As the group stage of AFC Cup 2019 ASEAN Zone comes to a close, FOX Sports Asia football editor Gabriel Tan picks the six of the best performers from Match Day 6.
1) ABDIL QAIYYIM (HOME UNITED)
Home United, last year’s ASEAN Zone champions, ultimately failed in their bid to reach the knockout round but they at least signed off on a high as they claimed a 2-0 triumph over Kaya FC-Iloilo on Tuesday.
AFC Cup 2019: Home United 2-0 Kaya FC (Abdil Qaiyyim 18′)
For the second time in the campaign, Protectors centre-back Abdil Qaiyyim ventured forward to excellent effort as he turned home an Izzdin Shafiq freekick to double his side’s lead after Adam Swandi had given them a first-minute lead.
But when it came to his primary responsibility, Qaiyyim did an excellent job of keeping Jordan Mintah quiet as Home nullified a Kaya side that had headed into the game having scored an impressive 13 goals in five matches.
2) BAYU GATRA (PSM MAKASSAR)
Qualification for the zonal semi-finals may have had been secured prior to Tuesday, but that did not stop PSM Makassar from putting in a professional display as they comfortably breezed past Lao Toyota 3-0.
Rasyid Bakri, Saldi and Guy Junior may have been the scorers, but it was Bayu Gatra who emerged as the creator-in-chief in a sparkling display.
AFC Cup 2019: Lao Toyota 0-1 PSM Makassar (Rasyid Bakri 43′)
He laid on PSM’s opener two minutes before the break when he broke free down the right and played a perfect cut-back into the path of Rasyid, before another enterprising run-and-pass led to Saldi making it 2-0 in the 74th minute.
3) PHAM DUC HUY (HANOI FC)
Needing to beat Tampines Rovers in order to guarantee their place in the zonal semi-finals, Hanoi FC did as they claimed a 2-0 win at the Hang Day Stadium.
While the goals were scored by Ganiyu Oseni and Nguyen Thanh Chung, it was Pham Duc Huy who set the tone with a typically industrious performance in defensive midfield, snapping into challenges and getting his side quickly on the front foot with his tidy distribution.
AFC Cup 2019: Hanoi FC 2-0 Tampines Rovers – Nguyen Thanh Chung (31′)
It was a corner from Duc Huy that was headed home by Thanh Chung for Hanoi’s second and when Pham Thanh Luong was substituted in the second half, it was fitting that Duc Huy took over the captain’s armband.
4) MAUNG MAUNG LWIN (YANGON UNITED)
Having reached the ASEAN Zone semi-finals last year, 2019 has been a disappointing campaign for Yangon United but Maung Maung Lwin has proven to be a bright spark throughout.
The fleet-footed winger can lay claim to arguably being his team’s best player right now and he has also added a consistency to his game that should see him catch the eye of many a club around the region.
Highlights – Yangon United vs Nagaworld
And, after Yangon initially struggled to break down Nagaworld on Wednesday, Maung Maung Lwin finally provided a 75th-minute breakthrough with a 20-yard drive to ensure they would end their campaign with a second win at the very least.
5) ROLAND MULLER (CERES-NEGROS)
In the end, there was no perfect group-stage campaign for Ceres-Negros as they were beaten 1-0 by Becamex Binh Duong, a result which also proved decisive in their opponents reaching the knockout round.
Highlights – Ceres Negros vs Becamex Binh Duong
However, were it not for Roland Muller in the Busmen goal, Binh Duong might have claimed the won earlier, and by a far bigger margin.
The German-born Philippines international produced a string of fine saves and cannot really be faulted for getting lobbed from 40 yards for Wander Luiz’s winner, as his side had been in possession before it was sloppily given away by Joshua Dutosme leading to Muller being caught out.
6) BRUNO MATOS (PERSIJA JAKARTA)
In the wake of Persija Jakarta’s early elimination from the AFC Cup, Bruno Matos had offered to resign after feeling responsible for missing a crucial penalty but, in truth, they could ill afford to be without a player of his ilk with the 2019 Liga 1 campaign starting this week.
AFC Cup 2019: Persija Jakarta 1-0 Shan United – Bruno Matos (6′)
From the time he opened the scoring in Wednesday’s 6-1 rout of Shan United with an audacious freekick from the right that caught opposition goalkeeper Phone Thitsar Min out of position, he was absolutely unplayable.
Having been involved in subsequent strikes by Novri Setiawan and Heri Susanto, Matos would net again twice beyond the 90th minute to complete his hat-trick in an emphatic win.