Aymen Hussein, Akram Afif headline AFC Asian Cup 2023 Team of Group Stage
These 11 players were the best for their teams and made a significant mark in the AFC Asian Cup 2023.
The AFC Asian Cup 2023 has entered a brief hiatus following the conclusion of the group stage matches on January 25. Out of the 24 teams distributed across six groups, 16 teams have advanced to the next round of the tournament, scheduled to begin on January 28.
In the group stage matches, several contests witnessed noteworthy challenges from both teams. Additionally, certain players excelled individually, leading their teams to pivotal victories.
In this article, we will take a look at the players who made it to Khel Now’s XI, based on their performance in the group stage matches.
Goalkeeper: Saranon Anuin (Thailand)
Saranon Anuin did not play the first two matches of the tournament. He was provided with the opportunity to demonstrate his abilities against a formidable opponent in the group, Saudi Arabia. The match concluded in a draw, with neither side scoring any goals. Saranon exhibited exemplary performance by saving seven shots, thereby bolstering his team’s morale as they advanced to the knockout stage.
Right-back: Shahrul Saad (Malaysia)
Although Malaysia were eliminated from the tournament after finishing fourth in their group, the performance of Shahrul Saad has been lauded. As a right-back, he made numerous clearances throughout the tournament, placing him at the top of the list in this category.
Centre-back: Kim Min-jae (South Korea)
Kim Min-jae played a crucial role as a consistent performer at the back for South Korea, contributing to their second-place finish in the group stage campaign. Particularly noteworthy is Kim’s remarkable achievement of completing 238 passes with 92.2% accuracy, a phenomenal statistic that truly exemplifies his performance for the team.
Centre-back: Ali Al-Bulayhi (Saudi Arabia)
With a pass accuracy of 95.5% in the three games, Al-Bulayhi emerged as a pivotal figure in Saudi Arabia’s defensive line during the group stage, contributing significantly to their first-place finish in the points table. Furthermore, the team only conceded a single goal across the three matches.
Left-back: Bader Albaelaziz (UAE)
The left-back of the United Arab Emirates delivered outstanding performances in the group stage. His defensive abilities were on full display, evidenced by the 19 crucial clearances he made on the field. He is expected to play a significant role for the UAE in the upcoming knockout stages.
Right Winger: Mehdi Taremi (Iran)
Mehdi Taremi, representing Iran, exhibited significant influence. In addition to providing crucial support in the frontline, he successfully blocked five pivotal shots, contributing to Iran’s dominance in all their matches.
Central Midfielder: Otabek Shukurov (Uzbekistan)
During Uzbekistan’s three group stage games, Otabek Shukurov played a crucial role, emerging as a standout performer. The young talent notched up an assist and made a significant impact in defense, tallying six crucial blocks during his time on the pitch.
Attacking Midfielder: Almoez Ali (Qatar)
With two assists and one goal in three games, Almoez Ali has once again demonstrated his significance as a key player in the Qatar squad. He is on the cusp of becoming the second top goal-scorer in the history of the AFC Asian Cup if he secures another goal in the remaining matches this year.
Central Midfielder: Jackson Irvine (Australia)
Jackson Irvine has demonstrated remarkable form throughout the current tournament. In addition to his consistent on-field performances in attack, he has proven to be resolute in defense, tallying six crucial blocks. Furthermore, he has contributed two goals to his team’s success in the competition.
Left Winger: Akram Afif (Qatar)
Qatar’s wing-forward Akram Afif has earned his place on the list due to his outstanding performance in all three matches. He has not only scored three goals in the tournament so far, but has also provided an assist.
Striker: Aymen Hussein (Iraq)
The top goal-scorer of the tournament, not limited to Iraq, undoubtedly holds a central position in the group stage team due to his impressive performance. Up to this point, he has netted five goals in the tournament. He secured two goals against both Japan and Vietnam, and one against Indonesia during the group stage fixture.
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