Doha, 7 January 2024 - The 24 teams in the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 have confirmed their respective squads for the 18th edition of Asia’s premier national team tournament with plenty of interesting narratives at play.
From the oldest to the youngest as well as players looking to break records, the-AFC.com has picked out eight interesting facts from the squads.
Hassan Al Haydos (pictured) has 175 appearances for Qatar under his belt, making him the most capped player in the tournament.
The Al Sadd forward, who captained his side to the AFC Asian Cup title on home soil in 2019, will be making his fourth appearance in the competition at 34 years old, having also featured in the 2011 and 2015 editions.
The evergreen Sunil Chhetri comes in second with 145 appearances for India, while Islamic Republic of Iran’s Ehsan Hajisafi has 132 caps.
Of the 624 players registered for Qatar 2023, Thailand custodian Siwarak Tedsungnoen will be the oldest in the tournament. Born on 20th April 1984, the Buriram United goalkeeper will be approaching his 40th birthday when the tournament kicks off on January 12. Following closely behind are India’s Sunil Chhetri at just four months younger as well as Bahrain’s Sayed Jaafar who will be turning 38.
Promising young talents are set to make their mark in Doha. Among the rising stars, Beknaz Almazbekov from Krygyz Republic is the youngest player at 18 years and six months. Younger by two months is Iraq’s Montader Madjed with Marselino Ferdinan of Indonesia - born on September 9, 2004 - the third youngest.
Strong Johor Darul Ta’zim presence
Malaysian champions Johor Darul Ta’zim will have the largest contingent in Qatar 2023 with 15 players registered - 13 for Malaysia, Jordi Amat with Indonesia as well as new signing Jalil Elias in the Syrian squad. Three clubs are tied with 10 players each. Al Ahed FC have players in the Lebanon, Jordan and Syria teams while Al Sadd SC and FC Istiklol players are the core of the Qatar and Tajikistan squads respectively.
Qatar 2023 provides an interesting narrative as five teams - India, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Vietnam will be powered by home-based players with the likes of young talents such as Mahesh Naorem (India), Bassam Al Rawi (Qatar), Ali Saleh (UAE) and Nguyen Hoang Duc (Vietnam) set to stamp their mark on the continental stage.
At two metres in height, Australia’s Harry Souttar will be the tallest player in Qatar 2023. The centre-back, who plays his club football for Leicester City in the English Championship, is the obvious aerial threat for the Socceroos, scoring in consecutive Preliminary Joint Qualification - Round 2 for the FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027 matches in November. Qatar’s Homam Ahmed (199 cm) and India’s Gurpreet Singh (197 cm) are the next two tallest players in the tournament.
Pushing the boundaries
Qatar 2023 promises to be a captivating spectacle, featuring some of the continent’s most prolific marksmen. At the forefront is India’s Sunil Chhetri, who boasts an impressive tally of 93 national team goals. Following closely is Ali Mabkhout, a key figure for the United Arab Emirates, with 85 goals to his name. Islamic Republic of Iran’s Sardar Azmoun has 49 goals, creating an electrifying atmosphere as these seasoned strikers aim to etch their names in the tournament’s goal-scoring history.
Gunning for Nagatomo’s record
Yuto Nagatomo’s record of 16 matches played at the AFC Asian Cup is under threat by a clutch of players led by Korea Republic’s Son Heung-min and United Arab Emirates’ Ali Mabkhout who are both on 12 appearances.
Just one match less played are the trio of Mat Ryan (Australia), Zhang Linpeng (China PR) and Ehsan Hajisafi (IR Iran).