There were several players who caught the eye in the recent continental tournament.
The 2021 Men’s Asian Champions Trophy, which was held in Bangladesh, concluded recently after multiple postponements due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
India were strong favourites coming into the tournament but eventually settled for a bronze medal. The final saw South Korea defeat Japan to win their maiden Asian Champions Trophy title. Despite the pandemic situation affecting the preparations, the players showed incredible resilience. Looking back at the tournament and the various individual performances, plenty of figures stood out as the best performers.
Considering the performances of all players, Khel Now has compiled the best XI of the 2021 Men’s Asian Champions Trophy.
Goalkeeper: Suraj Karkera (India)
Indian veteran goalkeeper Sreejesh was not part of the team and Suraj Karkera replaced him in the lineup. The 26-year-old showed immense determination and delivered brilliant performances. Karkera was brilliant in his shot stopping and made numerous last ditch saves to rescue India from dire situations. In fact, a brilliant save against Pakistan in the bronze medal match proved crucial in India’s medal win.
He used the opportunity to play regularly well and eventually received the award for being the Goalkeeper of the Tournament,
Defender: Mubashir Ali (Pakistan)
Pakistan finished fourth and gave a good account of themselves, especially after a long break for their hockey players. One of their best performers was Mubashir Ali. He was very active and read the game beautifully. Moreover, Ali scored two goals in the tournament, showing a lot of promise in the process.
Defender: Harmanpreet Singh (India)
Harmanpreet Singh was the best performer in the Indian team. The defender was lethal with his penalty corners and managed to score eight goals in the tournament. His tally of was the second-best for any individual player in the tournament. He was also India’s top scorer in the tournament. One of the best drag flickers in the world, all his goals came from penalty corners.
In fact, he made India one of the most dangerous teams in the tournament from penalty corner.
Defender: Yoshiki Kirishita (Japan)
Japan managed to reach only their second final in the history of the Asian Champions Trophy. A large credit for this achievement goes to one of their most crucial players, Yoshiki Kirishita. The defender scored three goals in the competition apart from working extremely hard at the back.
He was the one of the architects behind Japan’s incredible run to the finals. In fact, he also picked up the man of the match in a crucial semi-final encounter against India.
Defender: Jarmanpreet Singh (India)
The Indian defence was tough to break down in the group stage, as they conceded just three goals. One of the main reasons behind this was Jarmanpreet Singh . He was excellent in one-on-one tackles, and saved a lot of last ditch goals. Singh also managed to score three goals, including a brace against Bangladesh in a 9-0 thrashing.
Midfielder: Seren Tanaka (Japan)
Seren Tanaka was one of the standout players from the tournament. The captain of the Japanese hockey team was inspirational for the outfit. Seren Tanaka performed consistently and marshalled his troops well. An engine in the midfield, Tanaka played some key passes to the forwards, and also provided a cover when the full-bakcs used forward to score goals.
He was one of the goalscorers in the semi-final where they managed to cause an upset by beating India in the semi-final.
Midfielder: Kim Sung-Hyun (South Korea)
Kim Sung-Hyun was a strong performer as well for South Korea, helping the team to the Asian Champions Trophy title. Primarily a midfielder, the player has the tendency to go forward and score goals. He scored two goals for his team during the tournament. He also provided key passes, especially to forward Jang jong-Hyun, and set up many goals.
Though Jong-Hyun might be described as the man behind South Korea’s triumph, Sung-Hyun was certainly one of the main components of the team.
Midfielder: Akashdeep Singh (India)
Akashdeep was a major positive for India from the Asian Champions Trophy. His movement going forward was a nuisance for every opposition. Akashdeep’s shooting was also a huge asset for India. He scored three goals in the tournament and could have scored way more with better precision. However, his most crucial goal was the winner against Pakistan in the third-place playoff.
Forward: Arfaz Hakeem (Pakistan)
Fans expected key names like Omar Bhutta to come out as Pakistan’s key man at the Asian Champions Trophy. But it was a relatively unknown name who rose to the occasion. He finished with four goals to his name, thus emerging as Pakistan’s top scorer in the Asian Champions Trophy. Apart from scoring goals, he also left a good impression with his overall performance.
Forward: Jang Jong-Hyun (South Korea)
South Korea’s win at the Asian Champions Trophy came on the back of Jang Jong-Hyun’s outstanding performances. The forward was consistent throughout the tournament and managed 10 goals for the team. He scored in all of the games South Korea played. The leading goalscorer of the tounament, he scored four goals in the semi-final against Pakistan and a brace against Japan in the final.
Forward: Kenta Tanaka (Japan)
Kenta Tanaka of Japan was undoubtedly the best performer in the tournament. His display at the Asian Champions Trophy also helped him clinch the Player of the Tournament award. Tanaka was very influential for the outfit and scored two goals as well.
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