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World Cup stars set to shine


Kuala Lumpur: With four of Asia’s top clubs soon to lock horns at the inaugural AFC Women’s Club Championship in Korea Republic, the competition is set to feature stars of the women’s game from Asia and beyond.

A total of 24 players from this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in France are on the books of the four participating clubs, who supplied national team stars for six different sides in the global showpiece.

Having already appeared on the biggest stage in the international game, those players will now be among the first to experience the continental spotlight in club football, with Yongin to host the landmark competition, starting with a double header on Tuesday.

With the countdown to those fixtures drawing ever closer, the-AFC.com looks at the World Cup stars at each side’s disposal in the competition ahead.

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INCHEON HYUNDAI STEEL RED ANGELS (KOR)

France 2019 players: Kim Do-yeon, Lim Seon-joo, Jung Seol-bin, Shin Dam-yeong, Lee Young-ju, Jang Sel-gi, Kim Min-jung, Lee So-dam, Kim Hye-ri, Kang Chae-rim (all Korea Republic); Beatriz (Brazil).

A long-time nursery of some of Korea Republic’s brightest footballing talents, Incheon Hyundai Steel Red Angels supplied 10 of the national team squad for June’s trip to France, as well as talented forward Beatriz, a member of the Brazil side which reached the Round of 16.

 

The six Incheon players on the pitch when Korea Republic began the opening match of the tournament against France, while Beatriz played in all four of Brazil’s matches alongside global stars like Marta, Formiga and Debinha

Incheon will be packed with top-level experience at the AFC Women’s Club Championship. They supplied the most players of any club in Asia at the 2019 Women's World Cup, with only Barcelona, Olympique Lyonnais, Manchester City and Chelsea represented by more.


NIPPON TV BELEZA (JPN)

France 2019 players: Mizuho Sakaguchi, Rikako Kobayasahi, Yui Hasegawa, Yuka Momiki, Asato Miyagawa, Narumi Miura, Ayaka Yamashita, Jun Endo (pictured above), Risa Shimizu (all Japan).

Nine of Asako Takakura’s 23-strong Japan squad at France 2019 came from domestic champions Nippon TV Beleza, who have customarily boasted a long list of national team stars.

Some the Nadeshiko’s most influential players in France came from Beleza, with goalkeeper Ayaka Yamashita (pictured above), full-back Risa Shimuzu and midfield star Yui Hasegawa – scorer of a memorable goal against the Netherlands in the Round of 16 – all playing important roles, while Jun Endo has been nominated for AFC Women’s Youth Player of the Year.

Beleza’s international quality players don’t end there. 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup-winner Riko Ueki was originally selected in the World Cup squad before suffering a last-minute injury, while Nadeshiko League MVP Mina Tanaka was overlooked despite eight international goals in 2018, but both are expected to feature in Korea Republic.


JIANGSU SUNING LADIES FOOTBALL CLUB (CHN)

France 2019 players: Peng Shimeng, Yang Li (both China PR).

Jocelyn Preucher’s Jiangsu Suning side only produced two representatives for China PR’s campaign in France, but both featured heavily as the Steel Roses advanced to the knockout stage.

Goalkeeper Peng Shimeng, 21, earned plaudits from around the globe for her stunning clean-sheet performance in China’s 0-0 draw with Spain, while Yang Li – the AFC Women’s Asian Cup Golden Boot winner in 2014 – featured in all three group matches.

Jiangsu Suning’s recent success has led to more national team call-ups, with seven players summoned for Jia Xiuquan’s training squad ahead of December’s EAFF E-1 Championship in Busan.


MELBOURNE VICTORY (AUS)

France 2019 players: Teigen Allen (Australia), Annalie Longo (New Zealand).

A new signing for Melbourne Victory ahead for the 2019-20 season, New Zealand’s Annalie Longo wasn’t on the W-League Premiers’ books during France 2019, where she appeared in all three matches in the Football Ferns’ campaign.

AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2010 winner Teigen Allen was selected for Australia but didn’t feature on the pitch, while fellow Victory defender Laura Alleway was forced out at the eleventh-hour through injury.

Emily Gielnik, one Victory’s stars in the 2018-19 W-League season, featured prominently in the Matildas’ campaign, but has since transferred to German powerhouse FC Bayern Munich.

The inaugural AFC Women’s Club Championship begins on Tuesday, with Nippon TV Beleza to face Jiangsu Suning before Melbourne Victory meet Incheon Hyundai Steel Red Angels on a history-making opening day at Yongin Citizens Sports Park.

Photos: FIFA via Getty Images, AFP, AFC

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