Kuala Lumpur: Dream debuts and match winning moments were the story of the week as Asia’s finest players outside the continent once again showed their class.
In this week’s selection; Yui Hasegawa announced herself as an instant star in Italy, Wataru Endo took his Bundesliga brilliance to dizzy new heights and Allahyar Sayyadmanesh carved out a classic moment in Ukraine, plus flashes of sheer brilliance from Musa Al Taamari and Son Heung-min.
But who deserves the title of Asia’s leading legionnaire for the week just gone? Study our 10-player shortlist, and don’t forget to vote for the most deserving contender.
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Wataru Endo (VfB Stuttgart, Japan)
90 minutes, 2 goals, 1 assist, 88% pass accuracy (5-1 v Schalke 04)
Endo’s super Bundesliga season continues. The Japanese midfielder scored the opening two goals of the match – both of them from the result of smart positioning from corner kicks – then picked up an assist as Stuttgart thrashed Schalke.
Son Heung-min (Korea Republic, Tottenham Hotspur)
90 minutes, 2 assists, 7 shot assists, 93% pass accuracy (4-0 v Burnley)
Korea Republic’s go-to goal scorer has owned the headlines for much of the season, but it was Son the provider who shone on Sunday. He created two goals for Gareth Bale, and had a remarkable seven shot assists in Tottenham’s best league showing in weeks.
Yui Hasegawa (AC Milan, Japan)
67 minutes, 2 goals, 85% pass accuracy, 13 duels won (6-1 v Bari)
It didn’t take long for one of Japan's top midfielders to show her class in the top tier of the Italian women’s game. In her first league start, Hasegawa netted a superb free-kick, then doubled her tally with a wonderful close-range lob as AC Milan hammered struggling Bari 6-1.
Musa Al Taamari (OH Leuven, Jordan)
81 minutes, 1 goal, 92% pass accuracy, 8 interceptions (2-0 v Royal Antwerp)
As far as opening goals in a new league go, not many this season have been better than Musa Al Taamari’s superb strike against Antwerp on Monday. The Jordanian’s 25-yard screamer put the exclamation mark on a standout performance, which kept OH Leuven in the mix for European qualification.
Allahyar Sayyadmanesh (Zorya Luhansk, IR Iran)
90 minutes, 1 assist, 17 duels won, 83% pass accuracy (1-0 v Shakhtar Donetsk)
The moment of the week in Ukrainian football belonged to 19-year-old Iranian forward Allahyar Sayyadmanesh, who produced a sensational last-gasp assist for 10-man Zorya. In the final seconds of the match, the on-loan Fenerbahce youngster collected the ball in his own half and embarked on a brilliant solo run before setting up Dmytro Ivanisenya’s winner against defending champions Shakhtar.
Saki Kumagai (Olympique Lyonnais, Japan)
84 minutes, 1 goal, 85% pass accuracy, 11 duels won (2-0 v Soyaux)
Perhaps only she will know if it was meant to be a shot or a cross, but Saki Kumagai’s successful 30-yard effort against Soyaux underlined another impressive display from the Nadeshiko star. Better known for her defensive qualities, she has now found the net five times in 13 matches for Lyon this season.
Mary Fowler (Montpellier, Australia)
45 minutes, 1 goal, 71% pass accuracy (1-1 v Dijon)
On as a half-time substitute, and just two weeks after her 18th birthday, Mary Fowler once again highlighted her killer instinct in front of goal with a fine 20-yard equaliser for French outfit Montpellier. The Australian youngster has now found the net three times this season.
Ali Gholizadeh (RSC Charleroi, IR Iran)
90 minutes, 1 goal, 10 duels won, 4 successful dribbles (1-2 v KRC Genk)
A return to the International Player of the Week list for Charleroi’s Ali Gholizadeh, who reacted quickest to slam a loose ball into the net in a 2-1 defeat against Genk. The Iranian winger now has seven goals and seven assists this season.
Rebin Sulaka (Levski Sofia, Iraq)
90 minutes, 8 interceptions, 70% defensive duels won (0-0 v CSKA 1948 Sofia)
90 minutes – statistics unavailable (3-1 v Beroe)
Rebin Sulaka made it three clean sheets in a row for new club Levski Sofia, who shared the spoils against city rivals CSKA 1948 on Sunday, before a Cup win over Beroe on Wednesday. Levski haven’t conceded a league goal since the Iraqi defender made his debut for the club on February 14.
James Jeggo (Aris Thessaloniki, Australia)
90 minutes, 85 passes completed, 94% pass accuracy, 13 duels won (3-0 v Atromitos)
Arguably a long overdue inclusion in this list for the Australian international midfielder, who has been a model of consistency in an impressive first season in Greek football’s top tier. Jeggo’s form has helped Aris to second place in the Super League, with European football on the horizon.
Poll ends at 14:00 (UTC+8) on March 8.
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