Home comforts can prove the difference, insists Supachok
Bangkok: Experienced Buriram United attacker Supachok Sarachak is aiming to fire the AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 hosts to new heights at January's Continental competition.
Thailand have appeared in two of three editions of the AFC U23 Championship but, unlike regional rivals Malaysia and Vietnam, they are yet to appear in the knockout stage, suffering group stage eliminations at Qatar 2016 and China PR 2018.
Now, with the tournament hosted on home soil, star forward Supachok believes that it could be Thailand's time to shine in the Continental competition.
Kadhim targets title and ‘historic’ Olympic qualification
Baghdad: Iraq captain Ali Kadhim has set his sights on lifting the AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 title and following in the footsteps of previous generations by qualifying for the Olympic Games in Tokyo next summer.
The Lions of Mesopotamia have a proud record in the AFC U23 Championship, winning the inaugural edition – when it was the AFC U-22 Championship – in Oman before finishing third in Qatar two years later to book their ticket to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
While they exited at the group stage in Brazil, the West Asians were unbeaten and secured an excellent scoreless draw with the hosts, who eventually won the competition.
Twelve years earlier in Athens, meanwhile, Iraq narrowly missed out on the bronze medal after finishing fourth following a closely fought 1-0 loss to Italy in the third place play-off.
Korea Republic get set for Thailand 2020 challenge
Seoul: Korea Republic have announced a 22-man roster for the AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020, leaving one spot open for the possibility of filling it with an European-based player.
In the running for the final spot are Lee Kang-in, who plays for Spanish club Valencia CF and midfielder Paik Seung-ho from German outfit SV Darmstadt 98.
Both Lee and Paik have played for the senior Korea Republic national team. Lee, 18, also starred for the U-20 national squad this year, leading Korea Republic to the final at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019 and winning the Golden Ball as the tournament's best player.
Noorafkan: ‘We’re a big team with a big heart and a great dream’
Tehran: Omid Noorafkan believes desire can help the Islamic Republic of Iran achieve their dream at the AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 as Team Melli prepare to return to the tournament for the first time since 2016.
The midfielder skippered the Central Asians as they advanced from a qualifying group that featured Iraq, Turkmenistan and Yemen after finishing as one of the best-placed runners up in March to book their ticket to the Continental competition, which also acts as the Olympic Games qualifiers.
Four years ago in Qatar, when Olympic qualification was also on the line, Iran progressed to the quarter-finals before defeat at the hands of Japan. After missing out on the U-23 showpiece in 2018, they return looking to go at least one better this time round a give themselves a chance of appearing at Tokyo 2020.
Kuala Lumpur: The AFC U23 Championship headed east for the first time in early 2018 as China’s Jiangsu province hosted the third edition of the Continental showpiece and a tournament that saw the emergence of stars that would shine on Asia's biggest stage a year later.
Almoez Ali and Nguyen Quang Hai were two names, in particular, that enjoyed superb campaigns for Qatar and Vietnam respectively, although it was the collective effort of Uzbekistan’s White Wolves that ultimately ruled supreme.
Elsewhere, hosts China disappointed while powerhouses Japan, Korea Republic and Iraq failed to live up to expectations in a tournament that once again served up many moments to remember.
Kuala Lumpur: The stakes were high ahead of the 2016 AFC U23 Championship in Qatar with the competition also named as the Olympics qualifying tournament and a place at the Rio de Janeiro Games on offer for the top three teams.
With 16 teams fighting it out for the right to be crowned Continental champions and book their tickets to South America it did not disappoint as fans in Doha were treated to a football extravaganza.
Fabulous goals, future household names and drama to the last, the-AFC.com looks back at one of the most memorable tournaments of recent years.
2014 Flashback: Perfect Iraq clinch inaugural title
Kuala Lumpur: The AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 is just a few weeks away as another year of football across the Continent will kick off with one of the most highly anticipated competitions, in which qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is also up for grabs.
Holders Uzbekistan will be looking to repeat their feat from China two years ago while Japan are aiming to return to the form that saw them lift the AFC U23 Championship trophy in Qatar in 2016.
But, after initially being scheduled to take place in mid-2013, the inaugural edition of one of the newest competition’s in the AFC calendar came in 2014 when – as the then AFC U-22 Championship – Iraq conquered all before them in a tournament that saw a number of Asia’s modern-day stars play key roles.