Shaikh Salman hails Uzbekistan for historic AFC U20 Asian Cup™ triumph

AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has congratulated Uzbekistan on claiming their first-ever AFC U20 Asian Cup™ title after the hosts defeated five-time winners Iraq 1-0 in the AFC U20 Asian Cup™ Uzbekistan 2023 Final at the Bunyodkor Stadium in Tashkent on Saturday.

Roared on by a sold-out 33,834 capacity crowd, captain Umarali Rakhmonaliev’s successful conversion from the penalty spot in the 72nd minute earned the home side their maiden title. Consequently, the Central Asians joined the likes of Japan, Korea Republic, Saudi Arabia and Iraq as the only nations to have won the Asian title at the U17, U20 and U23 levels.

Shaikh Salman said: “On behalf of the Asian football family, I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to Uzbekistan, led by head coach Ravshan Khaydarov, on this historic victory and I have every faith that this achievement will serve as an inspiration to the entire football community in Uzbekistan.

“Credit must also go to Iraq for showcasing exceptional consistency and fighting spirit in a thrilling final, which once again exemplified the undeniable talent emerging from Asia.

“The Uzbekistan Football Association (UFA) also deserves our praise for their investment in strengthening their youth development system, which forms the cornerstone of success at all levels, and I am confident that this latest triumph is just a sign of more to come at the senior level in the coming years.

“We must also congratulate Japan and the Korea Republic as well as the two finalists for sealing their places at the FIFA U-20 World Cup, which will be held on our great Continent in Indonesia in May, and we wish all four teams the very best of success in their efforts to make Asia proud.”

The AFC President also took the opportunity to praise the efforts of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) and the UFA for their impeccable hosting capabilities and warm hospitality, outlining his confidence in the nation’s ability to stage the AFC U20 Women's Asian Cup™ next year after also successfully hosting the AFC U23 Asian Cup™ in June 2022.

“I would like to convey my sincere appreciation to the LOC and the Uzbekistan FA for its willingness to host the AFC’s competitions time and again in another clear example of Asian football unity,” added the AFC President.

“We must applaud them for their immaculate attention to detail and I am confident that the UFA will continue to provide an unrivalled and world-class stage for our players, teams and passionate football fans, as outlined in the AFC’s Vision and Mission.”

Relive all the drama and excitement from the captivating AFC U20 Asian Cup™ Uzbekistan 2023 here.

Eight teams set for Round 2 showdown at AFC U20 Women’s Asian Cup Uzbekistan 2024™ Qualifiers
The final hurdle awaits eight teams in their quest to clinch their spots for the AFC U20 Women’s Asian Cup Uzbekistan 2024™ as they gear up for Round 2 of the Qualifiers.
Australia, China PR, Chinese Taipei, Islamic Republic of Iran, Lebanon, Myanmar, Nepal and Vietnam will discover their opponents at the official draw in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Thursday at 3pm.
Having come through Round 1 – held between March 6 and 12 – by topping each of their respective groups, the eight teams will be divided into two groups of four in Round 2, which takes place from June 3 to 11.
Each group will play a one-round league format in a centralised venue, with the winner and runner-up from each group qualifying for the AFC U20 Women’s Asian Cup Uzbekistan 2024™ Finals. They will be joined by the three highest-seeded teams from the AFC U-19 Women’s Championship Thailand 2019 - Japan, DPR Korea, and Korea Republic – as well as host nation, Uzbekistan.
The names of the eight teams will be drawn from four pots, with the seedings based on the rankings of the AFC U-19 Women’s Championship Thailand 2019. The teams which did not participate in that tournament – IR Iran, Nepal, Lebanon and Chinese Taipei – have been added as the lowest-ranked sides. The two Host Member Associations will be determined at a later stage.
The seeding pots are as follow:
Pot 1: Australia and China PR
Pot 2: Vietnam and Myanmar
Pot 3: IR Iran and Nepal
Pot 4: Lebanon and Chinese Taipei
Watch the AFC U20 Women’s Asian Cup Uzbekistan 2024™ Qualifiers Round 2 official draw ceremony here on Thursday, March 23, 2023 at 3pm Kuala Lumpur time.

Asia’s best to converge at AFC Beach Soccer Asian Cup™ Thailand 2023
The quest to reach the pinnacle in Asian beach soccer begins in a week’s time when the AFC Beach Soccer Asian Cup™ Thailand 2023 kicks off on Thursday, March 16, 2023.
The showpiece returns under its new brand for a 10th edition and will also serve as the qualifiers for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup UAE 2023, which is scheduled to be played in November.
Four years after hosting the previous edition in 2019, the city of Pattaya takes centre-stage again for the 16 teams, who will aim to be the last one standing after 11 days at the picturesque Jomtien Beach Arena on March 26.
Defending champions Japan will take some stopping in their bid for a record-extending fourth title in their 10th appearance – joint-most with China PR and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
IR Iran, targeting a third crown to add to their triumphs in 2013 and 2017, will open the much-anticipated tournament with a Group B clash against Malaysia on March 16 at 3.30pm. Buoyed by reaching the Knockout Stage for the first time in 2019, the Malaysians will be keen to repeat the feat.
The other Group B encounter on the same day at 6.30pm will see the United Arab Emirates (UAE) take on Uzbekistan. Finalists in the last two editions, the UAE will aim to overcome the final hurdle this time, while their opponents are involved for the first time since 2015.
Sandwiched between the Group B matches is the Group A showdown between 2006 champions Bahrain and Afghanistan at 5pm. Thereafter, hosts Thailand take to the stage at 8.30pm to open their Group A campaign against Saudi Arabia, whose last appearance came in 2013.
The following day begins with Lebanon taking on China PR in Group C at 3.30pm, before Palestine face Kuwait in Group D at 5pm. Indonesia, making their second appearance after their debut in 2011 – the longest hiatus of any team – have the formidable task of going up against Japan in their Group C contest at 6.30pm.
Oman, who won the title in 2011, then round off the day with their Group D fixture against the Kyrgyz Republic.
Japan, who are the only Asian team to qualify for every edition of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup besides achieving a historic runners-up finish in 2021, will be determined to make it 12 in a row by finishing in the top three, which will help secure a berth at this year’s global event.
With the UAE automatically qualifying for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup as the hosts, the fourth-placed team in Pattaya will also make it to the sandy beaches of Dubai if the West Asians finish in the top three.
With every side vying for their day in the sun, the AFC Beach Soccer Asian Cup™ Thailand 2023 promises to be an enthralling tournament for players and fans alike.

All set for celebration of Asian women’s football
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and its Member Associations (MAs) will mark the 9th AFC Women’s Football Day today with a series of wide-ranging activities aimed at celebrating and promoting the continued progress of the women’s game in Asia.
Close to 13,900 participants from 37 MAs are expected to enjoy specially planned programmes and festivities, with some spanning across the entirety of this March.
Coinciding with the International Women’s Day, this edition is especially timely with the FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™ set to take place in July. With a record six Asian teams – Australia, China PR, Japan, Korea Republic and debutants Philippines and Vietnam – confirming their places in the global showpiece, participants will not be short on role models and inspiration in the pursuit of their footballing dreams.
AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa said: “It fills me with pride to say that the AFC is the first and only Confederation in the world to have a designated day to acknowledge the commitment of all the women who strive to make football the number one sport on the Continent, as outlined in the AFC’s Vision.
“Thanks to the unity and commitment of our MAs and Regional Associations (RAs), the women’s game in Asia has achieved phenomenal success in the past year.
“The performance of the women’s national teams and clubs has been a shining example of the tireless efforts of the MAs and RAs in enhancing the standards of professional women’s football in Asia and the progress made by Asian women on the pitch is matched by the success of our officials and administrators off the pitch.
“As we celebrate the history Asian women are scripting, let us also look forward to the many new chapters that we will write together in the firm assurance that the AFC will always work in close partnership with all of you to usher in a new era for the women’s game,” added Shaikh Salman.
As many as 31 MAs from last year have continued their involvement in this year’s AFC Women's Football Day, with Bhutan, Guam, India, Kyrgyz Republic, Northern Mariana Islands, Palestine, Singapore and Vietnam participating for the ninth time. There are also returns for the trio of Bahrain, Indonesia and Japan as well as Pakistan who celebrated the milestone occasion in 2019 and 2020 respectively.
This edition will also break new ground with the West Asian pair of Qatar and Saudi Arabia marking their first appearance with a range of activities. While Qatar will stage a football festival for girls aged 14 and below, Saudi Arabia have planned a fun-filled girls’ football festival in Riyadh featuring their senior women’s side, who made their international debut last year, as well as their U-17 starlets. 
In Guam, the AFC Women’s Football Day activities will serve as a platform for other social responsibility events. The Guam Football Association (GFA), which designates Sunday as a traditional day to host women’s events, will run the Sugar & Spice Middle School Girls Soccer Festival for 200 students across 12 schools as well as league games.
Surrounding that, the GFA will partner with other stakeholders to launch an anti-bullying campaign targeted at 24 elementary schools, raise cancer awareness and host a donation drive to benefit victims of crime and trauma as part of efforts to make an island-wide impact.

Highly acclaimed 7th AFC Medical Conference draws to a close in Doha

The 7th Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Medical Conference officially concluded on Monday in Qatar’s capital, providing over 600 delegates with a comprehensive overview of the latest advancements in sports science and medicine.

The landmark three-day event saw delegates updated on the challenges faced by sports science and medicine, as well as its best practices, and cutting-edge developments. These were presented via keynote addresses, lectures, symposia, poster presentations and clinical workshops.

AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, in applauding its success, emphasised the growth of the ground-breaking event into one of the leading medical conferences not only on the Continent, but also across the world of sport.

“Our Vision is to see our players and teams shine on the world’s biggest stages and the AFC Medical Conference is the perfect example of the AFC’s commitment to realise our ambitions,” said the AFC President.

“My heartfelt appreciation to all of you. We would not have reached this stage if not for your sacrifices, professionalism, passion and commitment to purpose.

“Together, I am confident that we will continue to raise our sport science and medicine standards and I have every faith that this conference will lead to new and exciting developments in sports medicine, even as the AFC introduces a new era of improved competitions in the coming years.”

Hosted by the AFC, the Aspetar Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine Hospital and the Qatar Football Association, the Conference brought together more than 120 highly regarded sports medicine and science professionals from the AFC, FIFA, UEFA, CONMEBOL, Confederation of African Football, the International Olympic Committee and Aspetar.

Themed “Football and Sports Medicine – Celebrating Diversity”, the Conference provided participants the means to successfully and proficiently handle football-related medical situations.

Endorsed by the British Journal of Sports Medicine for the first time, it also highlighted the return of football after the COVID-19 pandemic and the game’s growth with regards to diversity and inclusion.

The 3rd AFC Medical Awards ceremony was held simultaneously with the Conference to celebrate the efforts and contribution of medical professionals towards the development of football.

Appreciation awards were also presented to the Qatar Football Association, Aspetar Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine Centre, Aspire Academy, FIFA, UEFA, the Anti-Doping Laboratory Qatar and the Aspire Zone Foundation to recognise their support of and impact on the Conference and to ensure the event closed on a well-received note.

The momentum will soon shift to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where the biennial Conference will be hosted for the third time following the success of the 2000 and 2011 editions.