FOX Sports Asia football editor Gabriel Tan gives his best AFC Asian Cup 2019 fantasy tips ahead of Match Day 2 of the group stage.
With one round of matches completed at AFC Asian Cup 2019, plenty of fantasy heroes have emerged in United Arab Emirates.
With two goals and one assist, Iran’s Mehdi Taremi was the highest-scoring player with 16 points and 21.9 per cent of fantasy managers would have been laughing their way to the bank, especially if they had given him the captain’s armband.
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Unsurprisingly, the three defenders who managed to get on the scoresheet – Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed Al-Fatil, Qatari starlet Bassam Al-Rawi and Anas Bani Yaseen of Iran – were the next best performers with 12 points each.
Managers will get one free transfer between Match Days 1 and 2 but can make more changes to their team, at the cost of four points per additional switch.
For those looking to switch things up in a particular position, or in the event you are tempted to make wholesale changes to your side, here are FOX Sports Asia football editor Gabriel Tan’s top picks.
Apologies to anyone who went with my pre-tournament “must-buy” in Jo Hyeon-woo, with Kim Seung-gyu preferred to him in the Korea Republic goal and going on to keep a clean sheet.
The two highest-scoring goalkeepers from the round were Jordan’s Amer Shafi (8 points) and Palestine’s Rami Hamadeh (7 points), but – while they certainly face the prospects of making numerous saves in a game – there is also a chance that they could concede quite a few.
For those who like a bit of a risk, either one – along with Philippines’ Michael Falkesgaard – could be an interesting option, but a conservative bet can be found in Iran’s Alireza Beiranvand or Australia’s Mathew Ryan.
Gabe Tan’s recommended free transfer: Michael Falkesgaard, PHILIPPINES v China ($4.5m, 3 points)
As previously mentioned, Anas, Bassam Al-Fatil scored well with 12 points apiece, while the Iran duo of Morteza Pouraliganji (8 points) and Ramin Rezaeian (7 points) also rewarded those who had put faith in them.
Picking defenders who are likely to keep clean sheets is always fairly straightforward, but choosing those who can add value with assists and goals is obviously the bigger gamble.
While Thailand might have been a resounding disappointment against India, I am still tempted to stick with Theerathon Bunmathan given his set-piece prowess although Iraq’s 90th-minute freekick-scoring hero Ali Adnan is a temptation, while Korea Republic stand-in captain Kim Young-gwon is a safe bet.
Gabe Tan’s recommended free transfer: Morteza Pouraliganji, Vietnam v IRAN ($4.5m, 9 points)
I did hint that Taremi would be a good option and my only regret is that I did not choose him as my captain, having toyed with the idea but ultimately sticking with Sardar Azmoun.
With two assists, Abdulaziz Al-Bishi of Saudi Arabia was the next highest-scoring midfielder on nine points, while his compatriots Hattan Bahebri and Salem Al-Dawsari both also hit the scoresheet.
With the Saudi Arabians lacking a genuine striker, their midfielders could continue to chip in with goals although there is a tough test awaiting them on Match Day 3 in the form of Qatar.
Gabe Tan’s recommended free transfer: Salem Al-Dawsari, Lebanon v SAUDI ARABIA ($8.0m, 7 points)
Another apology is due for those who heeded my advice with Ali Mabkhout, although – unlike Jo – there was at least a consolation two points on offer.
Yuya Osako emerged as the star forward of the round picking up ten points with his two goals and will prove hard to resist if you do not already have him, although – as previously mentioned – rotation is usually on the cards for Japan and Yoshinori Muto could just be given a chance in their next outing.
Like Osako, Sunil Chhetri was also a two-goal, ten-point hero but it remains to be seen if India can cause two upsets in a row, especially coming up against hosts United Arab Emirates looking for their first win.
But, having been given the nod ahead of Ji Dong-won and with Kyrgyz Republic lying in wait, Hwang Ui-jo could just be your guy if you are looking to change things up in attack.
Gabe Tan’s recommended free transfer: Hwang Ui-jo, Kyrgyz Republic v KOREA REPUBLIC ($9.0m, 6 points)