Thursday, July 19, 2007

Asian Cup - Team of the Group Stage

NOW that the group stage is over, it’s time to cast an eye over the players that captured the imagination of Asia. Gotta say, it hasn’t been the easiest job given the quality we’ve seen in a tournament which has so far exceeded expectations. The thing is, quality was expected from the likes of Japan, Iran, South Korea, the Saudi’s and our own Socceroos, some of whom have been patchy at times, but it has been the performances from the so-called lesser-lights, the likes of Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia that have made an impression. Even the middle tier teams, the likes Iraq, Uzbekistan, Oman and China have caught the imagination, with some accomplished performers, so here is TRBA’s team of the group stages;

------------------Hong Son----------------------
---Teymourian-------------Minh Phong-------
------------Soria-------Al Qahtani----------------

Duong Hong Son, goalkeeper (Vietnam); caught out a little bit by Japan’s quality crosses and finishing on matchday 3, but his work up until then was outstanding. Brave and decisive, his early save against the UAE on md1, sharp down to his left, changed the game, while his work against Qatar was courageous. As responsible as anyone for getting Vietnam through to the quarter finals ahead of Qatar and the UAE, a massive achievement for such a small football nation.

Suree Sukha, right back (Thailand); along with Nashat Akram, perhaps the player of the tournament to date. It is a pity we will not be seeing him in the knock-outs. As in my report of the Socceroos/Thailand game, this bloke reminds me of Sevilla’s Dani Alves, a pocket dynamo that never stops running. His delivery was excellent in the main, and he rarely got caught out defensively. Dynamite. Hope to see him again.....soon.

Maman Abdurachman, central defender (Indonesia); not much of him, but along with his central defensive partner Charis Yulianto, defended with courage and conviction in all three games. When he got on the ball, he generally provided delightful service out of defence, allowing Indonesia to play their dynamic counter-attacking game.

Kiatpruwut Saiweao, central defender (Thailand); Have you ever seen a more relaxed and composed defender? Forget the hustle and bustle of modern football, this bloke plays the game at his own pace, controlling everything with his subtle left peg, a delight to watch. Was exposed in the air for the goal by Michael Beauchamp, but look what happened to Thailand’s defence when he limped off injured.

Ferydoon Zandi, left back (Iran); perhaps the hardest position to choose given the number of quality performers in this area. Indoensia’s Muhammed Ridwan proved why he is keeping Persik Kediri’s Erol Iba on the bench with some excellent displays, the mop-haired Uzbek Vitaliy Denisov has been full of energy, Yuichi Komano has provided wonderful width for Japan while Iraq’s Bassim Abbas of Lebanese club Al-Nejmeh has looked solid. But Zandi looks great coming forward, and he can deliver the ball.

Nashat Akram, defensive central midfield (Iraq); caught the eye in the first half of the first match of the tournament with a commanding display, both as a ball winner and ball user. Was even better against the Socceroos, scoring one, laying on another and combining beautifully with the likes of Younis Mahmoud and Hawar Mulla Mohammed. Imposing and elegant on the ball.

Andranik Teymourian, right midfield (Iran); does not stop. Incredible workrate, and while most of his teammates have struggled for composure in the front third, Teymourian has looked relaxed. Has been Iran’s best along with Javad Nekonam and gets in here ahead of Thailand’s Daksakorn Thonglao. Expect even more from the Bolton midfielder in the knock-outs.

Nguyen Minh Phong, left midfield (Vietnam); like Thailand’s Saiweao, plays the game at his own pace, having this amazing ability to always find space. Has been playing more on the right, getting the ball to feet, taking his time and picking out a pass. Created both goals in their crucial opening win over UAE.

Yasuhito Endo, attacking central midfield (Japan); while much of the pre-tournament focus was on big name Shunsuke Nakamura, it has been Japan’s other creative influence, Endo, who has really stood out. Technically brilliant and mobile, he has featured prominently in all the good work Japan has been doing down the left, combing beautifully with Komano, the two Nakamura’s and Takahara. Not a noted goal-getter, he scored a beauty from dead-ball on md3 and gets in ahead of Uzbek's impressive driving midfielder Timur Kapadze.

Sebastien Soria, striker (Qatar); the Uruguayan, left on his own up front, worked his socks off in all three games and was rewarded with all three Qatari goals, scoring two crucial late equalisers against Japan and Vietnam. Pity he didn't have much support.

Yasser Al Qahtani, striker (Saudi Arabia); built low to the ground, he demonstrated a remarkable leap to power a header home against Indonesia. Powerful and skilful, he is often found dropping deep to pick up the ball, either to run past defenders or link up with likes of Malek and his namesake Abdulrahman Al Qahtani. Has been involved in most of the Saudi’s best moments.

Others that have caught they eye

Indonesia; Elie Aiboy, Muhammed Ridwan, Budi Sudarsono, Firman Utina, Markus Horison
Korea; Lee Chun-soo, Kim Jung-woo
Iran; Javed Nekonam, Ali Karimi, Javed Kazemian
Thailand; Datsakorn Thonglao, Kiatisuk Senamuang, Suchao Nutnum, Pipat Thonkanya
Iraq; Hawar Mulla Mohammed, Younis Mahmoud
Oman; Mohamed Rabia, Ahmed ‘Kanu’ Mubarak
Japan; Kengo Nakamuta, Shunsuke Nakamura, Naohiro Takahara, Seiichiro Maki, Keita Suzuki
UAE; Ismail Matar
Australia; Mark Milligan
China; Han Peng, Zheng Zhi
Uzbekistan; Vitaliy Denisov, Server Djeparov, Timur Kapadze, Maksim Shatskikh
Malaysia; Sukhor Adan
Saudi Arabia; Abdulrahman Al Qahtani, Malek Maaz


Blogger john said...

Fantastic stuff Tony.

If some of these guys came to the A-League would they be outstanding? Could we afford them? Would the fans recognise them?

We have so under-estimated football in our part of the world.

Perhaps world rankings reflect an historic lack of exposure to top coaches and top competition.

Luckiest team in the next round - Korea.

Thu. Jul. 19, 06:50:00 pm AEST  
Anonymous Pinuts Pethia said...

I would have liked to have seen one of Borat's neighbours (Uzbeks)in your eleven. But I won't argue with the players you have chosen.

I agree, that A-league coaches should be looking at signing players in this competition, instead of English pensioners looking for a holiday.

Fri. Jul. 20, 09:38:00 am AEST  
Blogger The Round Ball Analyst said...

....Fantastic stuff Tony....

Thanks John, glad you enjoyed, I've really enjoyed watching it and learning about all the Asian players, tactics and styles...

....If some of these guys came to the A-League would they be outstanding? Could we afford them? Would the fans recognise them?...

I would love to see it John, as I noted in my comment to Frank Lopez in an earlier post. I remember when I first laid eyes on Bader Al Mutwa of Kuwait last year - he ran rings around Micheal Valkanis - I thought it would be great to see his likes in Oz.

Whether we can compete financially, I'm not so sure. I know the Qatari league for example is flush with funds. But I'm sure we might be able to entice at least a couple of players.

Whether we have the expertise among the A-League clubs to identify the right players and entice them, I'm not so sure.

....We have so under-estimated football in our part of the world....

I think we have to some extent, but it seems we also drew a fairly comfortable qualification group...with Lebanon forced out and only 4 games against Bahrain and Kuwait, we qualified fairly comfortably. Perhaps it gave us a false sense of security.

...Luckiest team in the next round - Korea....

Have to disagree with you on that one John. I think that crown goes to us. I actually thought the Koreans really cranked it up in the second half against Indonesia...they pressed them and controlled the second half and could have racked up a cricket score with better finishing (and the Indo keeper Horison had a blinder)...we shall see if they take that 2nd half display into the quarters, for I thought it was pretty decent.

Fri. Jul. 20, 09:50:00 am AEST  
Blogger The Round Ball Analyst said...

....I would have liked to have seen one of Borat's neighbours (Uzbeks)in your eleven. But I won't argue with the players you have chosen....

Pinuts, I know the Uzbeks were your outside tip - hope you got on them at @ $26? - and I've really been impressed with their two midfielders, Djeparov (the skipper) and Tavadze, and their back four has looked solid, except in the 2nd half against Iran.

Fri. Jul. 20, 10:16:00 am AEST  
Blogger The Round Ball Analyst said...

....and Tavadze....

sorry, meant Kapadze.

Fri. Jul. 20, 10:34:00 am AEST  
Anonymous wayne said...

I have loved the way some lesser fancied teams have played out of their skins against more fancied sides. The best thing about underestimating all this football "just over the fence" is the revelatory nature of its range, quality and style - we now have genuine challenge and opportunity, even the possibility of symbiosis.

Fri. Jul. 20, 01:42:00 pm AEST  
Blogger The Round Ball Analyst said...

...even the possibility of symbiosis...

wouldnt that be nice Wayne.

Fri. Jul. 20, 02:29:00 pm AEST  
Anonymous borat said...

Great read but I would had Kapadze in there.

Sat. Jul. 21, 09:36:00 am AEST  

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