January 8, 2011 by joshilan14
With the Asian Cup having started today with Uzbekistan’s shock 2-0 win over hosts and 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar, I will have a look at the 10 players to watch out for in the remainder of what should be an intriguing tournament.
One of many nationalised players in the Qatar side, the Uruguayan striker is probably regarded as Qatar’s best and most well known player. He has a prolific rate at both Qatar and his club side Qatar SC, with 22 goals in 56 games for Qatar ad 87 in 126 for Qatar SC. With his country hosting the tournament and despite the opening day loss to Uzbekistan, Soria should be able to shine and impress many with his skills and scoring ability.
The 28 year old Uzbekistan captain is a free flowing attacking midfielder for his country. He is probably his sides key player and he proved worthy of this status when he sealed the victory against Qatar by scoring the sides second goal in a 2-0 win. The Bunyodkor player had previously returned from an impressive 18 match spell at FC Seoul, with who he won the South Korean title with. He contributed with a single goal and 7 assists.
The onetime PSV Eindhoven midfielder is back in China with Shandong Luneng for a second spell. The defensive midfielder is a key fixture of Gao Hongbo’s upcoming team. He is an idol in his home country and is regarded as one of the best players China has produces in the past few years. He is also the youngest ever scorer for the national side.
Yasser Al Qahtani
One of Saudi Arabia’s most lethal attackers ever, Yasser Al Qahtani is revered as one of Asia’s best players and possibly the best striker plying his trade in Asian club football. The Asian footballer of the year for 2007 was joint top scorer at the 2007 event with Japan’s Naohiro Takahara and Iraq’s Younis Mahmoud both grabbing four goals each. The 28 year old had previously been linked to a move when Sven Goran Eriksson was at Manchester City, but was unable to fulfil his dream of playing in Europe, but another good tournament could see this dream move happen.
As mentioned in many of my previous articles, Borussia Dortmund have had a fantastic this year in the Bundesliga. One of their key players is Japan’s Shinji Kagawa. The attacking midfielder cum winger has been a revelation this season, scoring 8 goals and creating 1 in the 17 games he has played in the Bundesliga. He unluckily missed out on a World Cup spot in the summer despite a successful year at Cerezo Osaka, in which he got them from the J League Division 2 to the J League, in which he made a smooth transition to before his move to Dortmund. He should make a bigger move with a good Asian Cup.
Lee Chung Yong
The South Korean winger has turned out to be one of the rare successes under Gary Megson’s reign at Bolton Wanderers. After signing for £2.5 million from FC Seoul, many Bolton fans, including myself, though he would fail to make the grade. Fortunately, he has proved to be one of Bolton’s key players and he has become the same for South Korea. He scored two goals at the FIFA World Cup, both against South American opposition in Argentina and Uruguay.
Possibly the best of Australian player of all time, the Everton attacking midfielder is famed for his goal scoring ability. He has got 9 goals in 17 Premier League this season and 121 goals in 476 professional games altogether. He marked his stamp in Australian football history when he helped Australia come back from 1-0 down to Japan at the 2006 World Cup to complete a 3-1 comeback in the last 7 minutes of the game by scoring 2 goals in the process.
In 2007, the almost unthinkable happened. Iraq, a war torn country, had just beaten Saudi Arabia 1-0 in the Asian Cup 2007 final thanks to a Younis Mahmoud goal. The striker has scored 209 professional goals, but none more important than that goal. He has spent the past 6 years playing for Qatari sides Al Khor, Al Arabi and now Al Gharafa, the Qatari champions. If Iraq do the unthinkable again and win the tournament, it will be his proudest hour yet.
Jong Tae Se
Born to South Korean parents in Japan, Jong Tae Se decided to play his international football for North Korea. His efforts at the World Cup when playing and not blubbing at his adopted country’s national anthem got him a dream move to Europe, but not the one he had hoped for. He wanted to go to Barcelona or AC Milan, but instead moved to German 2nd Division side Bochum, were he has impressed with an average of a goal every 2 games.
The Osasuna central midfielder has become one of the few rarities in international football to reach over 100 caps for his county. Nekounam has gained 115 gaps and 26 goals over a 10 year international career. He, along with Naohiro Takahara and Park Ji Sung, became one of the first players to be a key player in a big European league. He has had the opportunities to leave Osasuna for Spanish league opposition in Espanyol and Villarreal, but he rebuffed the chance, stating he was happy at the club.
Hopefully this gives you an insight on some players who will be key at the Asian Cup 2011.