Goal.com profiles one of the most highly regarded young talents at the 2011 Asian Cup...The best goal of the 2011 Asian Cup was scored on the opening matchday by Uzbekistan's Odil Ahmedov against tournament hosts Qatar. Picking the ball up about 30 metres from goal, the Pakhtakor captain rifled the ball into Qasem Burhan's top corner to give his side the lead. It was an advantage they were to embellish towards the end of the game, through their most well known player Server Djeparov, once the recipient of Asia football's highest individual honour - the 2008 player of the year award.
Should Ahmedov continue along his expected career trajectory, he could follow the footsteps of his national team colleague into the consciousness of football fans across the continent.
The 23-year-old Ahmedov has been utilised in his side's opening two matches as a central defender due to an injury crisis despite his favoured position being in central midfield. The versatile right-footer claims that he is satisfied to take a step back on the field in order to facilitate his national team take two steps forward.
Under Vadim Abramov Uzbekistan are a competitive outfit and there is belief within the camp that the White Wolves can make waves at this year's edition of the AFC's showpiece tournament.
The coach told the-afc.com this week, “This is a big tournament, who wins this tournament is the best team. Every team at this tournament is very strong and I hope the quality of the football does not get less.
"I think we can cause some surprises and I hope Uzbekistan will be champion in this tournament, but there are many other good teams here so it will be difficult, but I hope it will be Uzbekistan.”
To progress and compete alongside the likes of South Korea, Japan and Australia, Uzbekistan will look to their recognised players Djeparov and Maxim Shatskikh as well as emerging talent like Ahmedov. The player who has his admirers in Russia's Premier League has, like his national team, been steadily improving over the past few seasons.
He came to prominence on the club scene last April when his hat-trick helped decide an Asian Champions League group encounter against Al Ain. Pakhtakor's continental adventure was curtailed at the last 16 stage but Ahmedov had done enough to alert clubs on the Old Continent to his talent. A tall player with fine technical capabilities, Ahmedov makes his biggest impact coming from a deep midfield position to supplement his teams' attack. Uzbekistan face China on matchday three of the Asian Cup with their place in the knockout round all but guaranteed. A strong showing in this competition and Ahmedov may be on his way to Europe.
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Watch Odil Ahmedov's goal against Qatar below: