Kuala Lumpur: Club football has stepped aside for the return of the international game, but several of Asia’s players outside the continent made sure they went into the break in peak form with a series of strong performances over the past week.
Hwang Ui-jo continued his superb form in front of goal in France, Awer Mabil delivered a three-assist masterclass in Denmark, and a trio of Japanese midfielders – Daichi Kamada, Junya Ito and Yui Hasegawa – starred all over Europe.
Throw in AFC International Player of the week returns for Musa Al Taamari, Nikita Rukavytsya and Aias Aosman, and there are plenty of fine contenders to choose from, so study our nominees, based on Performances from March 17 to 23, and don’t forget to cast your vote.
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Hwang Ui-jo (Bordeaux, Korea Republic)
90 minutes, 1 goal, 84% pass accuracy, 1 shot assist (1-3 v Montpellier)
The in-form Korean forward in European football is not Son Heung-min, but his international teammate Hwang Ui-jo, who showed his class with an excellent finish in Ligue 1. The former Gamba Osaka man has now scored nine goals for the season, including three in his last two outings.
Junya Ito (KRC Genk, Japan)
90 minutes, 2 goals, 3 shot assists, 6 successful dribbles (2-2 v Standard Liege)
One of Asia’s quiet achievers in Europe, Junya Ito continued his excellent form for Belgium’s Genk, turning a 0-1 deficit to a 2-1 lead within 15 minutes in a match that ultimately ended in a 2-2 draw against Standard Liege. Ito’s stellar form has been rewarded with a call-up to Japan’s squad for next Tuesday’s Asian Qualifiers clash against Mongolia.
Daichi Kamada (Eintracht Frankfurt, Japan)
90 minutes, 1 assist, 87% pass accuracy, 4 interceptions (5-2 v Union Berlin)
Another member of Japan’s squad in the current international window, Daichi Kamada continued his wonderful season in Germany with another assist as Eintracht Frankfurt ran riot against Union Berlin. Kamada has now set up nine goals this season.
Nikita Rukavystya (Maccabi Haifa, Australia)
64 minutes, 1 goal, 1 assist, 83% pass accuracy (2-0 v Maccabi Netanya)
With fans back in the stands, Nikita Rukavystya once again made sure they went home happy, setting up first goal and scoring the second in a 2-0 win for Maccabi Haifa. The Australian international has now scored 21 goals in all competitions this season.
Awer Mabil (FC Midtjylland, Australia)
90 minutes, 3 assists, 13 duels won (5-0 v Vejle)
A Danish Superliga champion in 2019-20, Awer Mabil turned in a superb display for title-chasing FC Midtjylland, supplying the final pass for the second, third and fourth goals in a 5-0 win over Vejle. The Australian winger had a total of five shot assists in the match.
Aias Aosman (FC Hermannstadt, Syria)
90 minutes, 69 passes completed, 93% pass accuracy to final third (0-1 v Voluntari)
Nominated as a Tuzlaspor player earlier this season, Syria’s Aias Aosman returns to our list, this time for Romanian side FC Hermannstadt. The German-trained midfielder was one the busiest men on the pitch and was unlucky not to open the scoring with an excellent long-range effort just before half-time.
Emily van Egmond (West Ham United, Australia)
90 minutes, 1 goal, 1 assist, 17 duels won (2-2 v Birmingham City)
Emily van Egmond had a significant influence on her side’s 2-2 FA Women’s Super League draw last Wednesday, scoring within seconds of the second-half kick-off, then setting up a goal for Katerina Svitkova. The star Australia midfielder has racked up seven goals and three assists in her first English campaign.
Yui Hasegawa (AC Milan, Japan)
90 minutes, 50 passes completed, 3 shot assists, 18 duels won (1-0 v Empoli)
Already a standout for Japan’s women’s national team, Yui Hasegawa continued her impressive start to life in Italian football, starring in central midfield for AC Milan in their 1-0 win over Empoli on Sunday. In addition to 18 duels won and six interceptions, Hasegawa completed six successful dribbles from seven attempts.
Shahrom Samiev (Dinamo-Auto Tiraspol, Tajikistan)
90 minutes, 1 goal, 1 shot assist (2-2 v Milsami Orhei)
Nominated for the first time after scoring a hat-trick last week, Tajikistan youngster Shahrom Samiev returns to the list of nominees after netting another goal in Moldova on Friday. Samiev’s Dinamo-Auto side found themselves 2-0 down after just seven minutes but fought back to take a point against high-flying Milsami.
Musa Al Taamari (OH Leuven, Jordan)
90 minutes, 2 shot assists, 12 duels won (2-2 v KV Mechelen)
Deployed in a slightly more attacking role on Lueven’s right-hand-side, Musa Al Taamari helped his side extend their unbeaten run to three against Mechelen. The Jordanian international has become well established at Den Dreef Stadion, starting his side’s five matches.
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