AFC Champions League 2016-17: Team of the Season Revealed
The Asian Football Confederation announced on Monday AFC’s Champions League team of the season. The AFC was won by Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds, yet none of their players were nominated for the Champions League team of the season.
The Team of the Season consists of 4 players from Al Hilal, who lost in the finals, but not a single one from the Champions Urawa Red Diamonds.
Yasser Al Mosailem-
The 33 year old shot stopper from Saudi Arabia was in his dream form this season. Despite of having so many leaks in the Al Ahli defense, his amazing performances managed to keep the ball out so many times. Al Ahli conceded only seven goals in the group stage, to go on to face Al Ahli(UAE) in the first knockout stage. They conceded 2 goals to the rivals before losing out to Persepolis by a aggregate of 5-3 in the Quarter Finals. Although, his team did not qualify for the semis, his amazing performance and the number of saves made, earned him the Golden Gloves.
Mohammed Al Burayk-
The 25 year old right back from Saudi Arabia was no doubt the best full back this season in AFC Champions League. He made 47 interceptions including 12 in the finals. Not just defending, he was even involved in 5 goals, with 2 assists and 3 pre assists. His performance satisfied their Argentine coach Ramon Diaz so much that, he said “We don’t need any other player in our right half. Al Burayk works as the Dani Alves of ours.”
The Dalian-born defender is 32 years old, but his performance hasn’t allowed to mark a spot in his gameplay. He is no doubt the best right centre back this season. The 6’1.5″ has an amazing tactical advantage over his opponents. They went up to the quarter finals before losing to domestic rivals Shanghai SIPG in penalties. He was awarded 2 man of the match awards in ACL during Guangzhou Evergrande’s run upto the quarters.
The 33 year old left footed centre back from Mecca was one of the main reasons why Al Hilal played the AFC Champions League finals. His fearless and clinical defending were a threat to opponent strikers. He made 43 interceptions excluding the ones in the finals against Urawa Red Diamonds. He was involved in 2 goals for Al Hilal in the ACL.
Probably the best left back in Asia right now, Mahini is one of the best side backs in the world. Not just defending, this left back can dash forward and assist too. He is the fastest player of Persepolis right now. He had 3 assists and 1 pre-assist in the AFC Champions League. He lost out his spot in the Irani national team in 2015-16, but will look froward to take it back by putting his name up in the ACL Team of the Season.
Considered as the best playmaker in Asia by many, Omar was awarded Asia’s best player last season. He is considered to be even better than Shinji Kagawa and Son Heung-min in playmaking. Playing as a right back, he scores goals more often than forwards. He was voted second in Asia’s Player of the Season 2017. The 26 year old winger from Riyadh captained Al AIn FC and lead them to the quarter finals this season.
José Paulo Bezerra Maciel Júnior-
The only player in the 21st century to have played AFC Champions League and UEFA Champions League in the same season, Paulinho-the 29 year old centre midfielder was one of the best in business when it came to the CSL side Guangzhou Evergrande. He was the main playmaker of the team as well as one of the main goalscorers too, before FC Barcelona swooped him away by a €40 million transfer fee. He scored 5 goals and assisted 4 times before moving to the Spanish side.
Carlos Eduardo Oliveira Alves-
The second highest goal scorer for Al Hilal this season in ACL, Carlos Eduardo was considered to be the best foreigner in ACL 2016-17. He scored 7 goals and assisted another 7 for the Saudi club in the top division of the Continental competition. The 28 year old Brazilian from Sao Paulo covered an average of 10.36 kilometers in the Champions League. He was present in the defense when the opponent was attacking, as well as in the attack when they had ball possession. He was unfortunate not to be awarded ACL’s best player this season.
The best left winger in the business, the 28-year old Brazilian was an amazing addition to the Evergrande team in the Chinese Super League as well as the AFC Champions League. He not only assists, but also scores more than many forwards. He was the top scorer for his team in ACL with 7 goals and none from the penalty spot. He also assisted thrice in the meantime. He is an amazing prospect and awaiting for the National Team’s call.
Voted to be Asia’s best player this season, the Saudi did wonders for Al Hilal in the Saudi Professional League as well as the AFC Champions League, as well as for the Syrian National Team in the World Cup qualifiers. He is the top scorer in Asia this season with 22 goals in the domestic league, 2 behind his national team partner Omar Al Somah, and 10 goals in the AFC Champions League. Not considering his goals for Syria this season, he is no doubt the best Asian player this season.
Considered to be the strongest footballers of all times by many, Hulk can do wonders. The 31 year old from Campina Grande, left Zenit Saint-Petersburg in 2016 for Shanghai SIPG. He has scored 28 goals in 47 appearances till then. Although a central midfielder, Hulk is used as a striker by Luiz Felipe Scolari. He has scored 9 goals for Shanghai in the ACL this season and is the second highest goal scorer with one goal behind Omar Khribin.