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4 debutants who shone in the quarter-finals

Thursday, September 6, 2018
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Kuala Lumpur: The first leg of the 2018 AFC Champions League quarter-finals saw some high impact debuts across the continent, we look back into the archives to pick four of the best performances by newcomers from the history of the ACL's last eight.

Whethere it was the goals of Kashima Antlers' Serginho and Han Eui-kwon of Suwon Samsung Bluewings, or the midfield performance by Al Sadd's Gabi and Jung Woo-yung, there were impressive first outings for a number of footballers in Asia as the AFC Champions League re-commenced after the three month break.

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We shine a light on four other memorable debuts in the continental club knockout stage. Let us know which you thought was the most impactful in the poll at the end.

Mohammed Kallon

Shandong Luneng vs Al Ittihad, 2005

Despite only signing on a loan deal midway through the 2005 AFC Champions League, such was Sierra Leone striker Mohammed Kallon's impact on Al Ittihad's continental title-winning campaign that he earned the top scorer accolade by the tournament climax.

Although he went scoreless in his debut vs Shandong Luneng - a 1-1 draw in China - Kallon showed enough signs that he would become a vital part of the Al Ittihad attack, and scored the first of his six continental goals in the 7-2 win in the second leg in Jeddah.


Guangzhou Evergrande vs Lekhwiya, 2013

One of the recent icons of the AFC Champions League, eventual two-time winner Elkeson had joined Chinese Super League side Guangzhou Evergrande early in 2013, but it wasn't until Lucas Barrios left the team in the summer that he was included in their continental squad for the first time.

And what a decision that would prove to be. Elkeson netted his first of five goals against Lekhwiya in the quarter-final first leg. He then went on a tear including scoring in both legs of the final against FC Seoul, as Guangzhou lifted their first AFC Champions League title.


Kashima Reysol vs Guangzhou Evergrande, 2015


Another Brazilian and another entry for Guangzhou Evergrande. In a move that looked far from inspired at the time, midfielder Paulinho left Tottenham Hotspur, where he had endured a torrid time, to move to southern China.

But the man from Sao Paolo made his critics do a double-take almost instantly when he took to the field for his AFC Champions League debut. A memorable 40-yard free-kick was dispatched past a stunned Takanori Sugeno as Paulinho announced his arrival in Asia.

Godwin Mensha

Persepolis vs Al Ahli, 2017

After a prolific season with Paykan, Nigerian Godwin Mensha joined Tehran giants Persepolis ahead of the 2017 AFC Champions League quarter-finals and the striker showed he could make up the step up to the continental competition immediately.

Starting on the bench against Saudi Arabia's Al Ahli in the first leg, Mensha needed just 20 minutes to play his part; scoring a crucial equaliser as Persepolis drew 2-2 in Muscat.

The Lagos native would also score in the second leg to secure the Iranians their first semi-final place in the AFC Champions League.

Who made the biggest impact in the ACL?
Mohammed Kallon
Godwin Mensha
Make your own Quiz

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