European Stars Illuminate AFC Asian Cup | Son Heung-min, Wataro Endo, and More
|Son Heung-min of Tottenham Hotspur during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and AFC Bournemouth at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on December 31, 2023 in London, England(Image-Getty)
The AFC Asian Cup, the fight for football excellence in Asia, will start from January 12. Asia's best nations will face each other in this competition for the title. Players from various European leagues have already joined the national team to play in this tournament.
Several star players who played in Europe also joined their national team to bring their country the crown of Asian excellence. Among them are South Korea's Son Heung-min, Lee Kang-in, Kim Min-ja and Kim Ji-soo, Japan's Kaoru Mitoma, Takefuso Kubo and Wataru Endo, Iran's Saman Ghoddos and Indonesia's Justin Habner.
South Korea and Tottenham
South Korea has been searching for its third continental supremacy for 63 years. This time they will enter the field to break the title drought. The South Korean team has a number of European star players, with Son Heung-min perhaps the biggest star.
For a long time, Son has been a big trust in the attack of the English club Tottenham. He has also won many matches for Spurs single-handedly. South Korea will also look at him this time. This season, he played 21 matches for Tottenham and scored 12 goals and assisted 5 more goals.
Liverpool had to face criticism for buying Wataro Endo in the transfer. But that Endo has become Liverpool's most trusted player in just six months. Endo brings great balance to Liverpool's midfield after arriving from Stuttgart. Endo showed his munchiana especially in linking up with the attack. Even Liverpool, who are top of the Premier League, have expressed their disappointment after losing Endo at a crucial time. However, even if Liverpool are disappointed, Endo's presence will give Japan extra strength. Now just waiting for captain Endo to keep up the rhythm.
On December 21, Kauro Mitoma was injured while playing a Premier League match for Brighton. That's why there was doubt about his presence in Japan's Asian Cup squad. In the end, Japan announced the team with him. For Brighton, however, every time he took to the field, Mitoma shone. It will be a big achievement for Japan if Mitoma is finally fit after recovering from injury. In addition to scoring 3 goals this season, this left winger has assisted 6 goals.
Japan and Arsenal
Takehiro Tumiasmo is currently not a regular for Arsenal. The Japanese defender has played a total of 20 matches this season. Being in the dugout of the big team despite not getting much chance in Mikel Arteta's team is a rough experience for Tumiaso. Apart from this, Tumiasso also played in the match against Germany and Spain in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Japan's expectations from the 25-year-old defender are even higher this time. He will have the big responsibility of managing the defense fortress of the party.
South Korea, Wolves
Wolves have struggled in the Premier League for the past two seasons. But Hwang Hee-chan tries to destroy himself. The South Korean forward has scored 10 goals and three assists in 20 games this season. His position in the list of highest goals in the league is now number six. South Korea will also want to get Hee-chan who is in such a rhythm. If he shines, the team's work will also be much easier.
Iran and Brentford
In this year's Asian Cup, Iran also has a Premier League representative. Attacking midfielder Saman Ghodos has played 15 matches in all competitions for Brighton this season. He joined the Iran team with the experience of playing in the most competitive league in the world. Iran will have high expectations from the 30-year-old Saman.
Justin Hubner is another Asian star playing for Wolves. However, the 20-year-old center back is yet to make his Wolves first-team debut. He has played two matches for Indonesia so far. The Indonesian team can bet on his talent even though he has no experience of playing in big matches or big events. And if given the chance, Habner might also want to shine.
South Korea and Brentford
Only 19 years old. He joined Brentford from the K League in July last year. However, he has not yet made his debut for the English club. However, G-Sor has not played any matches in the national team yet. Even if he doesn't get a chance at Brentford, the experience of being with a big team will surely be an additional motivation for Kim Ji-sor in the Asian Cup. If given the chance, Ji-soo himself might want to join the big stage.
South Korea, Bayern Munich
Last year, Kim Min-jae was selected as the Asian International Player of the Year. After 1990, Kim also played a major role in helping Napoli win the league title. The 27-year-old defender is known as 'The Beast'. He joined Bayern Munich in the last transfer. He played 22 matches for Bayern this season. After making his debut in 2017, he also played 56 matches for the national team.
South Korea, PSG
If South Korea is to win the continental excellence trophy this time, Lee will have to play a big role. This forward should form a great pair with Son. Currently playing for PSG, Lee has 3 goals and 2 assists in 16 games this season. Lee, who joined PSG from Real Mallorca, was also named Asian Young Player of the Year. Now it remains to be seen whether he can match himself in the Asian Cup or not.
Japan, Real Sociedad
Takefuso Kubo plays for La Liga club Real Sociedad. The 22-year-old right winger has scored 6 goals in 18 La Liga appearances for Real Sociedad this season. Has 3 more assists. He played in age group football in Barcelona. Then he was in Real Madrid until 2019-22. Although this Japanese played the entire time. Has been in Sociedad since 2022.