Asian Cup 2004 All-Star team named

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BEIJING - Seven of the players who will be playing in Saturday?s Asian Cup 2004 final have been included in the Asian All Star 1st XI side named by the AFC?s Technical Study Group.

Four Japan players ? goalkeeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi, defenders Tsuneyasu Miyamoto and Yuji Nakazawa, and Shunsuke Nakamura ? and three from China ? defender Zheng Zhi and midfielders Zhao Junzhe and Shao Jiayi ? were included in the All Star list that was released on Saturday by the AFC.

The remaining 1st XI players came from the tournament?s two other semi-finalists: Bahrain?s Talal Yusuf and A?ala Hubail, and Iran?s Ali Karimi and Mehdi Mahdavikia.

1. Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi (JPN) ? Goalkeeper

The most valuable player in Japan?s 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia in the Asian Cup 2000 final in Lebanon has proven invaluable to his country?s cause once again in China with his excellent form in goal for the defending champions. Kawaguchi was particularly prominent in the quarter-finals against Jordan when he made a string of excellent saves and stopped two penalties as Japan won in a shootout.

2. Mehdi Mahdavikia (IRN) ? Forward

The reigning AFC Player of the Year may have failed to find the net in China but made a huge contribution in Iran?s run to the semi-finals with his exquisite passes setting up a number of goals for his team. The highlight of the tournament for the Hamburg star was his virtuoso performance in Iran?s 4-3 win over Korea Republic in the quarter-finals, when he set up all four of his team?s goals.

3. Zheng Zhi (CHN) ? Defender

A rock at the heart of the China defence throughout the tournament, the 23-year-old Shenzhen Jianlibao player has also made a major contribution at the other end of the field, scoring three goals, all from the penalty spot. Zheng kept his cool to score twice during the closing minutes of their tense quarter-final victory over Iraq and also led the way for China by converting the first spot kick in the semi-final shootout win over Iran.

4. Tsuneyasu Miyamoto (JPN) ? Defender

Just as he did at the 2002 World Cup, Tsuneyasu Miyamoto has assumed the leadership role for Japan and skippered them to their third Asian Cup final in four attempts. The Japanese captain has superbly anchored his team?s defence which conceded only five goals in their run to the final. Not afraid to speak up for his team, he convinced the referee to change ends during their penalty shootout win over Jordan in the quarter-finals.

5. Yuji Nakazawa (JPN) ? Defender

The owner of perhaps the most shocking hairstyle at Asian Cup 2004 has been a key man for Japan at both ends of the field throughout the tournament. A rock in the Japan defence, Nakazawa has also contributed three goals to the Japan cause, netting a brace against Thailand and then diving to head home a last-minute equaliser against Bahrain in the semi-finals.

6. Zhao Junzhe (CHN) ? Midfielder

Zhao Junzhe?s fine performances as a holding midfield for China have been a key factor in his side?s progression to the Asian Cup 2004 final. The team captain in the absence of Li Weifeng, Zhao?s sturdy displays in midfield and his superb ball-winning skills have anchored the team which has scored 12 goals and conceded only three so far.

7. Talal Yusuf (BHR) - Midfielder

Talal Yusuf has emerged as one of the stars of the upstart Bahraini side, which has turned a number of heads with their superb run at the Asian Cup 2004. In addition to scoring from two free-kicks, the 29-year-old playmaker has also been a thorn in the side of opposition defences with his driving runs and superb distribution.

8. Shunsuke Nakamura (JPN) ? Midfielder

The key man in the Japan attack, Shunsuke Nakamura has been superb in the Asian Cup 2004 scoring two goals and driving his team forward with his superb distribution and dead-ball skills. He scored perhaps the goal of the tournament in the 1-0 win over Oman in the first round, exquisitely curling the ball past goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi with a deft left-foot strike.

9. A?ala Hubail (BHR) ? Forward

Just 22, A?ala Hubail has emerged as one of Asia?s finest attacking talents at the Asian Cup 2004. The joint leading scorer with five goals, Hubail came to the fore with a brace against Uzbekistan in the quarter-finals and another double against Japan in the last four. A hard-working player, Hubail has also done the job at the back, winning the ball in defence and clearing one effort off the line in extra-time against Uzbekistan.

10. Ali Karimi (IRN) ? Forward

Ali Karimi has come to the fore in the Asian Cup 2004, emerging as the joint-leading scorer with five goals for Iran. The 25-year-old caught the eye with a driving run through the heart of the Thailand defence that set up Iran?s first goal of the tournament but really made his mark with a superb hat-trick in his team?s epic quarter-final victory over Korea Republic.

11. Shao Jiayi (CHN) ? Midfielder

China?s joint leading scorer with three goals, Shao Jiayi has done a superb job for his team after only starting on the bench in the opening match against Bahrain. The deadball specialist scored two excellent goals against Indonesia, and also found the net in the semi-final against Iran.



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