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ACL players at the World Cup: How did they fare?


Omid Ebrahimi was a fighter in midfield for IR Iran
Alireza Beiranvand made headlines with a historic penalty save
Rouzbeh Cheshmi will get more chances in the future
Morteza Pouraliganji was calm and imposing
Pejman Montazeri did not get a chance in Russia 2018
Vahid Amiri (middle) showed his magic against Spain
Majid Hosseini was solid in two games for IR Iran
Axel Witsel helped Belgium win bronze
Matthew Jurman did not get game time for Australia
Gen Shoji's man-marking kept opposition strikers at bay
Young Naomichi Ueda will have to wait for his chance to impress
Lee Yong demonstrated his quality at both ends of the pitch
Kim Shin-wook struggled to recover from injury
Lee Jae-sung 
Omid Ebrahimi was a fighter in midfield for IR Iran
Alireza Beiranvand made headlines with a historic penalty save
Rouzbeh Cheshmi will get more chances in the future
Morteza Pouraliganji was calm and imposing
Pejman Montazeri did not get a chance in Russia 2018
Vahid Amiri (middle) showed his magic against Spain
Majid Hosseini was solid in two games for IR Iran
Axel Witsel helped Belgium win bronze
Matthew Jurman did not get game time for Australia
Gen Shoji's man-marking kept opposition strikers at bay
Young Naomichi Ueda will have to wait for his chance to impress
Lee Yong demonstrated his quality at both ends of the pitch
Kim Shin-wook struggled to recover from injury
Lee Jae-sung 
Omid Ebrahimi was a fighter in midfield for IR Iran
Alireza Beiranvand made headlines with a historic penalty save
Rouzbeh Cheshmi will get more chances in the future
Morteza Pouraliganji was calm and imposing
Pejman Montazeri did not get a chance in Russia 2018
Vahid Amiri (middle) showed his magic against Spain
Majid Hosseini was solid in two games for IR Iran
Axel Witsel helped Belgium win bronze
Matthew Jurman did not get game time for Australia
Gen Shoji's man-marking kept opposition strikers at bay
Young Naomichi Ueda will have to wait for his chance to impress
Lee Yong demonstrated his quality at both ends of the pitch
Kim Shin-wook struggled to recover from injury
Lee Jae-sung 

Kuala Lumpur: 14 players from five nations represented the 2018 AFC Champions League quarter-finalists at the World Cup. The-AFC.com reviews their performances in Russia.

An Islamic Republic of Iran side featuring seven players plying their trade at Esteghlal, Persepolis and Al Sadd impressed in the World Cup despite exiting at the group stage. Korea Republic stunned reigning champions Germany with two Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors players on the pitch and a third on the bench.

Kashima Antlers’ pair Gen Shoji and Naomichi Ueda reached the Round of 16 with Japan, but Tianjin Quanjian’s Axel Witsel was the AFC Champions League quarter-finalist to go furthest in Russia, helping his Belgium side to a historic third-place finish. Samsung Suwon Bluewings' Matthew Jurman wasn’t as fortunate as his Australia team were eliminated at the group stage.

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Omid Ebrahimi - Esteghlal and IR Iran

The defensive midfielder was one of the pleasant surprises in Carlos Queiroz’s selections. Preferred to the more experienced Masoud Shojaei, he showed impressive tenacity and fought for every ball in the middle of the park, providing an added layer of protection to the back four. His performances earned him a big money move to Qatar Stars League side Al Ahli after the tournament.

Alireza Beiranavand – Persepolis and IR Iran

A calm and composed presence between the sticks, Beiranvand produced a string of top class saves against much stronger opponents in Spain and Portugal. Saving a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty kick was the icing on the cake for one of Team Melli’s top performers in Russia.

Rouzbeh Cheshmi - Esteghlal and IR Iran

After a solid outing against Morocco in the opening game when the team kept a clean sheet and got their only win, Cheshmi lost his starting spot to Majid Hosseini. At just 24, he will certainly get other opportunities to impress for Team Melli.


Morteza Pouraliganji – Al Sadd and IR Iran

One of the stars of IR Iran’s World Cup campaign, Pouraliganji was tasked with marking some of the best strikers in the world and was largely successful. Imposing in the air and calm in possession, the 26-year-old’s stock rose drastically in the three games.

Pejman Montazeri – Esteghlal and IR Iran

One of only three outfield Team Melli players who did not get any game time in Russia, largely due to the stellar form of starting centre-back pairing of Pouraliganji and Hosseini. At 34, the Esteghlal captain may have a decision to make on whether to retire internationally or wait for the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 in less than six months.

Vahid Amiri – Persepolis and IR Iran

Utilised in a deeper midfield position than his usual left-wing role, Amiri put in a tireless shift throughout the tournament and his nutmeg on Spain’s Gerard Pique was one of the tournament’s most impressive show of skills.

Majid Hosseini - Esteghlal and IR Iran

Replacing Cheshmi for the games against Spain and Portugal, Hosseini proved a solid partner for Pouraliganji at the heart of the Iranian defence. The 22-year-old could still feature in two more World Cups. An exciting prospect for club and country.


Axel Witsel - Tianjin Quanjian and Belgium

An indispensable asset for Roberto Martinez’s Belgium side, Witsel provided the much-needed balance to a team featuring a wealth of attacking talent. The 29-year-old started six of Belgium’s seven matches en route to winning bronze, and completed 90 minutes in each of those six games.

Matthew Jurman – Samsung Suwon Bluewings and Australia

The centre-back was kept out of the side by the strong partnership of Mark Milligan and Trent Sainsbury. After the end of the Socceroos’ campaign, he completed a move to Saudi Arabia’s Al Ittihad who will be competing in the 2019 AFC Champions League.


Gen Shoji – Kashima Antlers and Japan

The only domestically based starting player for the Samurai Blue in Russia, Shoji was instrumental in keeping the likes of Radamel Falcao and Romelu Lukaku quiet with his Impressive man marking and composure.

Naomichi Ueda - Kashima Antlers and Japan

Another player leaving his side ahead of the quarter-finals, Ueda did not get any playing time in Russia, but that did not stop Belgian side Cercle Brugge from acquiring his services.


Lee Yong – Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Korea Republic

One of the better Korea Republic performers throughout the campaign. The right-back played all 270 minutes for the Taeguk Warriors, attempting and completing more crosses from open play than any of his teammates. He was also a rock at the back against top players like Germany's Marco Reus and Mexico's Hirving Lozano.

Kim Shin-wook - Jeonbuk Hyndai Motors and Korea Republic

The towering forward’s contribution in Russia was limited to 66 minutes in the first match defeat against Sweden. The two-time AFC Champions League winner, recovering from a knee injury was not at his best and lost his place for the next two fixtures.


Lee Jae-sung – Jeonbuk Hyndai Motors and Korea Republic

The 25-year-old midfielder was full of energy and grew into the tournament with every passing game, saving his best for the last encounter against Germany, where his vision and technique on the ball were key in masterminding a famous victory for Korea Republic.

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