It has been a hectic opening to the year in Asia, with four continental competitions in process. 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ qualifying has entered the decisive stage, while 20 teams have begun their bid for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup. Top clubs are targeting early progression in the AFC Champions League, while the same can be said of those leading the way in the second-tier AFC Cup. Catching some of the headlines are a series of fresh talents, who are heralded as the continent's most promising future stars. Join FIFA.com as we profile some of the continent's burgeoning starlets.
Abdulaziz Al Muqbali
Forward, 23, Al Taawon and Oman
Four international goals within a mere six days is just part of the reason for Oman’s Abdulaziz Al Muqbali’s growing reputation. Plying his trade with Saudi side Al Taawon, the Omani netted all three goals in March's friendly against Haiti, before going on to showcase his agility and pace by opening the scoring in Oman’s 2-2 draw with hosts Australia in a recent Brazil 2014 qualifier.
Ahmad Al Douni
Forward, 24, Al Riffa and Syria
Last December's WAFF Championship saw unfancied Syria claim their maiden regional title. The team were indebted to Ahmad Al Douni, who finished as the tournament's joint top-scorer with four goals. He has maintained his prolific form with Al Riffa this year, smashing home four times as his side remain in the hunt for a place in AFC Cup Round of 16.
Forward, 22, Arbil and Iraq
The youngster's goal-scoring rate is remarkable even by Asian standards. 33 goals were the tally he reached in 2009/10 Iraqi Premier League season, a feat no one else had achieved for over a decade. Having finished last year’s AFC Cup as top-scorer with Arbil with nine goals, he has continued to cause havoc this season, being on target four times as his side established a six-point cushion at the summit. The question now is, of course, whether he can replicate his eye-catching form at international level.
Midfielder, 24, Bunyodkor and Uzbekistan
While many of his peers have proved to be a flash in the pan, Fozil Musaev has made steady progress down the years since representing Uzbekistan at the 2008 AFC U-19 Championship. Since moving to Bunyodkor at the start of this year, Musaev has struck twice as his club remain undefeated in this year's AFC Champions League, while featuring in his country's three most recent FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
Mustafa Al Bassas
Forward, 19, Al Ahli and Saudi Arabia
The striking teenager proved to be one of Al Ahli's biggest revelations in last year's AFC Champions League. Joining the Jeddah giants only last October, he made an immediate impact in the quarter-final clash against city rivals Al Ittihad, providing Victor Simoes with the assist that sealed their progression. Not surprisingly, the lively youngster began this year's campaign in unstoppable fashion, grabbing three goals as Al Ahli sealed early passage to the Round of 16 with two games to spare.
Midfielder, 21, Al Ain and United Arab Emirates
It goes without saying that United Arab Emirates' new icon is among Asia's most sought-after stars by European clubs, following some outstanding showings for both club and country. A long-heralded talent for his sophistication on the ball, Abdulrahman helped UAE to their second regional title in this year's Gulf Cup during which he earned the Most Value Player award. And his performance is second to none at Asian level, contributing a goal and three assists as Al Ain downed the likes of Al Hilal and Esteghlal in the ongoing Champions League.
Forward, 20, Hamburg SV and Korea Republic
The son of a football academy coach, Son Heungmin has displayed not only hunger for goal but also determination and a level of composure that belies his tender age. Arguably the hottest prospect for Korea Republic, he was twice on target in Hamburg's 2-1 defeat of Mainz last week to extend his tally to 11 this season. Despite being used as a second-half substitute by national team Choi Kanghee, the 20-year-old came to the coach's rescue, coming off the bench to score a stoppage-time winner in their recently Brazil 2014 qualifier against Qatar.