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Vote for your best Asian team at the FIFA World Cup: Midfielders


Kuala Lumpur: As the-AFC.com continues its quest to find out who you, the fans, regard as the finest Asian players to have starred at the FIFA World Cup by compiling an all-time Best XI, we turn our attention to the midfield positions. 

Having discovered who you view as the the best goalkeeper and the ideal candidates for the backline, we now shine the spotlight on the more attacking positions, with a star-studded cast for you to choose from, including world-renowned performers such as Park, Nakata and Honda.

So, review the nominees and then choose your favourite for this all-star XI in the poll below.

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Park Ji-sung – Korea Republic (2002, 2006, 2010)

  • 14 appearances (#1 among Asian midfielders at the FIFA World Cup)
  • 28 tackles won (#1 among Asian midfielders at the FIFA World Cup)
  • 3 goals, 26 chances created

One of the most respected and successful players Asia has ever produced, Park Ji-sung was just 21 when he broke onto the global stage at the 2002 FIFA World Cup on home soil. The Seoul native scored the decisive goal that secured a famous 1-0 win over Portugal and a place in the knockout rounds and continued to shine brightly as the Taeguk Warriors reached the semi-finals.

By 2006 and now at Manchester United, Park's goal in the final 10 minutes of the group stage clash with France sealed a 1-1 draw and another notable result but, this time the East Asians fell at the first hurdle despite having picked up four points.

Four years later Park was back at the global showpiece as his country's captain and he found the back of the net for the third successive World Cup in a 2-0 win over Greece at South Africa 2010. The Koreans advanced to the last 16, before defeat to Uruguay proved his last act at football's biggest festival.


Hidetoshi Nakata – Japan (1998, 2002, 2006)

  • 10 appearances
  • 1 goal, 16 chances created
  • 75% tackle success rate

A trailblazer for Japanese footballers moving to Europe, Hidetoshi Nakata was the star of the Samurai Blue team that first appeared on the world stage back at France 1998, when three defeats from three may not have grabbed too many headlines, but most likely offered a valuable learning curve for what was to come four years later.

Having won Serie A with Roma in 2001, Nakata was renowned among football fans the world over when the 2002 World Cup was co-hosted in his homeland. He did not disappoint as Japan captured the hearts of the nation by advancing to the last 16 for the first time, with the midfielder netting in the crucial win over Tunisia.

Despite being just 29 years old, the 2006 World Cup in Germany would be the last time Nakata appeared on the football pitch as, following Japan's group stage exit on the back of defeat to Brazil, he announced his retirement.


Mark Bresciano – Australia (2006, 2010, 2014)

  • 9 appearances
  • 83.6% passing accuracy
  • 67% dribble sucess rate

Part of the first Australian team to appear at a World Cup since 1974, Mark Bresciano was substituted in their 2006 opener against Japan before the Socceroos began their remarkable late fightback to claim a first win at the tournament. However, brought off the bench in the third game against Croatia, his cross led to Harry Kewell levelling and Australia advancing to the next round for the first time.

Bresciano started in the heartbreaking last-gasp defeat to eventual champions Italy as they exited with heads held high, before there was more bad luck four years later. After missing the opening-day defeat against Germany, Bresciano was in the line-up as the Socceroos claimed an impressive four points from two games against Ghana and Serbia, only to exit on goal difference.

The 2014 showpiece in Brazil was Bresciano's last appearance at the World Cup but there was no happy ending, Australia exiting following defeats to Chile, the Netherlands and Spain.


Fuad Anwar – Saudi Arabia (1994, 1998)

  • 6 appearances
  • 2 goals
  • 23 interceptions, 12 tackles won

Scorer of Saudi Arabia's first-ever FIFA World Cup goal, Fuad Anwar's header stunned a star-studded Dutch side to put the Green Falcons a goal up in their USA 94 opener and, while they would lose 2-1, the tournament would only get better.

Anwar's swerving shot from distance then proved decisive in his country's maiden World Cup win as they saw off Morocco 2-1 and he achieved legendary status in his homeland. Suspended for the famous win over Belgium, the Al Shabab star returned for the last 16 loss to Sweden.

While France 98 didn't match up to USA 94 in terms of achievement, Anwar captained his country, notably leading the Green Falcons out against the hosts and eventual champions at a packed Parc de France. A solitary point was picked up in his absence in their final group game against South Africa.


Kim Nam-il – Korea Republic (2002, 2006, 2010)

  • 11 appearances (#2 among Asian midfielders at the FIFA World Cup)
  • 23 tackles won (#2 among Asian midfielders at the FIFA World Cup)
  • 25 interceptions (#3 among Asian midfielders at the FIFA World Cup)

A regular in the Korea Republic side between 2001 and 2010, Kim Nal-il played just short of 100 times times for his country, including at three FIFA World Cups between 2002 and 2010 as his defensive midfield qualities were admired by a number of different coaches.

In 2002, Kim played in the Taeguk Warriors' first five matches, when they conceded just two goals and remained unbeaten; however, the then Jeonnam Dragons player went off injured in the quarter-final against Spain and subsequently missed the rest of the competition as his country exited to Germany then lost the third place play-off against Turkey.

Kim appeared in all three games in 2006 and came off the bench in each of his side's group stage games in 2010 but a 2-2 draw against Nigeria, in which the midfielder conceded a penalty, proved his last World Cup game as he played no part in the Round of 16 defeat to Uruguay.


Keisuke Honda – Japan (2010, 2014, 2018)

  • 10 appearances
  • 4 goals (#1 among Asian midfielders at the FIFA World Cup)
  • 3 assists (Joint #1 among Asian midfielders at the FIFA World Cup)

Keisuke Honda broke onto the World Cup scene in style in 2010, marking his competition debut with a neat finish at the back post that secured a 1-0 win over Cameroon. There was more to come as a fabulous free-kick from distance against Denmark set the Samurai Blue on their way to a 3-1 win and the last 16 before ultimately exiting on penalties to Paraguay.

Honda riffled home Japan's first goal of the 2014 campaign in Brazil to put the East Asians a goal to the good against Cote d'Ivoire, but Alberto Zaccheroni's much-hyped team collapsed as the West Africans fought back to win 2-1. A scoreless draw against Greece and a heavy defeat to Colombia spelt the end for Honda for another four years.

By 2018 in Russia, Honda was being used as more of an impact substitute and he played his role to perfection against Senegal in their second group game, coming off the bench to equalise with a goal that was crucial in Japan reaching the knockout stages for the third time. In doing so, they became the first Asian team to achieve the feat.


Ki Sung-yueng – Korea Republic (2010, 2014, 2018)

  • 9 appearances
  • 3 assists (Joint #1 among Asian midfielders at the FIFA World Cup)
  • 92% passing accuracy

A classy midfielder with excellent vision, Ki Sung-yueng was just seven minutes into his World Cup debut in 2010 when his delivery set up Lee Jung-soo for the opening goal in a 2-0 win over Greece, and a pair of wicked deliveries against both Nigeria and Uruguay led to two more Korean goals before they exited at the hands of the South Americans.

By 2014, Ki was one of the more established players in a young Taeguk Warriors squad that disappointed in Brazil. The midfielder started every game, but Korea picked up just a solitary point and exited, with a 4-2 loss to Algeria arguably one of the biggest disappointments they've suffered on the global stage.

Captain at Russia 2018, Ki skippered a team that may not have excelled but closed out the tournament with their most famous victory since 2002. However, having lost to Sweden and Mexico, the midfielder was unfortunate that injury ruled him out of the stunning 2-0 win over Germany that eliminated the defending champions.


Mile Jedinak – Australia (2010, 2014, 2018)

  • 7 appearances
  • 3 goals
  • 80.7% passing accuracy

A late cameo off the bench in a heavy defeat to Germany was the only game time Mile Jedinak received on his World Cup debut in 2010, but the New South Wales native has captained his country in the two editions since.

The penalty specialist put his side 2-1 up from the spot against the Netherlands at Brazil 2014 in one of the most exciting games of the group stage, but Australia were unable to hold on for a shock victory with the Dutch running out 3-2 winners.

A calm presence in the centre of the park, Jedinak was again scoring from 12 yards at Russia 2018, equalising against France and then once more against Denmark, although a draw with the Danes was the only point gained in a disappointing campaign.


Now that you've read up on our eight midfielders, vote for your favourite in the poll and secure them a place in Asia's Best XI at the FIFA World Cup. Poll ends at 1600 (UTC 8) on June 30

The Best XI chosen by fans and the Best XI based on the statistics will be announced in early July.

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