Iran claimed a 2-0 victory over Syria to get their campaign off to the best possible start ©AFC

Iran striker Amir Motahari scored one and set up the other as his nation got their Asian Football Confederation Under-23 Championships campaign off to a winning start by beating Syria 2-0 at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha.

Motahhari, who plays his club football for Iran Pro League side Naft Tehran, broke the deadlock just after the hour mark with a superb individual strike to edge Iran in front.

The victory was then assured eight minutes later as Motahhari stormed down the right hand side before cutting the ball back to Mehrdad Mohammadi, whose right-footed shot sailed beyond Syrian goalkeeper Abdullatif Nassan.

Iran are bidding to earn a spot at the Olympic Games for the first time since Montreal 1976 and the top three sides at the end of the tournament will book their place at Rio 2016.

Head coach Mohammad Khakpour, however, admitted there was room for improvement if his team are to qualify from Group A.

“These young men are the future of football in our country - and hopefully in Asia - but they’re young and they were stressed because this was the first game of the tournament and they didn’t perform well,” he said.

“In the second half I asked them to just enjoy the game in the second half and I guess they did.

“I believe the game is 90 minutes long and we never give up.

"We had studied Syria pretty well and we knew who their key players are, but it was just that our players were a little stressed in the first half.”

Hosts Qatar delighted the home crowd by coming from behind to beat China 3-1 ©AFC/Facebook
Hosts Qatar delighted the home crowd by coming from behind to beat China 3-1 ©AFC/Facebook

In the other match to take place on the opening day of the event, Qatar delighted the healthy crowd inside the Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium as captain Abdelkarim Hassan scored a second-half brace to help the host country secure a 3-1 victory against China.

The Chinese side took a surprise lead in the first-half as Liao Lisheng found the net with a superb free-kick.

Hassan equalised with a 65th minute header before he turned the match on its head by giving his team the advantage as he scored an early goal of the tournament contender, rifling the ball home from 25 yards.

The comeback was then complete shortly after as Ahmed Alaa came off the bench and added a late third.

The competition is due to continue tomorrow with four matches as Japan take on North Korea and Saudi Arabia entertain Thailand in Group B.

Iraq then begin their pursuit of a successful title defence when they play Yemen in Group C, before an action-packed day is rounded off with South Korea’s clash with Uzbekistan.

The top three teams qualify for this year's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.