Best XI: AFC Cup East Zone

The AFC Cup round of 16 ties wrapped up in the East Zone last night after two days of hard-fought contests. We’ve picked the best XI from this round of the competition.

Goalkeeper: Izwan Mahbud (Tampines Rovers, Singapore)

The Stags goalkeeper put in a commanding display in Tuesday’s AFC Cup fixture against Mohun Bagan in India. Mahbud has established himself as the best goalkeeper in Southeast Asia, if not Asia.

Right Back: Kunanlan Subramaniam (Johor Darul Ta’zim F.C., Malaysia)
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The converted winger bombed up and down the right for JDT in their high-scoring fixture against Kaya F.C., quickly eliminating the Filipino side’s minimal attacks on goal.

Centre Back: Marcos António (Johor Darul Ta’zim F.C., Brazil)

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Solid and strong as per usual, almost nothing got back JDT’s stalwart centre back.

Centre Back: Aly Borromeo (Kaya F.C., USA/Philippines)
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Despite conceding seven goals on Wednesday, Borromeo exhibited exemplary leadership in ensuring his side kept trying for goal until the final whistle.

Left Back: Muhammad Fazly Mazlan (Johor Darul Ta’zim F.C., Malaysia)
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Another JDT addition to the Best XI, the 22-year-old was determined and quick on the counter, contributing to Lucero’s second in the 54th minute.

Central Midfield: Hariss Harun (Johor Darul Ta’zim F.C., Singapore)
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“It’s a great pleasure to be in this team,” Harun told reporters after JDT’s 7-2 demolition job of Kaya. The central midfielder looked like he was having the time of his life, sitting just behind and working of the forwards’ movement.

Central Midfield: Manuel Ott (Ceres-La Salle, Philippines)
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Ceres’s elimination from the competition will be welcome news to the remaining quarter-finalists as none of them would want to have the hardened Munich-born midfielder. Holding off the South China attack until the 107th minute, it was an unlucky blow for a solid Ott and the Filipino side.

Left Wing: Juan Martín Lucero (Johor Darul Ta’zim F.C., Argentina)
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A hat-trick and an instant spot in the Best XI; the Argentine was on fire on Wednesday with a curling free kick, converting a cutback and smashing in a third from a tight angle.

Attacking Midfield: Rufino (Kitchee SC, Spain)
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Despite getting knocked out by Bengaluru FC, Kitchee’s man up top was running a one-man show. Nodding in Lo Kwan Yee’s cross in the opening five minutes, the Spaniard now has six goals to his name in the last seven matches.

Right Wing: Jermaine Pennant (Tampines Rovers, England)
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The former Liverpool winger has been outstanding in his short spell with Tampines Rovers. A constant threat for the duration of the match, Pennant set up Afiq Yunos’s 118 minute winner to send the Singaporean side through the last eight.

Forward: Adrian Gallardo (Ceres-La Salle, Spain)
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Put in a shot after shot, but to no avail for Ceres in their encounter. After some classic, old-fashioned striker performances in the group stages, Gallardo will be sorely missed from the next stage of the competition.

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