The Japanese midfield dynamo is definitely up there as one of the best players who will grace the Asian Cup this year. The Milan star has the creativity and power to boss the middle of the park for the Blue Samurai. Honda struggled in his early days at Milan, but from the start of this season has become an integral part of the Rossoneri, who can make things happen going forward, whether its a rifling left footed free-kick or a poacher’s finish.
Like most of the Dortmund side this year, Shinji has struggled. That doesn’t take away from the fact that Kagawa is, technically speaking, as good as it gets. With the ball at his feet Kagawa can do things that not many players are capable of. The attacking midfielder’s vision and flair allow him to create an abundance of chances for himself and his team-mates. Another vital cog for the Blue Samurai.
The third Japanese star on the list. Okazaki is a goal getter. The third all-time top goalscorer for the Blue Samurai with 40 goals, will certainly be in the hunt for the golden boot. While he does have a knack of goalscoring Okazaki is not just a poacher. The tireless Mainz forward has an exceptional work rate to match his ability of sticking the ball in the back of the net.
Since arriving in Germany with Hamburg the South Korean star has really impressed. After a good spell at Hamburg, Leverkusen came calling and rightly so. So far this season Son has banged in 11 goals and has sparked interest from the likes of Spurs, Arsenal and Man United. Son Heung-min certainly knows where the goal is and shows no signs of letting up. If South Korea do well, I would be amazed if Son wasn’t at the heart of it.
Of course, even now at 35 the Socceroos great is the figure head of the team. Cahill’s experience at the top level and knack of scoring important goals means he has to make this list. With 36 goals for his country, Tim Cahill will certainly panic opposition defences in the tournament… especially when crosses are flying into the box.
‘Gucci’ as Reza is commonly known, is definitely one of Iran’s new stars. In his international career Ghoochannejhad has bagged 11 goals from his 19 caps, and has been in sensational recent form for both club and country. Reza netted 6 times in 6 consecutive Asian cup qualifiers to finish as the top scorer of the qualifiers. Gucci has also replicated this sort of form in the 2014/15 season for Al-Kuwait scoring an incredible 11 goals in 10 games.
The Uzbekistan captain has surpassed a century of caps for his country and fully deserves to be a part of this list. Twice named Asian footballer of the year, Djeparov is an all-round midfielder who is as influential for his country’s hopes as one man can possibly be.
‘Amoory’ has been on the cusp of a move to Europe since bursting on to the scene a couple of years ago. The UAE playmaker has stats that match up to the best of them. The UAE assist machine has scored 5 times and set up another 15 goals in his 26 caps, and has a similarly impressive record at club level. When teams like Man City and Arsenal are keeping tabs on a player he must be pretty decent!
Al-Shamrani is certainly a player to watch in the Asian Cup. After the famous altercation with Spiranovic of Western Sydney Wanderers in the 2014 Asian Champions League Final, Nasser is sure to play the part of the villain when he arrives in Australia for the tournament. However, in terms of footballing ability he is right up there with the best. The 2014 Asian Footballer of the Year, has been the Saudi Arabian Premier League top goalscorer five times and will be on the hunt for another goalscoring title in Australia.
Iraq’s teenage star, that will probably be more familiar to Football Manager fans than anyone else. Tariq who currently plays for Al Dhafra is another player who has been touted with a move to Europe, ever since making his Iraqi debut as a 16 year old, and certainly looks to have the technical ability to do so.