Kuala Lumpur: Thanks to the votes of many thousands of Asian football fans, six players have secured their places in our ultimate AFC Cup Dream Team, with two more to be added this week in the wide midfield positions.
The AFC Cup All-time XI is taking shape, with players from East to West earning the approval of football followers from across the continent, but who will be tasked with adding trickery, creativity and energy from wide positions?
We’ve picked out 12 superb options; some of them known for being prolific scorers, some for their work as providers, and others who are remembered for specific moments in the tournament – and It’s up to you to choose your favourite.
With 122 goals, seven winners’ medals and three MVP awards among the nominees, there is ample quality to choose from, so study our list of contenders and don’t forget to register your vote.
Next week: Strikers
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Bader Al Mutawa – Kuwait
Club: Qadsia SC
AFC Cup goals: 30
Honours: AFC Cup winner (2014), MVP (2013), Runner-up (2010, 2013)
A true great of modern Kuwait football, and one who can play in a variety of roles, Bader Al Mutawa had already helped Qadsia to the lofty heights of the 2006 AFC Champions semi-finals when he made his AFC Cup debut, and he proved to be an instant and enduring star in the competition.
He scored nine goals and won the tournament MVP award as Qadsia reached the final in 2013, and added another five – all of them in the knockout stage – when the club emerged victorious the following year, with his exemplary continental performances, as well as a staggering 180 caps for Kuwait making him a player of rare value in the modern era.
Boaz Solossa – Indonesia
Club: Persipura Jayapura
AFC Cup goals: 16
Versatile enough to play anywhere across a front four, Indonesia’s Boaz Solossa scored on his AFC Cup debut against South China in 2011, and rarely failed to make an impact in his 24 appearances in the competition.
Those appearances produced 16 goals, six of which came in the 2014 AFC Cup, where Perispura made it all the way to the semi-finals, the best ever performance by an Indonesia club in the competition.
Nguyen Van Quyet – Vietnam
Club: Hanoi FC
AFC Cup goals: 16
A player nearing legend status for Hanoi FC, Nguyen Van Quyet has shown exceptional quality and consistency for the Vietnamese side; scoring, creating and playing effectively in just about any attacking position.
He helped Hanoi to the quarter-finals for the first time in 2014, and scored six goals in the knockout stage alone in 2019, when the club went ever so close to becoming the first from V.League 1 to reach an AFC Cup Final.
Artur Gevorkyan – Turkmenistan
Clubs: Nisa FC, FC Nasaf
AFC Cup goals: 4
Honours: AFC Cup winner (2011), MVP (2011)
A single appearance for Turkmenistan’s Nisa began his AFC Cup career in 2005, but it was Nasaf’s successful 2011 campaign where Artur Gevorkyan left his mark, playing a pivotal role in the Uzbek club’s march to a maiden continental honour.
He scored four goals throughout the tournament and laid on the assists for both of Nasaf’s goals in the final against Kuwait SC, marking an exceptional individual contribution to what remains Central Asia’s only AFC Cup title.
Hassan Maatouk – Lebanon
Clubs: Al Ahed, Nejmeh, Al Ansar
AFC Cup goals: 17
A shining light of Lebanese football, and the most capped player in the history of the national team, Hassan Maatouk showed the continent his quality at club level too, featuring for three separate Lebanese clubs in the AFC Cup.
Comfortable in central or wide areas, Maatouk scored a double as a 17-year-old against Jordan’s All Hussein way back in 2005, and was still active, and scoring, in the competition a decade and a half later, netting for Al Ansar in one of the only AFC Cup matches to be completed in the pandemic-impacted season of 2020.
Maung Maung Lwin – Myanmar
Club: Yangon United
AFC Cup goals: 8
One of the talented generation that took Myanmar to the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup, Yangon United winger Maung Maung Lwin has been one of the stars of the ASEAN Zone for the last three seasons, scoring or creating a significant proportion of his side’s goals.
His tally of eight AFC Cup goals is impressive, his 13 assists even more so and, at the age of 25, there may be opportunities to sample the talents of one of Myanmar’s more impressive talents for several years to come.
Humam Tareq – Iraq
Club: Air Force Club
AFC Cup goals: 0
Honours: AFC Cup winner (2016, 2017)
He may be the only player on this list not to have scored an AFC Cup goal, but Humam Tareq’s creative qualities, and impressive tournament trophy haul, more than makes up for it.
A wonderkid who joined the Air Force first team setup in his mid-teens, Tareq started all but one match as his side won the 2016 AFC Cup, and was an ever-present when they defended their title the following year. He would almost certainly have become a three-time winner had he not left the club for Esteghlal mid-way through 2018.
Saif Al Hashan – Kuwait
Club: Qadsia SC
AFC Cup goals: 6
Honours: AFC Cup winner (2014), MVP (2014), runner-up (2013)
A Qadsia regular during their glory years in the competition, Saif Al Hashan’s first participation in the AFC Cup took him all the way to the final, where they suffered a painful 2-0 defeat to domestic rivals Kuwait SC in 2013.
But Al Hashan was crucial to their atonement the following season, scoring five goals, including in both legs of the semi, and being voted Player of the Match in the final win against Arbil to earn a richly deserved tournament MVP award.
Riko Simanjuntak - Indonesia
Club: Persija Jakarta
AFC Cup goals: 1
He may have only appeared in two iterations of the competition, but Indonesia’s Riko Simanjuntak earns a nomination by virtue of his exceptional record of 10 assists in just 14 AFC Cup appearances for Persija Jakarta.
The diminutive winger was particularly brilliant during the 2018 tournament, where a combination of pace, dribbling ability and set-piece quality produced six goals for his Persija teammates in a three-game spell, including a superb hat-trick of assists away to Tampines Rovers.
Khaled Saad – Jordan
Club: Al Faisaly
AFC Cup goals: 6
Honours: AFC Cup winner (2005, 2006)
Able to play at left-back or as a wide midfielder, Khaled Saad’s crowning glory in the AFC Cup came in his very first participation in the tournament, where he played an immensely important role in Al Faisaly’s 4-2 aggregate win over Lebanon’s Nejmeh in the final (pictured above, No.12).
Having scored the only goal in the first leg of the decider in Amman, Saad followed up with two further goals in Beirut, then added to his trophy haul when Al Faislay retained the trophy the following season. A mid-season move to Zamalek in 2007 ruled out a shot at a third successive crown, with Al Faisaly going to lose the final.
Ali Fasir – Maldives
Clubs: New Radiant SC
AFC Cup goals: 11
An instant hit in his first season in the AFC Cup in 2013, Ali Fasir bagged five goals, including two in the knockout stage as New Radiant made it all the way to the quarter-finals.
Fasir’s individual high point in the competition arguably came in 2018, when he scored a superb hat-trick in a 5-1 group stage win against Bangladesh’s Abahani Dhaka Limited.
Fatkhulo Fatkulloev – Tajikistan
Clubs: FC Istiklol, FC Khujand
AFC Cup goals: 7
Honours: AFC Cup runner-up (2015, 2017)
An important element of the excellent FC Istiklol side which reached two finals in three years in the mid-2010s, Fatkhulo Fatkhulloev's dribbling and crossing ability caused regular headaches for teams from all over the Asian map.
A winner of the AFC President’s Cup in 2012, Fatkhulloev provided a number of assists on the road to the final in 2017 and proved to be an effective source of goals, including three in successive matches in the 2018 tournament.
Poll ends at 17:00 (UTC+8) on March 25
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