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)
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)
Solid and strong as per usual, almost nothing got back JDT’s stalwart centre back.
Centre Back: Aly Borromeo (Kaya F.C., USA/Philippines)
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)
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)
“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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.