AFC Cup ASEAN Zone Match Day 3: The Top 5

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

FOX Sports Asia football editor Gabriel Tan picks out the five top performers from the latest round of 2018 AFC Cup action in the ASEAN Zone.

As the AFC Cup reaches its halfway stage in the ASEAN Zone, the three groups are starting to take shape as 12 Southeast Asian contenders jostle for four knockout round spots.

Yangon United have been the most dominant side thus far and are firm favourites to advance from Group G following Wednesday’s 3-0 win over Global Cebu, which leaves them five points ahead of Bali United, who beat FLC Thanh Hoa 3-1.

Ceres-Negros currently lead the way in Group F as they defeated Shan United 2-0 to get back to winning ways, while Home United missed the chance to keep pace with the leaders as they fell to a shock 3-2 loss at Boeung Ket.

Finally, two 0-0 draws in Group H means Song Lam Nghe An are still top of the table with seven points, three ahead of Johor Darul Ta’zim and Persija Jakarta while Tampines Rovers remain bottom with a solitary point.

Here, FOX Sports Asia picks the five standout players from Match Day 3 of the AFC Cup ASEAN Zone.

Mike Ott (Ceres-Negros)

Having been crowned the inaugural ASEAN Zone champions of the AFC Cup last year, Ceres-Negros are once again looming as genuine contenders.

While they may have lost a couple of key players, the departure of the excellent Iain Ramsay – in particular – has been offset by the arrival of Philippines international Mike Ott.

The 23-year-old arrived with experience playing for the second teams of German clubs 1860 Munich and Nurnberg, as well as in Thailand with Angthong.

His skill, intelligence and all-round attacking threat were on full display as he laid on two assists to inspire Ceres to victory on Tuesday.

Maycon Calijuri (Boeung Ket)

Cambodia’s Boeung Ket finally picked up their first points of the campaign at the third time of asking and they largely have the effervescent Maycon Calijuri to thank for that.

Deployed in a withdrawn position, the one-time top scorer in the Belarusian Premier League was his side’s creator-in-chief but still found the time to net two decisive goals.

The first was a clever finish on his non-preferred right foot, before he kept his cool from the penalty spot to score what ultimately proved to be the match winner.

Shahril Ishak (Home United)

From the same game, the Protectors may have ended on the losing end but one player that emerged with plenty of credit was Singapore captain Shahril Ishak.

After being away for seven years, the 34-year-old’s return to Home was greeted with plenty of excitement and he continues to show he still has plenty to offer.

Relishing in his role as a “False 9”, Shahril is afforded the freedom to deal damage with his hold-up play and visionary passing and – with two assists – did his best to try and save his side from an embarrassing loss.

Maung Maung Lwin (Yangon United)

Sekou Sylla was the two-goal hero for Yangon as they claimed a third consecutive win, but they were sent on their way by an exquisite freekick from Maung Maung Lwin, which even David Beckham would have been proud of.

Global keeper Patrick Deyto – who was in the Top 5 just last week – was left completely stranded as the 25-yard curler swerved around his defensive wall and nestled into the bottom corner.

Maung Maung Lwin, who was a constant threat down the right until he was replaced in injury-time, also assisted Sylla’s first goal with an instinctive looping delivery into the six-yard box.

Nick van der Velden (Bali United)

Bali showed excellent spirit to come from behind and beat Thanh Hoa on Wednesday and, while it was Yabes Roni, Demerson and Stefano Lilipaly who got the goals, Dutchman Nick van der Velden was a catalyst in their revival.

Despite his primary job being to shield his defence, the 36-year-old is always ready to make things happen going forward.

A searching 35-yard pass from Van der Velden lead to Yabes’ equaliser, before an equally visionary ball was perfectly weighted over the Thanh Hoa defence for Lilipaly to run onto and score the sealer.