Kuala Lumpur: With the 2020 AFC Champions League currently on hiatus, the-AFC.com continues its series of articles to determine your best sides from the last four editions of the Continental competition.
Last week we presented the candidates for the 2016 edition's best goalkeeper, and now it's time to turn our attention to defenders.
So, here are 15 players in contention for the four places in the backline. Review the nominees and then choose your favourite defenders for this all-star XI in the respective polls.
See also :
Dates for Women's Olympic Asian Qualifiers Play-off final confirmed
AFC Champions League
The Long Read: Lee Dong-gook
India's Indumathi dons different uniform in fight against COVID-19
Ali Hamam – Zobahan
- 76% passing accuracy
- 2 assists (#1 by a defender)
- 80% tackle success rate
In four of the seven games Ali Hamam played, Zobahan kept clean sheets, while the former Lebanese international was the only defender to post two assists in the 2016 edition before Al Ain ousted the Isfahan side in the Round of 16.
Ahmed Al Yassi – Al Nasr
- 1 goal, 1 assist
- 82% tackle success rate
- 47 Duels won, 17 interceptions made
Ahmed Al Yassi was on top form as Al Nasr produced by far and away their best-ever performance in the AFC Champions League. Three clean sheets in the group stage and a goal in the last 16 is a fair return for a defender, whose side ultimately exited in the quarter-finals.
Mohammad Tresor – Lekhwiya
- 83% passing accuracy
- 100% dribbles completed
- 67% tackle success rate
Part of the Lekhwiya backline that conceded just twice in the group stage, Mohammad Tresor played his part at both ends of the pitch, winning two-thirds of tackles he went in for and completing all eight of the dribbles he attempted before the Doha side exited to compatriots El Jaish in the last 16.
Mohammad Iranpourian – Tractorsazi Tabriz
- 12 chances created (#1 by a defender)
- 12 successful open play crosses (#1 by a defender)
- 21 dribbles completed (#1 by a defender)
Excellent at the back and a constant threat going forward, Mohammed Iranpourian was outstanding as Tractorsazi advanced to the last 16 for the first time. Although the Tabriz side exited to Al Nasr, the right-back rounded off his campaign with a stunning goal in the second leg.
Mohammed Ahmed – Al Ain
- 85% passing accuracy
- 27 tackles won (#1 for a defender)
- 13 interceptions
Al Ain dazzled going forward in 2016 but they were also resolute at the back, and Mohammed Ahmed was part of a defence that kept four clean sheets in nine games before injury cruelly ended his campaign prior to the second leg of the quarter-finals.
Maksud Karimov – FC Nasaf
- 2 goals scored
- 81% passing accuracy
- 15 interceptions, 23 clearances
Uzbekistan's Nasaf may have exited at the group stage but they were particularly impressive at home and no one more so than their long-serving captain Maksud Karimov, who scored the winner against Saudi Arabia's Al Ahli and added another goal in a draw with Al Ain.
Ismael Ahmed – Al Ain
- 11 shots on goal (#2 for a defender)
- 100% tackle success rate
- 92 clearances (#1 for a defender)
While Omar Abdulrahman pulled the strings in the Al Ain midfield, one-club man Ismael Ahmed was an equally important presence at the back. The UAE international made more clearances than any other defender and won all 15 of his his tackles, while he also got on the scoresheet in the group stage.
Matthieu Delpierre – Melbourne Victory
- 85% passing accuracy (#1 for a defender)
- 93% tackle success rate
- 38 interceptions (#3 for a defender)
In what was his last season as a professional footballer, Frenchman Matthieu Delpierre helped Melbourne Victory achieve their best performance on the Continent, playing in all eight of their games before the Australian side exited to eventual champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.
Mohannad Salem – Al Ain
- 86% tackle success rate
- 73 clearances (#2 for a defender)
- 25 interceptions, 42 duels won
Mohannad Salem was an ever-present in the Al Ain defence, playing all 14 of the Emirati side's games, while only defensive partner Ismael Ahmed made more clearances over the course of the campaign.
Lim Jong-eun – Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors
- 1 goal, 1 assist
- 61 clearances (#3 for a defender)
- 70% tackle success rate, 25 interceptions
The only representative of the 2016 winners who features as a candidate for one of the four positions in our defence, towering centre-back Lim Jong-eun played an important role in the Jeonju side's march to a second AFC Champions League title.
Shi Ke – Shanghai SIPG
- 42 interceptions (#1 for a defender)
- 83% tackle success rate
- 39 clearances
Although Shanghai SIPG were known for the exciting forward line that fired them to the 2016 quarter-finals, their defence should be given plenty of credit too. China PR international Shi Ke, in particular, shone at the heart of the team's rearguard and racked up some impressive numbers.
Yu Hai – Shanghai SIPG
- 75 duels won (#1 for a defender)
- 76% passing accuracy
- 50% dribble success rate
The versatile Yu Hai excelled in both halves of the pitch for Shanghai SIPG. The highest duel success rate for a defender bears testament to the physical strengths of the six-footer from Henan, but his technical ability is also borne out by his excellent passing and dribbling numbers.
Mohammed Fayez – Al Ain
- 37 interceptions (#4 for a defender)
- 23 tackles won (#3 for a defender)
- 51 duels won (#5 for a defender)
Mohammad Fayez may not have led on any single defensive stat, but he comes within the top five on three of the key ones (interceptions, tackles won and duels won) which show the consistency and importance of the Al Ain left-back.
Mahmoud Khamis – Al Nasr
- 7 shots on goal and 7 chances created
- 66 passes into opposition box (#1 for a defender)
- 56 crosses (#1 for a defender)
One of the most attack-minded defenders in our list, Mahmoud Khamis was just as involved going forward as he was part of the rearguard. The full-back's offensive stats speak for themselves, as does his incredible Round of 16 rocket against Tractorsazi Tabriz.
Sherzod Fayziev – Lokomotiv
- 71% passing accuracy
- 79% tackle success rate
- 39 duels won
Part of a backline that conceded just three times in the group stage, Sherzod Fayziev also rose to the occasion at the other end of the field when he scored what proved to be the winner against Al Hilal in the Round of 16.
The polls end on May 16 at 4pm (UTC+8) .The Best XI chosen by fans and the best XI based on the 2016 statistics will be announced at the end of May.
Recommended Stories :
Asian Football Quiz
The Asian Football Quiz - Round 11
Yan Junling: China PR gelling perfectly under Li Tie
Which AFC Cup personality are you?