Continental XI’s: Who are the best AFC Players in the World ?

Matthew Spiranovic, Mathew Ryan, Son Heung-Min - Matthew ...
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As a continuation from Continental XI’s series of articles, I will be looking at the best Asian Football Confederation players in the world right now and, as this governing body includes Oceania, so will I. Football in Asia is developing rapidly and hopefully my suggestion of top XI Asian and Oceanic players in 4-4-2 formation will mirror the previous article.

Matt Ryan (Australia)
There are not many options available but Matt Ryan is definitely at the top of the list. Brighton’s number one may not be having the best season but he is undeniably a quality goalkeeper. 


Hiroki Sakai (Japan)
Not many fullback options but Sakai is miles ahead of the next player. Playing for Marseille for the last four seasons as both a right back and a left back and has featured regularly for Japan since 2012. He peaked in the 2017/18 season as he made 50 appearances in all competitions for Marseille and was the starting fullback in the World Cup squad in Russia. 

Makoto Hasebe (Japan)
The Frankfurt centre-back may be 36 but is still a regular in the German side having made 44 appearances last season and 36 this season so far. He may often play as a defensive midfielder but is more often used as a centre back for Frankfurt. He retired from international football after the 2018 World Cup having made 114 appearances since 2006. 

Maya Yoshida (Japan)

Yoshida currently plays as a centre back for Serie A side Sampdoria, on loan from English Premier League club Southampton and captains the Japanese national team. In the 2019–20 season, Yoshida made his first appearance of the season, starting the whole game, in a 2–1 loss against Liverpool on 17 August 2019. He was a first team regular for the Saints for the next two months. By the time he departed the club, Yoshida made eleven appearance this season. On 31 January 2020, Yoshida joined Serie A side Sampdoria on loan until the end of the season but has only made one appearance since the move. 

Yuto Nagatomo (Japan)

Another aging Japanese star, Nagatomo is once again a clear favourite for the left back position. Having made 170 appearances for Inter Milan from 2011-2018, he moved to Galatasaray first on loan in 2018 and then permanently at the end of the season for more game time and has featured 65 times in two seasons. Again Nagatomo remains a regular for Japan and even at 33 is a quality player for club and country.

Takumi Minamino (Japan)
He may not have shone for Liverpool yet but he is one of the best players in Asia and for Salzburg this season he has scored 9 goals and set up 11 more before his dream move to Anfield. He has an excellent record for Japan having made his debut in 2015, scoring 11 goals in 22 games and will hope to impress Jurgen Klopp after a stuttering start.

Aaron Mooy (Australia)
A quality player for Huddersfield and has been important in keeping Brighton afloat so far this season. He is an important engine in the midfield and gets the play flowing forward. He is a crucial player for Australia having played 43 times since 2012 and is likely to be an important player in the 2022 World Cup. 

Shinji Kagawa (Japan)
Kagawa starred for Dortmund in both spells between a sub-par period at Old Trafford. He is still a quality playmaker at Real Zaragoza and has an excellent record for Japan with 31 goals in 97 games. 

Keisuke Honda (Japan)
A Japanese legend who currently for Botafogo, a versatile player who usually plays as an attacking midfielder, but he can equally play as a winger, a  false  nine or as a deep lying playmaker  and frequently featured as a right winger for Milan during the  2014-2015 season. A quick, creative, strong, and useful player, he is also known for his accuracy from bending free kicks, a thunderbolt of a left foot and an expert dead ball specialist. He has earned over 90 international caps between 2008 and 2018, playing at the 2010, 2014 and 2018 World Cups. He also won the 2011 Asain Cup, where he was also voted Player of the Tournament. 

Son Heung-min (South Korean)  
Born 8 July 1992 is who plays as a winger for  Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur and  captains the South Korean national team. Considered one of the best wingers in the world. Son is known as a valuable attacker due to his ability to use both feet equally well, and his powerful and accurate shooting. He often played as a second striker, but he can also play as a winger, striker and rarely attacking midfielder attacking midfielder. Son’s explosive pace and positional sense are also his great strengths. He is known for his ability to find and win space to play, and his close control and clinical finishing with make him a deadly forward, especially on counter-attacks. Moreover, he has drawn praise from teammates and in the media for his selfless work-rate and defensive contribution, and is capable of providing assists for teammates, in addition to scoring goals himself. Son was selected as one of the 30 best players in the world for 2019.

Chris Wood (New Zealand)
A quality striker for a while now. Chris Wood has earned his price tag five times over now for Burnley with double figures for goals in all three of his seasons at Turf Moor. He has racked up 35 goals in 101 appearances and the fact he is generally feeding off scraps only makes this stat more impressive. He is even more prolific for New Zealand as he has scored 24 goals in 57 games for the Kiwis and has far fewer chances in those matches too. A great addition to most teams. 

Manager: Hajime Moriyasu (Japan)
Coached under the former manager at the 2018 World Cup and took over from him after Japan were knocked out by Belgium. Since his appointment he reached the AFC Cup finals but lost to Qatar and has an impressive 67% win rate for Japan (losing only five times in two years). Furthermore he has five managerial trophies and will be looking for his first international one at the World Cup 2022 and AFC Cup 2023

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Author: TUD Author