FOX Sports Asia football editor Gabriel Tan picks his top five performers from Match Day 2 of AFC Cup 2019 ASEAN Zone.
BRUNO MATOS (PERSIJA JAKARTA)
With Marko Simic – Persija’s previous focal point in attack unavailable for selection – plenty of debate emerged on whether his void could be filled by Silvio Escobar.
Highlights – Shan United vs Persija Jakarta
Instead, it was Bruno Matos who stepped up as the match winner in Tuesday’s 3-1 triumph over Shan United despite the Brazilian being deployed in a deeper, attacking midfield role.
Matos, who only joined at the start of this year from Malaysia’s PKNS FC, equalised with a clinical finish after making a clever run through the heart of the opposition defence, and struck again to seal the win with seven minutes remaining.
IRWAN SHAH (TAMPINES ROVERS)
After Hanoi FC put ten goals past Nagaworld on Match Day 1, many were wondering if Tampines Rovers would suffer a similar fate but they instead produced a determined display to claim a 1-1 draw at Jalan Besar Stadium.
Highlights – Tampines Rovers vs Hanoi FC
While the usually-dangerous Nguyen Quang Hai still assisted Pape Omar Faye from a corner, his influence from open play was largely quelled by Irwan Shah.
The 30-year-old seems to be enjoying a new lease of life under the Stags’ rookie coach Gavin Lee and has already netted twice in as many Singapore Premier League games from his position of left wing-back.
BIENVENIDO MARANON (CERES-NEGROS)
With 18 goals to his name in his previous two AFC Cup campaigns, Bienvenido Maranon is no stranger to starring on the continental stage and produced another star turn in Ceres-Negros’ 3-1 victory at Becamex Binh Duong.
AFC Cup 2019: Becamex Binh Duong 0-1 Ceres Negros – Bienvenido Maranon (26′)
The Spaniard showed real guile to open the scoring after opposition goalkeeper Bui Tan Truong assumed a freekick had been awarded for offside and placed the ball down inside the box, allowing his opponent to nip in and poke the ball into the unguarded goal.
Maranon then got the slightest of touches to a Stephan Schrock to restore the visitors’ lead after Binh Duong had equalised, before sealing the win after being set up by OJ Porteria.
ALFRED OSEI (KAYA FC-ILOILO)
There was no shortage of standout performers for Kaya FC-Iloilo as they stunned reigning ASEAN Zone champions Home United with a 5-0 rout at the Panaad Stadium.
AFC Cup 2019: Kaya FC Iloilo 4-0 Home United FC (Alfred Osei 49′)
While Darryl Roberts’ brace and a Jovin Bedic strike had Kaya leading by three goals at the break, Alfred Osei was arguably the best of the lot with an all-action display in the engine room.
Osei was the driving force for a Kaya outfit that overran Home, and also found time to pop up with two goals of his own in the second half.
WILJAN PLUIM (PSM MAKASSAR)
Like Ceres, PSM Makassar recorded an emphatic win on Wednesday as they thrashed Lao Toyota 7-3 and several players put their hand up to be recognised in this week’s Top 5.
AFC Cup 2019: PSM Makassar 1-0 Lao Toyota FC – Wiljan Pluim (12′)
However, Wiljan Pluim was impossible to ignore with a brilliant display as he opened the scoring with a fine finish – his first of two goals – and did as he pleased playing in the hole.
Pluim’s excellent understanding with fellow Dutchman Marc Klok and new signing Eero Markkanen saw them unlock the Lao Toyota defence at will, and PSM are already looming as a genuine threat in the ASEAN Zone.