Kuala Lumpur: The best XI of the 2016 AFC Champions League was decided last week, so now the-AFC.com turns to the next chapter of the Continent's most prestigious club tournament, the 2017 edition, to determine the best 11 players.
To select the candidates for each position, we have reflected on 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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Yasser Al Mosailem – Al Ahli Saudi
- 8 appearances, 9 goals conceded
- 2 clean sheets
- 81.6% save percentage (#1 for goalkeepers)
The one club man, Yasser Al Mosailem enjoyed his best AFC Champions League run at the 2017 campaign where a string of impressive displays helped Al Ahli Saudi to the quarter-finals.
Boasting the best save percentage among 'keepers in the 2017 edition with a minimum of seven appearances, Al Mosailem proved to be a key cog in the Jeddah side's backline and produced some highlight reel saves that will be fondly remembered by the Al Ahli faithful.
Jung Sung-ryong – Kawasaki Frontale
- 9 appearances, 9 goals conceded
- 3 clean sheets
- 77% save percentage (#2 for goalkeepers)
Along with Muangthong United, Kawasaki Frontale had the meanest defence in the group stage, letting in just three goals in six matches, and much of the credit is due to their Korean 'keeper Jung Sung-ryong in goal, who expertly marshalled an impressive rearguard.
In the quarter-final, a 10-man Kawasaki were ultimately eliminated by Urawa Red Diamonds, but in terms of personal performance Jung had already put on a campaign between the post to be proud of.
Abdullah Al Mayoof – Al Hilal
- 14 appearances, 13 goals conceded
- 5 clean sheets (Joint #1 for a goalkeeper)
- 42 saves (#1 for a goalkeeper), 75.5% save percentage
Omar Khribin took most of the plaudits for Al Hilal's run to the final, with the Syrian top scoring and ultimately earning the 2017 AFC Player of the Year accolade, but Abdullah Al Mayoof was the foundation on which the success was built on.
After a strong showing in the group stage, Al Mayoof particularly came into his own in the knockout rounds as he conceded just four goals in six matches on the way to the competition climax. There his nemesis proved to be Urawa's Brazilian Rafael Silva, who found the net against him in both legs. Payback would come, though, just two years later.
Shusaku Nishikawa – Urawa Red Diamonds
- 13 appearances, 14 goals conceded
- 5 clean sheets (Joint #1 for a goalkeeper)
- 307 successful passes (#1 for a goalkeeper), 74.6% save percentage
Also a nominee for best goalkeeper at the 2016 edition, Shusaku Nishikawa enjoyed an even more memorable campaign in 2017 as he was the man between the posts as Urawa went all the way to their second Continental title.
Not only was the Oita native a colossus in goal, with the joint highest number of clean sheets and an impressive save percentage, he also played an important role to his side's build up from the back with his successful passes tally of 137 more than any other 'keeper.
Yan Junling – Shanghai SIPG
- 10 appearances, 15 goals conceded
- 2 clean sheets, 31 saves (including penalty save)
- 67.3% save percentage, 1 assist
A team more noted for their attack than their defence, Shanghai SIPG nevertheless boast arguably the best goalkeeper in the Chinese Super League and at the 2017 AFC Champions League Yan Junling was at the peak of his powers on the Continent as the side reached the semi-finals.
While the goals conceded tally is not the best among our candidates – although most of these came from a topsy-turvy quarter-final against Guangzhou Evergrande – the sheer amount of work Yan put in for the offence-minded side is worthy of merit.
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 2017 AFC Champions League. Poll ends at 1600 (UTC 8) on June 13.
The Best XI chosen by fans and the Best XI based on the 2017 statistics will be announced at the beginning of July.
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