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EghtesadOnline: The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has named Iranian football elite Sardar Azmoun as one of the five stars at AFC U-23 championship qualifiers.

“The 2018 AFC U-23 Championship qualifiers kicks off in under a fortnight, and Asia’s young elite will be taking centre stage, hoping to help their nations to glory,” AFC reports.

“With 40 teams, from West Asia, Central Asia, South Asia, ASEAN and East Asia, there are some superbly talented young players set to strut their stuff, many of whom have already been capped at senior international level or are key players at club level,” it says.

“We look back at five of the continent’s current stars who appeared in the previous two editions of qualifying for the AFC U-23 Championship (formerly known as the AFC U-22 Championship) and excelled,” it adds. 

“The young Team Melli netted 15 times in qualifying for Qatar 2016 and the then 20-year-old Azmoun – who had already shown his potential at the 2015 AFC Asian Cup in Australia - was in fine form, netting four times,” the AFC says.

According to IRNA, Azmoun was not among the players at the 2016 finals – by then Team Melli’s starting centre-forward – but he played a key role in helping his U-23 team-mates secure their place.

AFC also referred to Yuya Kubo from Japan, Omar Khribin from Syria, Jamie Maclaren from Australia and Hwang Ui-jo from South Korea as other stars.

AFC Iran soccer Sardar Azmoun