Singapore: As much of the world went into lockdown in a bid to suppress the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Hougang United defender Zac Anderson buried his head deeper into his books in his latest move towards life after football.
Soon after the Singapore Premier League suspended play on March 24, the 29-year-old was continuing his work towards a Masters degree in Business Administration, all part of a plan to prepare for the days when he no longer pulls on his boots and takes to football fields around Asia.
Kuala Lumpur: It's that time of the week when the-AFC.com looks back at some of the finest goals the AFC Champions League has witnessed during its rich history, with the latest '5 of the Best' taking in chips, lobs and scoops.
Following on from the opening four editions – acrobatic goals, solo goals, volleys and long-range stunners – this week's compilation sees beautifully executed finishes from Saudi giants Al Ittihad and Al Hilal as well as entrants from FC Seoul, Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Guangzhou Evergrande, so sit back and enjoy!
Asia's World Cup Heroes: Expert verdict and results!
Kuala Lumpur: Two weeks ago, the-AFC.com profiled five Asian FIFA World Cup heroes from over the years and asked the fans to vote for their favourite. Now, it's the turn of our experts panel.
Given the choice of Sami Al Jaber, Alireza Beiranvand, Tim Cahill, Keisuke Honda and Park Ji-sung, the fans' vote was won by Iranian goalkeeper Beiranvand, with Japan's Honda and Saudi legend Al Jaber coming in second and third place respectively – a decision that goes towards 25 percent of the overall result.
Tehran: IR Iran have been a mainstay at the FIFA World Cup in recent years. With Carlos Queiroz at the helm, Team Melli graced Brazil 2014 and were the first Asian side to secure a berth at Russia 2018. And while they failed to go beyond the group stage in the latter tournament, they had the consolation of impressive performances there against Portugal, Spain and Morocco.
After Queiroz’s departure, the country’s football federation turned to Marc Wilmots, but after some disappointing results in the current round of Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023, the Belgian was replaced.
The new man at the helm is Croatian Dragan Skocic, who spoke with FIFA.com about his appointment and the task ahead.
After long isolation, Steel Roses welcome Wang’s return
Suzhou: Chinese women’s national team head coach Jia Xiuquan has paid tribute to returning star Wang Shuang, after the 2018 AFC Women’s Player of the Year joined her teammates for the first time since being separated as a result of the coronavirus.
The former Paris Saint-Germain spent more than two months in isolation in Wuhan, forcing her to miss China PR’s Tokyo Olympic Qualifiers in Australia and continue her training within the confines of her apartment building.
With Wuhan’s lockdown finally at an end, and after a week or quarantine within the team camp, Wang and fellow Wuhan locals Lv Yueyun and Yao Wei finally took part in a training session with their international teammates on Thursday.
Kuala Lumpur: Over the past few decades, Asian football has produced some iconic national teams. Having looked at Saudi Arabia’s majestic men's side from the 1980s and 1990s and China PR's women's team of the 1990s, next on this series is Kuwait’s mighty 1980s team.
Kuwait currently sit 156th in the latest FIFA Ranking, only 14 AFC nations are ranked lower, but things haven’t always been this way for the West Asian nation. Indeed, there was a time where Kuwait were Asian champions, competed at the FIFA World Cup and reached the quarter-finals of the Olympic Games.
Uzbekistan’s breakout star Yakhshiboev aiming beyond Belarus
Minsk: With the gaze of a football-starved world increasingly turning towards Belarus, Uzbekistan youngster Jasurbek Yakhshiboev has become an instant star of one of the world’s only active leagues, but the 22-year-old has ambitions far beyond Minsk.
The New York Times labelled it “an outlier in European soccer”, while former Manchester United star and current Navbahor head coach Andrei Kanchelskis admitted he had been watching the action unfold “like everyone else in the world”.
It is unlikely comments of that nature would have been made about the Belarusian Premier League prior to 2020, but while COVID-19 has brought the rest of European football to an abrupt halt, the little-known league’s continuation through unprecedented circumstances has seen it thrust into the international spotlight.