of Vietnamese spirit
Hanoi: As the AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 rapidly approaches, one of the stars of the 2018 edition has recalled one of the most iconic moments in the tournament’s history.
At a snow-clad Changzhou Olympic Sports Centre, Nguyen Quang Hai curled home a stunning free-kick to draw Vietnam level with Uzbekistan in the final with what would later become renowned in the Southeast Asian nation as the ‘Rainbow in the Snow’.
While the young Golden Stars went on to lose the match 2-1 after a goal in the last minute of extra-time, the campaign saw both Quang Hai and a talented young Vietnamese team gain recognition across the Continent and began a two-year period in which they have achieved success after success.
Now, with the 2020 edition set to kick off in Thailand on January 6, Park Hang-seo’s team will begin the competition among the favourites to lift the title and also qualify for the Tokyo Olympics as one of the top three sides.
We can show we’re Asia’s best, insists Korea Republic's Lee
Seoul: Lee Dong-gyeong believes that the AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 provides the perfect opportunity for Korea Republic to prove they are the best team on the Continent.
The East Asians have been one of the strongest teams in the competition over the years, finishing runners-up in 2016 and reaching the semi-finals in 2014 and 2018 but, despite always finishing in the top four sides, they have yet to lift the title.
Korea Republic will again begin the tournament as one of the favourites to be crowned champions and Ulsan Hyundai midfielder Lee is desperate for his country to claim a trophy that has so far eluded them.