Li Ke: I aim to do even better with China PR, Beijing FC
Beijing: It has been a whirlwind 18 months for England-born midfielder Li Ke, who moved to Beijing FC last January before taking up Chinese citizenship and making his debut under FIFA World Cup winner Marcello Lippi. He tells the-AFC.com about his new life in China PR.
Li Ke admits to being apprehensive the first time he was called up for the China national team, when the former Arsenal and Brentford midfielder was included by Marcello Lippi in his squad to face the Philippines in Guangzhou last June.
Kuala Lumpur: With the 2020 AFC Champions League currently on hiatus, the-AFC.com continues its series of articles to determine your best sides from the last four editions of the Continental competition.
Kuala Lumpur: It’s home to some of the game’s biggest clubs and many of the greatest players, not to mention one of world football’s most compelling rivalries.
La Liga, the top division of Spanish football, holds a place in the consciousness of fans throughout the globe, and it is also a nation which has played host to some standout players from the world’s largest continent.
In increasing numbers, Asian players are flocking to Spain, with some of the continent’s brightest prospects now making it their first port of call in European football.
With La Liga resuming this week, we invite you to decide which Asian player has made the biggest impact in Spanish football.
Magical Moments: Park Ji-sung vs Portugal (2002 FIFA World Cup)
Kuala Lumpur: When Korea Republic’s Park Ji-sung arrived at the 2002 FIFA World Cup Finals he was already a well-established and highly regarded member of the Taeguk Warriors squad.
Indeed, with the Koreans sharing the tournament’s hosting duties alongside regional rivals Japan, much was expected of both Park and the rest of Guus Hiddink’s squad ahead of their campaign against the world’s elite. Neither were to disappoint.
Vote for your best Asian team at the FIFA World Cup: Goalkeeper
Kuala Lumpur: With international football on hiatus until later in 2020, the-AFC.com looks back at some of Asia's greatest performers at the FIFA World Cup and asks you, the fans, to vote for the Best XI.
To select the candidates for each position, we have reflected on match data from FIFA World Cups dating all the way back to 1966 and presented a statistics-based approach to highlight the players who have shone brightest on the biggest stage of all.
We start our series of articles with the three candidates in contention for the all-important number one jersey. With a combined 11 FIFA World Cup editions between them, the trio boast a wealth of experience at the global showpiece. So, review the nominees and then choose your favourite goalkeeper to helm the rearguard for this all-star XI in the poll below.
Asian Classics: Vingada relives Saudi Arabia's 1996 AFC Asian Cup triumph
Kuala Lumpur: Throughout the 1980s and 90s, Saudi Arabia were the dominant force at the AFC Asian Cup, winning the Continental title in their first two appearances – in 1984 and 1988 – and finishing as runners-up to Japan in 1992.
But as the clock ticked towards the 1996 Finals in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia were under pressure. Coach Ze Mario had been fired following a disappointing showing at the Gulf Cup and new man Nelo Vingada given a month to prepare his team for the Finals.
Despite the difficulties, the Portuguese coach would lead Saudi Arabia to a record-equalling third continental title, the last time – to date – the country would claim the most prestigious trophy in the Asian game.
Sydney: John Aloisi may not have shared a dressing room with Javad Nekounam, but he knows plenty about his fellow former Osasuna player.
Former Australia striker Aloisi scored 37 goals in 129 appearances for the club from 2001 to 2005, while IR Iran’s Nekounam, who joined in 2006, would go on to become a fan favourite over two stints and nearly 200 matches for Los Rojillos.
The duo - alongside another former Iranian Osasuna star, Masoud Shojaei - are both in the running for this week’s Asia’s Greatest Players in Spanish Football poll, and according to Aloisi, Nekounam was a highly respected figure at the club.