Kuala Lumpur: It was a footballing year like no other, but despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, Asia’s top players still delivered exceptional performances worthy of wider recognition.
For that reason, the-AFC.com invites you to cast your vote in Asia’s Choice – Fan Awards: Best AFC Champions League Player in 2020, with 60 percent of the votes to be directly supplied by fans, and the winners to be revealed on January 24.
In the most of unique seasons, Asia's elite clubs delivered a compelling, high-quality competition, culminating in a gripping final in Doha.
But who was the standout individual in the eyes of Asia's fans? Please take your time to study the 15-man shortlist, and don’t forget to cast your vote.
See also :
Asia’s Choice – Fan Awards: Best AFC International Player of 2020
AFC Champions League
Vote for your best 2020 AFC Champions League Team: Midfielders
AFC Champions League
Persepolis' Mehdi Abdi Qara wins Best Goal of 2020 AFC Champions League
Júnior Negrão - Ulsan Hyundai FC (KOR)
With two goals in the final, five in the knockout stage and seven in the tournament, veteran Brazilian forward Júnior made an unforgettable contribution to Ulsan Hyundai’s triumph in Doha.
The 34-year-old was exceptional all season, scoring 35 goals in all competitions, but it was his heroics on the continental stage that wrote his name into the annals of Asian football history.
Sultan Al Ghannam - Al Nassr (KSA)
Al Nassr’s full-back extraordinaire certainly had an extraordinary tournament, playing an important role as the Saudi club went within a penalty shootout victory of reaching the final.
Defensively excellent, and the creator of no less than four goals going forward, Al Ghannam had an influence at both ends of the pitch like few players in the competition.
Jaloliddin Masharipov - FC Pakhtakor (UZB)
As Uzbekistan champions Pakhtakor reached the last eight for the first time since 2009, Jaloliddin Masharipov emerged again and again as their creative force.
Starting with his spectacular lobbed goal against Shabab Al Ahli Dubai in February, Masharipov was Pakhtakor’s shining light, and although his campaign ended with the despair of a quarter-final red card, his performance throughout the campaign was exceptional.
Shojae Khalilzadeh - Persepolis FC (IRN)
A defensive colossus, and the scorer of the two goals himself, Persepolis centre-back Khalilzadeh produced an exemplary tournament, helping the Tehran giants go six consecutive matches without conceding in open play.
Unfortunately for Persepolis, Khalilzadeh moved to Qatar Stars League club Al Rayyan in October, ruling him out of the December final.
Kim Min-woo - Suwon Samsung Bluewings (KOR)
A depleted Suwon Samsung Bluewings side’s run to the quarter-finals was one of the surprises of the competition, and at the heart of all things positive was 30-year-old midfielder Kim Min-woo.
The Korea Republic international was terrific throughout, but especially in Suwon’s superb 3-2 win over Yokohama F. Marinos, in which he provided the assist for Kim Tae-hwan’s equaliser and scored a brilliant goal himself.
Bashar Resan – Persepolis FC (IRN)
Another key figure in Persepolis’ march to their second final in three years was Iraq international Bashar Resan, who delivered a string of impressive performances during the competition.
A scorer against Al Taawoun, provider of assists against Sharjah and Al Nassr and a creator of chances against all-comers, the 24-year-old solidified his status as an Asian star, and has since departed Persepolis to join Qatar SC.
Bjørn Johnsen – Ulsan Hyundai FC (KOR)
The classic super sub. Ulsan Hyundai’s success had plenty to do with the exploits of striker Bjørn Johnsen, who found the back of the net time and time again despite limited time on the pitch
He scored five goals in the tournament – all of them as a substitute – and became the first Norwegian to win the ACL, carving out a unique role in his side’s continental triumph.
Jonathan Viera – Beijing FC (CHN)
While their run was ultimately halted by Ulsan Hyundai in the quarter-finals, the 2020 AFC Champions League was a terrific tournament for Beijing FC, who broke a number of club records, and one of their outstanding individuals was Jonathan Viera.
The Spanish attacking midfielder created more chances than any other player, finishing the tournament with two goals, four assists and plaudits from around the continent.
Andres Iniesta – Vissel Kobe (JPN)
If there’s any player on the list who doesn’t require introduction it’s the 2010 FIFA World Cup winner, but it isn’t just reputation that puts Iniesta in this list; he was exceptional throughout.
That same old technique and intelligence were there, as were crucial goals against Guangzhou Evergrande and Shanghai SIPG, but injury cruelly denied the 36-year-old an appearance in the semi-final as Vissel Kobe went within a whisker of reaching the decider.
Yoon Bit-garam – Ulsan Hyundai FC (KOR)
Voted the official tournament MVP, Yoon was one of competition's outstanding individuals, combining stability with the sublime for champions Ulsan Hyundai.
He completed over 500 passes at a rate of over 90 percent accuracy, scored four goals – including two terrific strikes in the same match against FC Tokyo – and departed Doha not only as an AFC Champions League winner, but as one of the tournament’s leading men.
Abderrazak Hamdallah – Al Nassr (KSA)
Al Nassr’s impressive run in the competition may have ended at the semi-final stage, but they did finish with one piece of silverware thanks to Golden Boot winner Abderrazak Hamdallah.
Seven goals in seven games is good going at any level, but to achieve such a feat in Asia’s premier competition underlines the Moroccan star’s exceptional quality and efficiency in front of goal.
Renato Augusto – Beijing FC (CHN)
An Olympic gold medallist in 2016, Brazilian midfielder maestro Renato Augusto lived up to his billing once more, producing an array of dazzling performances in Beijing FC’s charge to the last eight.
He scored two goals, including a sensational acrobatic volley against FC Seoul, but it was the Beijing skipper’s all-around brilliance which made him one of the must-watch players of the 2020 AFC Champions League.
Hamed Lak – Persepolis FC (IRN)
Persepolis’ progression through the competition was built on keeping clean sheets, and they couldn’t have wished for a more reliable last line of defence than goalkeeper Hamed Lak.
Having only joined the club in September, Lak was superb, conceding only four goals in eight matches – three scored directly from penalties, and the other put in on the rebound after the Iranian shot-stopper had saved an initial Júnior Negrão spot-kick in the final.
Kyogo Furuhashi – Vissel Kobe (JPN)
The spotlight followed Andres Iniesta wherever Vissel Kobe went in the tournament, but fans tuning in to see the former Barcelona star would have been equally impressed by the excellent performances of Kyogo Furuhashi.
The winger was electric for Vissel, adding energy, skill and goals to help the tournament debutants go all the way to the dying minutes of extra-time in the semi-finals.
Jo Su-huk – Ulsan Hyundai FC (KOR)
From understudy to over-achiever, Ulsan Hyundai goalkeeper Jo Su-huk didn’t play a single minute in the 2020 K League season, but regular starter Jo Hyeon-woo’s absence provided an opportunity which the 33-year-old took, like most things in Doha, with both hands.
He never conceded more than one goal in a match, but it was his knockout stage performances which stood out – particularly against Beijing and Vissel Kobe - as Jo emerged as the unlikely hero, and an Asian champion.
*Poll ends at 14:00 (UTC+8) on January 22. Fans can vote for their favourite player once a day. Results for all categories will be announced on January 24.
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