Bangkok: Akira Nishino will delve deep into his coaching past for inspiration as he looks to lead hosts Thailand past Saudi Arabia and into the semi-finals of the AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 at Thammasat Stadium on Saturday.
Nishino famously led his native Japan to the Finals of the Olympic Games in 1996, ending the country’s 28-year exile from the competition with a landmark victory over Saudi Arabia in the qualifying tournament for the Atlanta Olympiad in Kuala Lumpur.
Now, almost 24 years later, he comes face-to-face with the same opponents with designs on leading Thailand into the last four and a step closer to claiming one of the three tickets available for this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Thailand 2020 - Vote for your Goal of the Group Stage
Bangkok: With the AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 moving into the crucial knockout stage, we reflect on some of the best goals from the group stage and ask you the fans to select your favourite.
Long-range screamers, stunning free-kicks and superb team moves, the AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 group stage saw goals from all angles and distances to delight lovers of Asian football across the Continent.
Bangkok: As the AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 enters the knockout stage, the eight remaining teams will be targeting not just Continental glory but also the three tickets available to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Having survived a tough group campaign, the teams will be aiming to move one step closer to realising their dream of lifting the trophy and sealing berths in the Olympics.
Join the-AFC.com as we take a look at a key player from each team ahead of this weekend's quarter-finals.
Bangkok: With the United Arab Emirates and Jordan progressing from Group D on Thursday, the AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 quarter-finals lineup has now been confirmed.
The successful duo join Australia, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Korea Republic and Uzbekistan in the last eight with a place in the competition’s semi-finals – as well the potential of moving a step nearer to sealing a place at this year’s Olympics – at stake.
With all still to play for, join the-AFC.com as we take a closer look at the teams’ journeys so far.
One step at a time for Saudi Arabia as Olympics beckon
Bangkok: Head coach Saad Alshehri believes Saudi Arabia have achieved nothing yet despite his side securing their place in the AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 quarter-finals on Wednesday.
Feras Al Birakan’s 80th minute goal in a 1-0 win over regional rivals Syria - who also qualified - saw Saudi Arabia top the Group B standings and head into the next round having won two of their three group stage fixtures.
Although delighted to have guided Saudi Arabia through to the last eight, Alshehri is adamant that there is more work to be done if the West Asians are to realise their ambition of qualifying for this year’s Olympics.
Bangkok: Head coach Akira Nishino believes his Thailand players have proved themselves more than capable of competing with Asia’s finest after they reached the AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 quarter-finals following Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Iraq.
Jaroensak Wonggorn’s first-half penalty ultimately proved enough for the Thais to advance to the last eight as runners-up in Group A following last week’s win over Bahrain and loss to table-topping Australia.
With Thailand now set to face the winners of Group B in the knockout phase, Nishino wasted little time in praising his charges after a night of high drama at the Rajamangala Stadium.
Atieh: Jordan are closer to realising Tokyo 2020 dream
Buriram: Jordan’s Mohammad Bani Atieh believes there’s room for improvement after seeing his side finish second in Group D of the AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 following their 1-1 draw against the United Arab Emirates on Thursday.
Ahmed Abu Ismail’s charges had their work cut out for them against UAE after falling behind to Zayed Al Ameri’s strike going into the break.
But a late equaliser from defender Ihab Ali Al ensured Jordan finished second in the standings on five points behind UAE on goal difference.