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Vote for your AFC International Player of the Week

Kuala Lumpur: A first goal in the Premier League, a first in the UEFA Women’s Champions League, and three first-time nominees make our final AFC International Player of the Week of 2020 one with a distinct sense of freshness.

With much of Europe deep in its winter cold, Asia’s players abroad continue to turn up the heat, with 10 contenders based in six separate countries in the discussion for this week’s award.

Here are our nominees for performances from December 16 to 22.

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Takumi Minamino (Liverpool, Japan)
90 minutes, 1 goal, 90% pass accuracy (7-0 v Crystal Palace)

This week’s list of Asia’s top performers begins with Takumi Minamino, who netted his long-awaited first Premier League in Liverpool’s 7-0 thumping of Crystal Palace. The Japanese forward now has four goals in all competitions this season.

Sam Kerr (Chelsea, Australia)
74 minutes, 1 goal, 69% pass accuracy (3-0 Benfica)

There was also a first for Chelsea’s Australian star Sam Kerr, who netted her first UEFA Women’s Champions League goal against Portugal’s Benfica, taking her tally to five in her last three matches.

Caitlin Foord (Arsenal, Australia)
73 minutes, 1 goal, 92% pass accuracy (4-0 v Everton)

Staying in London, where Kerr’s Matildas teammate Caitlin Foord continued her superb run of form for Arsenal with a well-taken goal in a 4-0 FA Women’s Super League win over Everton.

Sardar Azmoun (Zenit Saint-Petersburg, IR Iran)
89 minutes, 1 goal, 72% pass accuracy, 10 duels won (3-1 v Spartak Moscow)

Another game, another goal for Team Melli’s main man who goes into the Russian Premier League’s winter break with 11 goals from 14 league appearances. No player in the league has scored more.

Ali Gholizadeh (Charleroi, IR Iran)
90 minutes, 1 goal, 76% pass accuracy (1-0 v Anderlecht)

Another Iranian making regular appearances in this poll is Charleroi’s Ali Gholizadeh, who scored a dramatic injury-time winner against Belgian giants Anderlecht in the league on Friday. It was Gholizadeh’s second goal in four days.

Ryota Morioka (Charleroi, Japan)
90 minutes, 1 assist, 54 passes completed, 11 interceptions (1-0 v Anderlecht)

Crucial in the construction of that goal, and Charleroi’s performance as a whole was Ryota Morioka. The Japanese midfielder was impressive throughout, helping his club retain third place as the turn of the year draws ever closer.

Yuma Suzuki (Sint-Truiden, Japan)
82 minutes, 1 goal, 2 shot assists, 75% pass accuracy (2-0 v Zulte-Waregem)

The third and final Belgium-based player in contention this week is Japanese forward Yuma Suzuki, who put struggling Sint-Truiden on the path to a crucial away win over Zulte-Waregem on Saturday. The former AFC Champions League winner has six goals for the season.

John-Patrick Strauß (Erzgebirge Aue, Philippines)
90 minutes, 1 assist, 12 duels won, 9 interceptions (4-1 v Karlsruher SC)
82 minutes, 14 duels won, 7 successful dribbles (0-1 v Nurnberg)

The first Philippines international to be nominated for International Player of the Week, John-Patrick Strauß earns his call-up off the back of two strong performances in the second tier of German football. A central midfielder for the Azkals, Strauß has impressed as full-back for Erzgebirge Aue, particularly in the 4-1 win over Karlsruher last Thursday.

Nikita Rukavytsya (Maccabi Haifa, Australia)
85 minutes, 1 goal, 76% pass accuracy (2-1 v Maccabi Petah Tikva)

Nikita Rukavytsya’s magical 2020-21 season continues with yet another goal, this time scoring a near-post header in a 2-1 win over Maccabi Petah Tikva. The Australian international has scored 16 goals in his last 16 games.

Mehdi Taremi (FC Porto, IR Iran)
78 minutes, 1 assist, 94% pass accuracy (2-0 v Nacional)

Iranian striker Taremi returns to our list despite not finding the back of the net in Porto’s Primeira Liga win over Nacional. He did, however, set up a goal for striker partner Moussa Marega, with Taremi supplying four goals and one assist in his last eight appearances.

*The poll has ended. Thank you for voting.

Photos: AFP, Caitlin Foord

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