Dubai: As a record six Asian nations participating in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 head for their final international break ahead of the November tournament, squad selections have left several players with fighting chances of making the cut once the final squads are announced in under two months’ time.
Far from being business as usual, September’s call-ups included numerous debutants, returning veterans and surprise inclusions for all of Australia, Japan, Korea Republic, Islamic Republic of Iran and Saudi Arabia while Qatar continue their preparations with a fixed extended squad that has been in a closed camp since June, with no fresh squad announcements made.
Kuala Lumpur: It's the final international window before the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and Asia’s six representatives at the global showpiece will be looking to fine-tune their performances in their upcoming friendlies.
Australia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Japan, Korea Republic, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are all in action in the coming days as they continue their preparations towards football’s greatest spectacle.
With the competition in Qatar drawing ever closer, the-AFC.com has selected six things to look out for in matches ahead.
Moriyasu names Japan's 30-man squad ahead of friendlies
Tokyo: Japan head coach Hajime Moriyasu has included four of the squad that won July’s EAFF E-1 Championship title in his 30-man selection for the Samurai Blue’s pre-FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 friendlies against the United States and Ecuador in Germany later this month.
Shogo Taniguchi, who captained a second-string outfit to victory in the regional tournament ahead of Korea Republic, has been included alongside his Kawasaki Frontale clubmate Miki Yamane as well as Nagoya Grampus’ Yuki Soma and Shonan Bellmare’s Shuto Machino.
Langerak makes Socceroos return, Arnold names newcomers
Sydney: Goalkeeper Mitch Langerak has been lured out of retirement for Australia’s pre-FIFA World Cup™ Qatar 2022 friendlies against New Zealand later this month as Socceroos head coach Graham Arnold named a 31-man squad that also features newcomers Garang Kuol and Jason Cummings.
Nagoya Grampus’ Langerak quit international football during the qualifiers due to Japan’s stringent COVID-19 travel restrictions, but has been convinced to return by Arnold to add competition to first-choice Mathew Ryan and World Cup qualifying hero Andrew Redmayne.
Sydney: New Socceroos call-up Garang Kuol will celebrate his 18th birthday on Thursday knowing he could become Australia’s youngest international in a generation when Graham Arnold’s FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022-bound squad face New Zealand in a pair of friendlies later this month.
The Central Coast Mariners striker will become the youngest player to represent Australia since former Leeds United and Liverpool winger Harry Kewell in 1996 should he feature when the Socceroos face the All Whites on September 22 and 25.
#AFCU20 Qualifiers - Stage set for exciting finale
Kuala Lumpur: Nine teams will confirm their places in the AFC U20 Asian Cup™ Uzbekistan Finals on Sunday.
The winners of the nine groups that will conclude on Sunday will join Uzbekistan in the Finals while the teams that finish as runners-up will have a fair indication on whether they will progress despite Group H - consisting Australia, Iraq, India and Kuwait - only to be decided in October.
the-AFC.com takes a look at how the groups stand ahead of Sunday's matches.
Azkals legend Stephan Schröck looks to the future of Filipino football
Manila: From scoring the Philippines’ first-ever AFC Asian Cup™ goal to helping United City become the first Filipino side to win a game in the AFC Champions League, Stephan Schröck is a man used to playing a key role in football history for his nation.
Now 36 years old, the midfielder is looking to make his mark on the future generations of the Azkals when he was appointed both captain and among the coaching staff of the Azkals Development Team (ADT) ahead of the 2022-23 Philippines Football League (PFL) season which kicked off last month.
In an exclusive interview with the-AFC.com, Schröck revealed his motivations behind the move, his views on football development in his country, and the short and long-term futures for the game in the Philippines.