Asian Icons

Vote for your AFC International Player of the Week

Kuala Lumpur: After accumulating tens of thousands of votes in the opening two editions, we continue our weekly celebration of some of Asia’s best performers on the global stage; the AFC International Player of the Week.

Among our 10 nominees – up from eight due to the sheer scale of outstanding performers – are some of the continent’s biggest stars, but who deserves this week’s title? It’s up to you to decide.

Here are our contenders from September 22 to 28.

See also :

Sardar Azmoun (Zenit Saint Petersburg, IR Iran)
80 minutes, 2 goals, 2 shot assists (6-0 v Ufa)

The Team Melli star returned to the scoresheet for the first time in September, finding the back of the net twice in Zenit’s resounding 6-0 Russian Premier League win over Ufa.

Azmoun scored a thumping volleyed opener, then calmly slotted a second following a counter-attacking move. He then left the match early with an injury, later confirming he hadn’t sustained serious damage.

Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur, Korea Republic)
90 minutes, 1 goal, 2 assists (3-1 v Shkëndija)
45 minutes, 88% pass competition (1-1 v Newcastle United)

Fresh from winning last week’s International Player of the Week vote thanks to a historic four-goal haul, Son continued his blistering form during Tottenham’s UEFA Europa League qualifying win over Macedonian outfit Shkëndija.

The Korean star was directly involved in all three of Spurs goals in the midweek clash but, like Azmoun, suffered an injury in his weekend league outing, which finished in a 1-1 draw against Newcastle.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh (Brighton and Hove Albion, IR Iran)
84 minutes, 1 goal, 80% accuracy, passes into penalty area (2-0 v Preston)
26 minutes, 1 assist, 94% pass accuracy (2-3 v Manchester United)

Alireza Jahanbakhsh also picks up his second consecutive nomination, making a positive impact in two matches in a span of less than 72 hours.

The 27-year-old continued his recent love affair with the League Cup with a goal against Preston, then came off the bench to set up Solly March’s 84th minute equaliser against Manchester United, only for Brighton to concede an even later goal in one of the games of the weekend.

Takumi Minamino (Liverpool, Japan)
90 minutes, 2 goals, 1 assist, (7-2 v Lincoln City)
2 minutes (3-1 v Arsenal)

Liverpool’s Takumi Minamino was another Asian star to make the most of a League Cup start, producing a standout display as the English champions crushed League One outfit Lincoln City.

Minamino found the net with expertly taken strikes in the 18th and 46th minutes, before setting up Divock Origi for Liverpool’s seventh and final goal in a dominant performance.

Ali Adnan (Vancouver Whitecaps, Iraq)
90 minutes, 88% pass accuracy, 19 duels won, 9 interceptions (0-1 v Portland)

Vancouver Whitecaps - without Ali Adnan - were thrashed 6-0 by LAFC last Wednesday, but the Iraq international made a significant difference to the Canadian outfit when he returned for their following match with Portland Timbers.

They may have still lost the match, but former Serie A star Adnan helped to shore up the Whitecaps defence, leading the team for tackles and completing more than 50 passes in a match for the first time in 2020.

Hayley Raso (Everton, Australia)
90 minutes, 1 assist, 6 successful dribbles, 7 interceptions (2-1 v Chelsea)

Injuries, international duty and a global pandemic have severely interrupted Hayley Raso’s first year in English football, but the Australian star was outstanding on Sunday, helping Everton to a momentous 2-1 Women’s FA Cup win over league champions Chelsea.

Raso was instrumental for the Toffees, wreaking havoc down the left side and providing the pinpoint cross for Valerie Gauvin’s 63rd-minute winner.

Ellie Carpenter (Olympique Lyonnais, Australia)
90 minutes, 1 goal, 60 passes completed (2-1 Bordeaux)

Another Australian women’s star having an impact in Europe is full-back Ellie Carpenter, who scored her first goal for her new club, European champions Lyon, in their 2-1 win over Bordeaux.

The 20-year-old powered her side into the lead shortly before half-time, but it was her all around display which suggested she has quickly settled into life at one of the world’s most successful clubs.

Hwang In-beom (Rubin Kazan, Korea Republic)
90 minutes, 1 assist, 73 passes completed, 10 duels won (3-1 v Rotor)

Korean midfielder Hwang In-beom continued his terrific form at his new Russian club Rubin Kazan, returning from a one-match suspension to help the Tatarstan outfit to a 3-1 win over Rotor Volgograd.

The 23-cap international was a highly effective contributor throughout the match, and played a key role in the opening goal when he supplied a perfectly clipped cross for teammate Dorde Despotović.

Reza Ghoochannejhad (PEC Zwolle, IR Iran)
79 minutes, 2 goals, 2 shots at goal (4-0 v Sparta Rotterdam)

While many of this week’s nominees are players still making their mark on the international stage, one of Asia’s veteran strikers also issued a reminder of his quality on Saturday.

Reza Ghoochannejhad, the 33-year-old former IR Iran forward, netted a penalty kick just before half-time, then doubled his tally with a poacher’s effort a minute after the break as PEC Zwolle cruised to a 4-0 win in their Eredivisie match.

Nikita Rukavytsya (Maccabi Haifa, Australia)
90 minutes, 1 goal, 1 assist (2-1 v Rostov)

Another 33-year-old, Australia’s Nikita Rukavytsya, continued his exceptional run of form for Maccabi Haifa, playing a pivotal role as the Israeli club knocked FC Rostov out of the UEFA Europa League in Russia last Thursday.

A nominee in this poll last week, Rukavytsya scored Haifa’s first goal and provided the pass for the second, taking his tally to a stunning eight goals and three assists in his last six games.

Poll ends at 16:00 (UTC +8) on October 3.

Photos: AFP

Recommended Stories :