Kuala Lumpur: With the current AFC Champions League currently on hiatus, the-AFC.com kicks off a series of articles to determine your best sides from the last four editions of the AFC Champions League.
To select the candidates for each position, we have reflected match data from the tournament to draw up a statistics-based approach to present the outstanding performers.
We begin with five candidates for the all-important number one shirt. Review the nominees and then choose your favourite goalkeeper to helm the rearguard for this all-star XI in the poll below.
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Khaled Eisa – Al Ain
- 14 appearances, 13 goals conceded, 5 clean sheets (#1 tied)
- 18 clearances (#1), 17 catches (#2)
- 70.5% save percentage
At the 2016 AFC Champions League, Al Ain returned to the final for the first time since 2005. While playmaker Omar Abdulrahman took much of the plaudits for his magical play, goalkeeper Khalid Eisa was just as important at the other end of the pitch, marshalling the backline.
Leading several of the goalkeeping categories, Eisa in particular helped Al Ain edge close ties against Zobahan and Lokomotiv in the knockout stage – conceding just once over the four matches – and is the only one of our candidates who went all the way to the tournament's climax.
Mohammad Rashid Mazaheri – Zobahan
- 8 appearances, 5 goals conceded
- 5 clean sheets (#1 tied)
- 85.3% save percentage – (#1 of those with at least 8 appearances in the
Along with Lekhwiya, now known as Al Duhail, Zobahan had the stingiest defence in the group stage, letting in just two goals in six matches, and it was largely thanks to the hugely impressive Mohammad Rashid Mazaheri in goal, who was arguably the standout custodian of the first phase of the competition.
In the Round of 16, Zobahan were ultimately eliminated by Al Ain, but Mazaheri's impressive shot-stopping had already left a lasting impression.
Ignatiy Nesterov – Lokomotiv
- 10 appearances, 5 goals conceded
- 5 clean sheets (#1 tied)
- 84.9% save percentage – (#2 of those with at least 8 appearances in the
An Uzbekistan legend of the game, it's no surprise to see Ignatiy Nesterov among the number of great goalkeepers at the 2016 AFC Champions League.
After masterminding a rearguard that conceded only three times in the group stage, the shot-stopper then impressively blunted heavyweights Al Hilal in Riyadh and Al Ain in the UAE in the knockout stages before a quarter-final exit.
Shusaku Nishikawa – Urawa Red Diamonds
- 8 appearances, 7 goals conceded, 4 clean sheets
- 20 catches (#1)
- 81.6% save percentage
Just four goals conceded in six group stage ties, Shusaku Nishikawa was as ever the main man between the posts for Urawa Red Diamonds with the Oita-native shining in his second Continental campaign for the Saitama side.
The then 29-year-old blanked FC Seoul in the first leg of the Round of 16, but was unable to keep out the Koreans in the return meeting as the J.League club were eliminated on penalties.
Vedran Janjetovic – Sydney FC
- 8 appearances, 7 goals conceded, 3 clean sheets
- 3 penalties saved (#1)
- 70.8% save percentage
To save a penalty is rare enough, but to save three is an unique feat indeed and it's the headline stat from Vedran Janjetovic's 2016 AFC Champions League campaign.
The Zagreb-born custodian also conceded just four times in the group stage to help Sydney FC top the standings, including denying Ricardo Goulart from the spot in a win over Guangzhou Evergrande, before saving a penalty in each leg of their Round of 16 elimination on away goals to Shandong Luneng.
Now that you've seen all five great goalkeepers, vote for your best in the poll and secure them a place in the Best XI for the 2016 AFC Champions League. Poll ends at 1600 (UTC 8) on May 9.
The Best XI chosen by fans and the best XI based on the 2016 statistics will be announced at the end of May.
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