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AFC Champions League – The Expert's View: Dejan Damjanovic

Daegu: AFC Champions League legend Dejan Damjanovic runs the rule over the players and teams who are set to make an impact when the Continental action resumes on November 18. 

The tournament's second highest all-time goalscorer, Montengrin striker Dejan Damjanovic is one of the AFC Champions League's most familiar faces having represented FC Seoul, Beijing FC and Suwon Samsung Bluewings in the competition.

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The 39-year-old (below, right), who has recently concluded the 2020 K League 1 season with current side Daegu FC, exclusively previews the 2020 AFC Champions League (East) for with an eye on the key men and teams to look out for.

The Forwards

Beijing FC are one of the teams I played in the AFC Champions League with before, and from that side Cedric Bakambu (below) is one of those strikers that can make a difference. Jonathan Viera is perhaps more of a playmaker in the team, but he is one of their important players going forward and he makes a lot of chances, he could be a key player in the group stage.

I really like Guangzhou Evergrande's Talisca, great player – he's unbelievable. From the Korean sides: Junior Negrao. He did crazy things this year in the K League, more goals than games! I don't know how Ulsan Hyundai were unable to win the championship, but he is a killer in the box: one shot, one goal.

The Midfielders

Marcos Junior from Yokohama F. Marinos is great, an unbelievable player. As is the winger from FC Tokyo, Leandro. The Brazilian contingent in the Japanese teams this year are exceptional, they could be playing in the top five leagues in Europe for the top five teams in those countries.

In Korea, I've always liked Son Jun-ho from Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors. He had a fantastic season this year, doing amazing things. He's like a playmaker or a holding midfielder but even then he's controlling the tempo of the team with his passing.

Because of him, Jeonbuk are champions this year and I am sure he'll take this domestic form to the AFC Champions League.

And, of course, Andres Iniesta. What more is there to say about him? He can do everything, he can be a one-man team! But Vissel Kobe haven't had a great season in the J.League, so I don't know how well they, as a team, will adapt upon the AFC Champions League restarting, despite Iniesta.

The Defenders

Beijing FC's Kim Min-jae is one I've come up against in K League 1 when he was at his previous team Jeonbuk and he's unbelievable. Fast, strong, good character, knows how to play football – he can do everything.

I'm sure he will go on to have a fantastic career and will play for some of the best teams. He's one of the best defenders I've ever played against.

Guangzhou Evergrande's right-back Zhang Linpeng is a legend of Chinese football and of Guangzhou football, I've come against him before and he was great.

Osmar of FC Seoul is one of the smartest defenders that I've played with and against. I don't know whether he'll play holding midfielder or defender but I prefer him when he plays in defence.

The Goalkeepers

Kwoun Sun-tae always played well against me but Kashima Antlers didn't make it through the play-offs this time, so the name that immediately comes up is Ulsan Hyundai's Jo Hyeon-woo – he is the best goalkeeper in Asia, I'm sure of it.

He had an unbelievable season for Ulsan, he made so many saves, even saved penalties and won so many games for Ulsan.

I also like the goalkeeper from FC Seoul, Yang Han-been. I was at FC Seoul when he started at the club and he's a great guy, great goalkeeper. Even during a tough season this year for FC Seoul he did really well.

Sydney FC's Andrew Redmayne is also one I'm a fan of. He made his national team debut with Australia last year and I think he's a very good goalkeeper, too.

The Contenders

Yokohama F. Marinos are my favourites, I've watched their games and thought that sometimes they are like Barcelona! If Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors can overcome their poor start to the group stage they could go all the way to the final.

They have great Korean players, national team players, with good character and a championship-winning mentality.

The third would be Guangzhou Evergrande or Shanghai SIPG, they have some unbelievably talented players – particularly their foreign stars – who know how to be champions, so I expect them to do well.

There are other teams who could make an impact and cause a surprise, but I expect one of these four to go the distance as they have the best quality in Asia.

Photos: K League

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