23 Under-23: Mid-Group Stage Update - West players

Published on: 07 April 2017

Kuala Lumpur: With the 2017 AFC Champions League Group Stage now at its halfway point, The-AFC.com take a looks at how 23 of the hottest prospects under the age of 23 have fared in their opening three matches, starting with those from Asia’s West Zone.


Age: 22
Club: Al Ain
Minutes played: 259

One goal in three games for Caio in Al Ain’s unbeaten start to the competition marks a stellar start for the Brazilian, while the forward’s 11 attempts on goal is more than any of the other under 23 players on the list and joint fifth highest on the continent to date.

Almoez Ali
Age: 20
Club: Lekhwiya
Minutes played: 84

Almoez Ali has come off the bench in each of Lekhwiya’s three group stage matches, winning four duels and posting a passing accuracy of more than 80% as the Qatari side seek to advance to the last 16 for the third successive year.

Leo Bonatini
Age: 23 (22 years old at beginning of ACL2017)
Club: Al Hilal
Minutes played: 211

Despite an impressive scoring record in Saudi Professional League, Leo Bonatini has yet to find the back of the net on the continent but the striker has started two of three games as Al Hilal sit second in Group D at the midway stage.

Farshid Esmaeili
Age: 23 (22 years old at beginning of ACL2017)
Club: Esteghlal
Minutes played: 170

After scoring in Esteghlal’s 2-0 victory over Lokomotiv on Matchday Three, Farshid Esmaeili can reflect on a strong showing in his opening three Group A fixtures in which he started two and won an impressive 17 duels to help the Iranian side to the top of the standings.

Mohamed Jamal
Age: 22
Club: Al Jazira
Minutes played: 241

Midfielder Mohamed Jamal has made more successful passes (106) than any of the under 23s in the West, although Al Jazira have endured a disappointing campaign to date, losing all three of their Group B games.

Ahmed Rashid
Age: 20
Club: Al Wahda
Minutes played: 203

Ahmed Rashid has started two of Al Wahda’s three Group D games and came off the bench in the other, winning nine duels in just over 200 minutes. Al Wahda sit bottom of Group D but, just four points off second place, remain in the hunt for last-16 qualification.

Dostonbek Khamdamov
Age: 20
Club: Bunyodkor
Minutes played 270

Dostonbek Khamdamov’s passing accuracy of 83.13% from 83 passes is the best ratio of his under 23 counterparts in the West and his 25 crosses is the second highest on the continent. The midfielder got on the scoresheet in the 3-2 defeat to Al Ain, but Bunyodkor are still seeking a first win.

Ali Alipour
Age: 21
Club: Persepolis
Minutes played: 20

Two substitute appearances in three Group D games have given Ali Alipour a taste of AFC Champions League action and that experience may prove vital if the forward is to play a part in Persepolis advancing to the knockout stages.

Abdullah Al Amar
Age: 23 (22 years old at beginning of ACL2017)
Club: Al Fateh
Minutes played: 270

One of just three of our picks in the West to have played a maximum 270 minutes, Abdullah Al Amar has made 91 successful passes and has touched the ball more (203 times) than any of the other under 23 players in the West as Al Fateh remain in search of an unlikely round of 16 berth.

Mehran Derakhshanmehr
Age: 18
Club: Zobahan
Minutes played: 270

Another who has played every minute to date, left-back Mehran Derakhshanmehr has won more duels than any of his counterparts in the West, averaging seven a game, as Zobahan sit in a three-way battle with Al Ain and Al Ahli for two qualification spots from Group C.

Ahmad Al Harbi
Age: 22
Club: Al Ahli (KSA)
Minutes played: 0

Goalkeeper Ahmad Al Harbi is only one of the 11 under 23 players in the West who has yet to get any game time as his side Al Ahli lead the way in Group C and look good for a place in the last 16.

Photos: Lagardère Sports

Source: the-afc.com