As the Asian Cup continues, Jordan and hosts and holders Qatar will contest the final on Saturday (today).
AFP Sport picks out five players who made a name for themselves during the tournament:
• Yazan Al-Naimat (Jordan) –
Together with fellow attacker Mousa Al-Tamari, Naimat terrorised South Korea’s defence in Jordan’s 2-0 semi-final win.
Tamari is Jordan’s only player in Europe but clubs across the planet will have taken note of Naimat’s all-action performances over the past month.
The 24-year-old Naimat scored in a 2-2 draw with South Korea in the group phase, then added another against them in the semi-final. He also netted in a thrilling 3-2 win over Iraq.
Quick and direct, he has created 10 chances during the tournament, the joint second most among all players.
He currently plays for Al-Ahli in Qatar and the centre-forward has 14 goals in 43 appearances for his club, plus 15 assists.
• Mousa Al-Tamari (Jordan) –
The 26-year-old wide attacker is a contender for player of the tournament after his goals and assists, along with Naimat’s, helped propel Jordan into a first final in their history.
Tamari is with French side Montpellier and his displays in Qatar have showcased his talents to an even wider audience.
He started his tournament with a bang, hitting a brace in a 4-0 demolition of Malaysia, then rose to the occasion with a man-of-the-match role in the win over South Korea in the last four.
Pacy, skilful and hard working, Tamari set up Naimat for the first goal and 13 minutes later got in on the act by slicing through the Korean defence before unleashing a ruthless finish.
• Oday Dabbagh (Palestine) –
Palestine made history by reaching the Asian Cup knockout rounds for the first time and Dabbagh played a crucial role, chipping in with three goals.
The striker, who moved to Belgian side Charleroi last year, was a constant nuisance for defenders with his aerial prowess and poacher’s instinct in front of goal.
Just turned 25 and playing in his second Asian Cup, his peak years are still ahead of him.
Palestine’s tournament ended in a 2-1 defeat to Qatar in the last 16, but together with skipper and defender Musab Al-Battat, Dabbagh was their star performer.
• Abbosbek Fayzullaev (Uzbekistan) –
Uzbekistan’s tournament ended in the quarter-finals on penalties to Qatar but there will be plenty more Asian Cups for Fayzullaev.
The 20-year-old attacker has been one to watch for a while now and he showed why in particular with the winner from outside the box against Thailand in the last 16.
As is expected from a young player, he flitted out of games occasionally, but it was the CSKA Moscow starlet’s second goal of the competition and he was named man of the match.
Thailand’s uncompromising defenders had had enough of him by the end and he asked to be substituted late on to avoid any more rough treatment.
• Lucas Mendes (Qatar) –
Forward Akram Afif hogged the headlines for Qatar but Mendes also played a key role in taking the hosts and holders to the final.
Born in Brazil, Mendes played for Marseille a decade ago and has Champions League experience with them, suffering defeats to Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund.
Only made his Qatar debut in November but has played his club football in the country for the past nine years.
Quietly effective at the back, Mendes used all of his experience and defensive nous to help Qatar breeze through the group stage without conceding a goal.
Credit Gist New Today News in Newspaper Nigeria Headlines