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Introducing: AFC Cup All-time XI - The Best Goalkeeper

Kuala Lumpur: It’s the competition which reaches every corner of the world’s largest continent, and the AFC Cup has produced countless classic moments since its inception in 2004.

Clubs from eight different countries have won it, clubs from four more have reached the final, and players from throughout the sprawling Asian map, and beyond, have made their names.

But who would you choose in an all-time AFC Cup XI? To celebrate the return of the competition in 2021, is asking the football fans of Asia exactly that.

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From the impassable defenders, to the unstoppable strikers - and in an aggressive 3-4-3 formation - we’ll be counting down to the 2021 tournament by inviting you to choose an AFC Cup dream team from some of the tournament’s most beloved players.

Kicking off our search for the ultimate AFC Cup XI is the search for the competition’s finest ever goalkeeper. Our shortlisted shot-stoppers have 11 winners’ medals between them, but who deserves the number one shirt?

Study our nine-man shortlist and don’t forget to cast your vote.

Mehdi Khalil – Lebanon
Clubs: Safa SC, Al Ahed FC
Honours: AFC Cup winner (2019), MVP (2019)

Born in Sierra Leone and arriving in Lebanese domestic football by way of Scandinavia, Lebanon national team custodian Mehdi Khalil made his first AFC Cup appearance in 2013, a full six years before his ultimate moment of triumph in the competition arrived in Kuala Lumpur.

The towering shot-stopper was deservedly voted tournament MVP as Al Ahed became the first Lebanese club to win the title, keeping five consecutive clean sheets, including one against DPR Korea's 4.25 SC in the final.

Lo'ai Al Amairaeh – Jordan
Club: Al Faisaly
Honours: AFC Cup winner (2005, 2006), runner-up (2007)

The last line of defence in Al Faisaly’s free-scoring title winners of 2005 and 2006, Al Amairaeh was the first goalkeeper to win the tournament twice, keeping clean sheets in the first leg of both finals.

Al Amairaeh was regularly involved in blockbuster fixtures of the early years of the AFC Cup, including the 2007 decider, which Al Faisaly lost to domestic rivals Shabab Al Ordon, and the Ma’an-born shot-stopper didn’t lose a home match in the competition until his fifth season in the competition.

Nawaf Al Khaldi – Kuwait
Club: Qadsia SC
Honours: AFC Cup winner (2014), runner-up (2010, 2013)

Qadsia’s impressive starting goalkeeper for the vast majority of their AFC Cup campaigns between 2010 and 2013, Al Khaldi played a major role in their breakthrough continental title win against Arbil of Iraq the following year.

His clean sheet in the 2014 final was followed by a superb save to deny Ali Faez in the shootout, with Al Khaldi going on to win nine league titles in a legendary 17-year spell at the club.

Farizal Marlias – Malaysia
Clubs: Selangor, Johor Darul Ta’zim
Honours: AFC Cup winner (2015)

Despite standing at just 178 centimetres tall, Malaysian shot-stopper Farizal Marlias emerged as one of the heroes of Johor Darul Ta’zim’s 2015 triumph, particularly in their 1-0 victory over Tajikistan’s FC Istiklol in the final.

In his first season at the club, Marlias made several improbable saves in the decider in Dushanbe to help JDT to the first, and only, Asian club title won by a Malaysian side. He went on to feature for the club in the next three editions of the tournament, as well as the AFC Champions League.

Fahad Talib – Iraq
Club: Air Force Club
Honours: AFC Cup winner (2016, 2017, 2018)

Three winners’ medals in three consecutive AFC Cups is a statistic which in itself makes a compelling case for Fahad Talib’s inclusion, but equally as impressive is the fact he completed the feat at the age of 24

He kept clean sheets in the 2016 and 2017 finals and, while he watched on from the bench during the 2018 decider in Basra, his role for one of the tournament’s best ever teams makes him a worthy contender for a place in any side.

Mosab Balhous - Syria
Clubs: Al Karamah, Al Shorta
Honours: AFC Cup runner-up (2009)

Appearing in the tournament for the first time having already played in the AFC Champions League final three years prior, Balhous was central to Al Karamah’s surge to the 2009 final.

He kept five clean sheets in that edition of the competition, which Al Karamah ultimately lost to Kuwait SC in the decider, but went on to preside over another six shutouts in the next two AFC Cup seasons before joining Al Shorta of Iraq. Balhous played for Syria 88 times in a decade-long national team career.

Musab Al Kandari - Kuwait
Club: Kuwait SC
Honours: AFC Cup winner (2009, 2012, 2013), runner-up (2011)

An important element of one of the most successful teams in the history of the tournament, Al Kandari won the AFC Cup at the first attempt for Kuwait SC in 2009 and went on to win the title twice more in 2012 and 2013.

He played in all three winning finals – keeping clean sheets in two of them – but watched on from the bench in the decider Kuwait lost to Nasaf in 2011. Al Kandari kept five clean sheets in nine matches in 2015, the last season he regularly appeared in the competition

Amer Shafi – Jordan
Clubs: Al Faisaly, Al Wehdat

A truly legendary Asian goalkeeper, racking up an astonishing 176 caps for Jordan before his recent retirement, Shafi also left his mark on the AFC Cup, appearing as a starter in 36 matches across 13 years.

He made four group stage appearances for the Al Faisaly side that went on to win the tournament in 2005, but the vast majority of his appearances came for their great rivals Al Wehdat, with whom he reached the 2007 and 2011 semi-finals and won no less than seven domestic titles.

Mammet Orazmuhammedov – Turkmenistan
Clubs: HTTU Ashgabat, Altyn Asyr
Honours: AFC Cup runner-up (2018)

After playing a handful of games as a teenager in the 2006 tournament, Turkmenistan’s Mammet Orazmuhammedov had to wait nearly a decade to get another taste of AFC Cup action but he has gone on to establish himself as a top performer on the Asian stage.

The 17-time international has kept nine clean sheets in the tournament since 2016, starting all but one match as Altyn Asyr became the first team from Turkmenistan to reach the tournament final in 2018.

Poll ends at 17:00 (UTC+8) on March 4.

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