Dubai: Uzbekistan continued their encouraging pre-AFC U23 Championship form, earning a 3-1 win over Iraq in the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday.
Sherzhod Nasrullaev, Mirjakhon Mirakhmadov and Khojiakbar Alijonov were all on the scoresheet for Ljubinko Drulovic’s charges, while Munthader Sattar found the net for Iraq.
Uzbekistan’s win follows an earlier 4-2 victory over Iraq, as well as a 4-0 success against local club outfit Al Arabi, as the Central Asian side prepare to defend their Asian title in Thailand next month.
Success fuelling Vietnam's determination for further excellence
Hanoi: As 2019 enters its last days, Vietnam can look back on two years of phenomenal development with the runners-up finish in the 2018 AFC U23 Championship followed by numerous successes, climaxing with the Southeast Asian nation ending a 60-year wait for the SEA Games gold medal earlier in December.
Vietnam are now the undisputed kings of ASEAN football, having added the 2019 SEA Games gold to the 2018 AFF Cup title.
The results of the various national teams, explains Vietnam Football Federation Vice-President Dr Tran Quoc Tuan to the-AFC.com, has massively boosted interest in the game and the Southeast Asian nation is determined to take the next step forward.
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.
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.
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.
Qualifying for Tokyo 2020 vital for Australia, says Arnold
Sydney: Qualification for the Olympic Games in Tokyo next summer is “crucial” for the further development of Australia’s footballing talent says head coach Graham Arnold as the countdown continues towards the 2020 AFC U23 Championship in Thailand next month.
Arnold, who coaches the U23 side as well as the senior side, has been charged with leading his nation’s attempt to qualify for the Olympic football tournament in Japan as the Australians seek to secure a spot at the Finals for the first time since 2008.