Quang Hai to shine in 2019 Asian Cup

Wednesday, 2018-09-05 07:40:16
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Vietnam’s playmaker Quang Hai has been identified as the promising star of the 2019 Asian Cup.
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NDO/AFC - Following the success of the U23 Asian Championships earlier this year and the historic run at the recent Asian Games in Indonesia, midfielder Nguyen Quang Hai and the Vietnam national Olympic team are receiving a lot of attention from the professionals and home fans excited for the next success in the future. Recently, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) ran an article identifying the 21-year-old midfielder as a possible star player in the 2019 Asian Cup.

After a memorable tournament in Indonesia, five other names are also on the AFC’s list that will be worth watching in the AFC Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) next January.

Nguyen Quang Hai (Vietnam)

Quang Hai's picture posted on the official website of the AFC, along with the article highlighting six Asian Games stars who can shine at UAE 2019.

The golden boy of Vietnamese football rose to prominence at the 2018 AFC U23 Championship where his five goals helped lead his nation to a runners-up finish in China.

The 21-year-old continued his fine form in Indonesia over seven months later, scoring the only goal in an impressive 1-0 win over eventual runners-up Japan to secure top spot in Group D.

Quang Hai was part of the Vietnam side that then eliminated Bahrain and Syria, before ultimately finishing in fourth place, although his memories of the tournament will remain bitter-sweet after missing a penalty in the shootout for the bronze medal against the UAE.

Hwang Ui-jo (Korea Republic)

Korea Republic have struggled to find an out-and-out goalscorer to truly replace veteran striker Lee Dong-gook, but the performance of Hwang Ui-jo at the 2018 Asian Games suggests coach Paulo Bento might have a have a strong candidate for the role at UAE 2019.

A tournament-leading nine goals for the Gamba Osaka man was impressive and his form this year in Japan — 14 goals in 27 appearances — suggests Hwang Ui-jo is approaching his prime.

Lee Seung-woo, Son Heung-min and Hwang Hee-chan are just some of the stars who made up a stellar Korea Republic side in Indonesia, but Hwang Ui-jo's rise and, importantly, goals could be a defining moment for the Taeguk Warriors in their bid to end a 58-year wait for the AFC Asian Cup.

Wei Shihao (China)

One of China's promising stars, midfielder Wei Shihao continued his impressive form at the U23 Championships at home in January to score in each of China’s four matches at the recently concluded Asian Games.

Having broken into the senior national team at the end of 2017, the 23-year-old from China’s Anhui province continues to go from strength to strength and can be expected to be in Marcello Lippi's reckoning for UAE 2019.

Kim Yu-song (DPR Korea)

The top scorer in last season’s AFC Cup, Kim Yu-song, has carried his hot form in front of goal into this year's continental competitions. The 4.25 SC player was DPR Korea's leading scorer at the Asian Games and fired his side to a quarter-final finish.

The 23-year-old has maintained his form in continental club competition with five goals in six games at this year's AFC Cup. Should DPR Korea look to progress past the group stage of UAE 2019, Kim's form in front of goal could be a big factor.

Mohamed Al Shamsi (UAE)

UAE’s Mohamed Al Shamsi was undoubtedly one of the standout keepers from the 2018 Asian Games, helping his side to an impressive bronze medal finish. Named best goalkeeper in the UAE top flight last season, Al Shamsi was in superlative form in Indonesia.

Not only did the Emirati prove an excellent shot-stopper, but was also a penalty shootout specialist with crucial saves against the hosts in the Round of 16, DPR Korea in the quarter-finals and Vietnam in the bronze medal play-off.

Ikromjon Alibaev (Uzbekistan)

There are plenty of players to get excited about in the young White Wolves side that turned out at the 2018 Asian Games. Drawn from the 2018 AFC U23 Championship-winners, the likes of midfielder Odiljon Xamrobekov, full-back Akramjon Kamilov and playmaker Javokhir Sidikov all burnished their growing reputations.

Nevertheless, it was Ikromjon Alibaev - one of the overage players in the squad - who proved to be one of the standouts. The Lokomotiv Tashkent midfielder was the second highest scorer in the competition, with an impressive five goals from five games, without shirking his defensive duties.

Still only 24, Alibaev could prove a vital asset for the White Wolves in their AFC Asian Cup 2019 campaign.