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Azmoun, Kerr, Wadi and more: Vote for your AFC International Player of the Week!

Kuala Lumpur: Asia’s ever-expanding list of star exports continued to light up venues from England to Egypt, and we’ve chosen a perfect 10 contenders for this week’s AFC International Player of the Week shortlist.

Azmoun returned to the scoresheet in Russia, Sam Kerr lit up the UEFA Women’s Champions League, plus moments of inspiration from Mahmoud Wadi, Gulzhigit Alykulov and more in another impressive week from Asian players outside the continent.

But who stood out above all others? Study our contenders, based on performances from March 3 to 9, and don’t forget to register your vote at the bottom of the page.

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Sardar Azmoun (Zenit, IR Iran)
90 minutes, 1 goal, 86% pass accuracy, 11 duels won (1-2 v Rubin Kazan)

After watching his national team counterpart Mehdi Taremi bag an extraordinary number of goals in the early months of 2021, Sardar Azmoun netted his first competitive goal of the year, albeit in a 2-1 defeat in Tatarstan. Azmoun’s goal was his 12th of the season, taking him clear in the Russian Premier League Golden Boot race.

Sam Kerr (Chelsea, Australia)
90 minutes, 1 assist, 2 shot assists, 5 successful dribbles (2-0 v Atlético Madrid)
69 minutes, 1 goal, 1 assist, 3 shot assists (3-0 v West Ham United)

Another exceptional week from the Australian national team captain, who ran rings around Atlético Madrid in the UEFA Women’s Champions League, before resuming her scoring form in league action against West Ham. Her tally of 12 league goals this season is second only to Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema in the top division of English football.

Caitlin Foord (Arsenal, Australia)
63 minutes, 2 goals, 100% pass accuracy, 2 shot assists (4-0 v Birmingham City)

Another Australian lighting up the FA Women’s Super League is Caitlin Foord, who scored twice in three minutes as Arsenal eased to a comprehensive away win at Birmingham. Foord has now netted nine league goals this campaign, meaning two of the top four places on the English scoring charts are occupied by Matildas.

Mahmoud Wadi (Pyramids FC, Palestine)
26 minutes, 1 goal, 100% aerial duels won (2-1 v Al Masry)
90 minutes, 1 shot assist, 79% pass accuracy, 6 interceptions (2-0 v Aswan SC)

Mahmoud Wadi continues to make a name for himself in Egypt, this time coming on as a substitute to score the winner against former club Al Masry. The goal, a thumping header following intelligent movement, summed up the best of the Palestinian striker’s talents.

Musa Al Taamari (OH Leuven, Jordan)
83 minutes, 1 assist, 4 shots on target, 89% pass accuracy (3-3 v KAS Eupen)

Fresh from his opening goal for OH Leuven last week, Jordan’s Musa Al Taamari could have scored a hatful had it not been for the saves of Eupen’s Theo Defourny, Still, Al Taamari registered an assist, gave Eupen constant headaches and showed why his stock continues to rise in Belgium.

Gulzhigit Alykulov (Kairat Almaty, Kyrgyz Republic)
66 minutes, 1 goal, 1 assist, 83% pass accuracy, 7 successful dribbles (3-3 v Tobol)
45 minutes, 1 secondary assist, 91% pass accuracy (2-1 v Shakhter Karagandy)

The great hope of Kyrgyz football made a dazzling start to his competitive calendar for 2021, scoring a sensational injury-time equaliser in the Kazakhstan Super Cup semi-final. Alykulov’s wonder strike followed an earlier assist, suggesting his second season in Almaty may be one worth following closely.

Allahyar Sayyadmanesh (Zorya Luhansk, IR Iran)
45 minutes, 2 goals, 71% passes completed (4-0 v FC Lviv)

IR Iran’s boy wonder continues his coming-of-age in the Ukrainian Premier League, scoring two poacher’s efforts in a dominant first half display against Lviv. Zorya’s win keeps them in the mix of the title race, with a huge fixture against leaders Dyanmo Kyiv ahead this weekend.

Harry Souttar (Stoke City, Australia)
90 minutes, 71% defensive duels won, 14 interceptions (1-2 v Swansea City)
90 minutes, 1 goal, 71% defensive duels won, 15 aerial duels won (2-0 v Wycombe Wanderers)

Can he do it on a cold night in Stoke? For Harry Souttar, the answer this season has regularly been in the affirmative. The Australian international defender continued his superb season in England’s Championship, even bagging a goal against Wycombe Wanderers on Sunday.

Karim Ansarifard (AEK Athens, IR Iran)
84 minutes, 3 shots, 12 duels won (0-1 v Volos NFC)
90 minutes, 2 goals, 81% pass accuracy (2-0 Apollon Smirnis)

When it rains, it pours. 11 scoreless games since his last goal, against Larnia two months earlier, Karim Ansarifard had his name on the scoresheet twice within 25 minutes. Ansarifard has now netted 11 times this season in all competitions, by far the most of any AEK player.

Junya Ito (KRC Genk, Japan)
90 minutes, 84% pass accuracy, 9 duels won (4-1 v Mechelen)
90 minutes, 1 goal, 4 shot assists, 86% pass accuracy (2-0 v Cercle Brugge)

Junya Ito perhaps doesn’t generate the headlines of some of the other Asian stars in Europe, but the Japanese attacking midfielder has shown no shortage of quality this season, adding to the list with a sweetly struck goal for Genk. Next on the agenda? A blockbuster Belgian Cup semi-final against Anderlecht on Monday.

Poll ends at 14:00 (UTC+8) on March 14.

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