FOX Sports Asia football editor Gabriel Tan gives his best AFC Asian Cup 2019 fantasy tips ahead of Match Day 3 of the group stage.
Match Day 2 of the AFC Asian Cup was highlighted by standout displays from Qatar’s Almoez Ali and Akram Afif, while the goalkeepers and defenders were also handy contributors will all 12 winning teams recording clean sheets.
The final round of group stage matches kicks off on Monday and – as it is likely to be the last time there will be emphatic victories – it is shaping up as the perfect time to use the “Bench Boost”, where all 11 starters and four substitutes contribute to your round’s score.
Again, managers have one free transfer to use but – given unlimited changes will be allowed between the end of group stage and the start of the knockout round – it could be savvy to wait just awhile more to make big changes.
With the way the fixtures have been arranged, the conundrum this week is whether or not to keep faith in the big guns who will face strong opponents (e.g. Iran’s Sardar Azmoun v Iraq) or go with a less-heralded option who is coming up against perceived weaker opposition (e.g. Javier Patino of Philippines v Kyrgyz Republic).
Without further delay, here is FOX Sports Asia football editor Gabriel Tan’s “Fantasy Watch” ahead of Match Day 3.
There was no shortage of goalkeepers picking up a healthy tally with 12 in total notching between six to seven points, with the best value coming in the form of Thailand’s Siwarak Tedsungnoen ($4.5m).
Considering Yemen and DPR Korea are both yet to score a goal and have conceded heavily (eight and ten goals respectively), picking custodians from either of their opponents – Vietnam and Lebanon – could mean a guaranteed clean sheet.
However, looking at the long-term picture, both Iran and Korea Republic have looked steady at the back and Kim Seung-gyu and Alireza Beiranvand could be worth looking at for the remainder of the tournament, especially if your current goalkeeper has not quite performed up to expectations.
Gabe Tan’s recommended free transfer: Dang Van Lam. VIETNAM v Yemen ($4.5m, 4 points in total)
Defenders continued to find the back of the day in Match Day 2 with Kim Min-jae, Tareq Khattab (both 12 points) and Abdelkarim Hassan (11 points) all on target, while Hong Chul and Ali Adnan both grabbed an assist to go with their clean sheet for a neat tally of nine points.
Similar to the goalkeepers, players from the likes of Vietnam, Lebanon and Jordan could be a savvy choice for an easy six points considering how impotent their upcoming opponents have been in attack.
But for a high-scoring defender who should feature deep into the tournament, Korea Republic’s Kim Min-jae looks excellent value especially as his current price of $4.5m will only increase before the start of the knockout round.
Gabe Tan’s recommended free transfer: Kim Min-jae, KOREA REPUBLIC v China ($4.5m, 18 points in total)
After Mehdi Taremi’s two-goal and one-assist heroics in the opening round, no midfielder reached the same heights on this occasion but Genki Haraguchi led the way (10 points) after playing the entire match, as well as winning and converting a penalty.
The midfielders have been handy contributors so far in the tournament but the last round of fixtures does make things slightly tricky.
Then, of course, there is the arrival of Son Heung-min – the most expensive player in fantasy at $11.5m – who should slot straight into the Taegeuk Warriors’ starting XI in a tricky game against China PR.
I will be waiting for the unlimited transfers after the group stage to get him into my team, but could just rue that decision if he makes an immediate impact.
Gabe Tan’s recommended free transfers: Yousef Al-Rawashdeh, Palestine v JORDAN ($6.5m, 7 points in total)
Credit to those who put their faith in Qatar’s Almoez Ali and were handsomely rewarded with his 21-point display, although team-mate Akram Afif didn’t do too badly himself with four assists (14 points).
Uzbekistan’s Eldor Shorumodov and Wu Lei of China PR also shone with ten points apiece but face tough ties against Japan and Korea Republic respectively.
Lebanon’s five forwards have combined for a paltry three points but are promising to have a field day against a DPR Korea side that have woeful, but I have a sneaky feeling someone from Australia will shine against Syria as well.
Gabe Tan’s recommended free transfer: Hilal El-Helwe, LEBANON v DPR Korea ($7.0m, 3 points in total)