Experience and stability the keys for UAE's Al Hammadi
Buriram: Friday’s Group D opener between the UAE and Vietnam offers the Emiratis an opportunity to avenge their Asian Qualifiers 1-0 defeat in Hanoi, especially with many players from that game featuring for their nations’ U23 sides in Buriram.
One player who can’t wait to make amends is defender Khalifa Al Hammadi. The Al Jazira centre-back was on the receiving end of a red card minutes before Nguyen Tien Linh’s thunderous strike gave Vietnam a first-half lead that would prove to be the difference at the final whistle.
At Buriram Stadium, Al Hammadi will look to muster the experiences gained, not only in that match, but throughout a 2019 which saw him make his senior international debut in the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 and go on to establish himself as a key member of the UAE national team at the age of 21.
Vietnam's success can motivate neighbours, says Tien Linh
Buriram: Two years on from their runners-up finish in China PR, Vietnam go into the 2020 edition of the AFC U23 Championship as one of the favourites. And in Nguyen Tien Linh, they have a man who could well be the difference between silver and gold for them.
Back in January 2018, the Golden Stars were within seconds of a penalty shootout against Uzbekistan when Andrey Sodorov struck late in extra time to end the Vietnamese dreams of continental glory.
In the two years since, Vietnam lifted the 2018 AFF Cup, reached the quarter-finals of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, won the 2019 SEA Games gold and added more talents to their ranks including 22-year-old Tien Linh.
Buriram: A bit-part player in the 2018 AFC U23 Championship, midfielder Noor Al Rawabdeh has now grown into Jordan captain and the glue that holds coach Ahmed Abdulkadir’s side together as they look to make the dreams of a nation come true.
Jordan’s best performance at the competition came in 2013 when they navigated a group featuring hosts Oman alongside Korea Republic and Myanmar, before overcoming the United Arab Emirates in the quarter-finals en route to a semi-final defeat to Saudi Arabia and a shoot-out victory over Korea Republic that handed Al Nashama the bronze medal.
Since then, performances have been mixed and results unsatisfactory, but in 2020, and with several players boasting prior experience in the tournament and in other AFC competitions, Jordan are better placed than ever to go far.
Bangkok: The opening ceremony of the AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 caught the imagination of fans across the Continent on Wednesday with organisers presenting breath-taking performances to welcome Asia’s top 16 sides just moments before the curtain raiser between the hosts, Thailand and Bahrain at the Rajamangala Stadium.
Widely regarded as the ultimate stage for Asia’s rising stars, the tournament kicked off in style as performers greeted the players and teams in the nine languages represented at the tournament with four giant fabric banners showcasing the warmth and hospitality of the host nation.
Continental glory and Olympics qualification up for grabs at Thailand 2020
Bangkok: Asia’s rising stars will look to clinch both Continental glory and qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games when the AFC U23 Championship begins in Thailand on Wednesday.
A total of 16 teams will look to succeed Uzbekistan following their 2-1 triumph over Vietnam two years ago and Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, the AFC President, has sent his best wishes to the Continent’s future stars.