Football

AFC highlights players expected to make the difference in the ACL (east) semi-final

The AFC website shed light on some names that could make an impact in the ACL semi-final.

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AFC highlights players expected to make the difference in the ACL (east) semi-final
IBRAHEEM AL OMARI REUTERS

Japanese Vissel Kobe and South Korean Ulsan Hyundai are one step away from securing an ACL final spot against Persepolis of Iran on 19 December. Both teams have had successful campaigns with the help of several domestic and international players.

The AFC official website has highlighted some names that could make the difference for their team and leave their mark by leading their side to the grand finale in Doha.

Junior Negrão - Ulsan Hyundai FC

AFC Champions League - Quarter Final - Ulsan Hyundai v Beijing Guoan2020 Ulsan Hyundai's Junior Negrao celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Ibraheem Al Omari

The Brazilian striker is having one of his best seasons ever and has scored 32 goals in all competitions, four of which have come in the AFC Champions League tournament.

The Brazilian was one of the key reasons why Ulsan Hyundai are in the semi-final thanks to the brace he scored against FC Beijing in the quarter-final. He also played a crucial part in the comeback his team accomplished against Australian Perth Glory with an assist and a late winning goal which makes him Ulsan Hyundai's most feared weapon in the box for the Vissel Kobe's encounter.

Yoon Bit-garam - Ulsan Hyundai FC

Sin tituloUlsan's midfielder Yun Bit-Garam reacts during the AFC Champions League round of 16 football match between Korea's Ulsan Hyundai and Australia's Melbourne Victory on December 6, 2020 at the Education City Stadium in the Qatari city of Ar-Rayyan. (Photo by KARIM JAAFAR / AFP)

Despite missing two games, Bit-Garam managed to find the back of the net four times as he stole the spotlight from Negrão in some fixtures.

Besides his ability to score, the 30-year-old midfielder is a crucial pillar in his team's attacking build-up, having created 18 chances and two assists.

Kyogo Furuhashi - Vissel Kobe

AFC Champions League - Quarter Final - Vissel Kobe v Suwon BluewingsSoccer Football - AFC Champions League - Quarter Final - Vissel Kobe v Suwon Bluewings - Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah, Qatar - December 10, 2020 Vissel Kobe's Kyogo Furuhashi REUTERS/Ibraheem Al Omari

As Spanish legend Andres Iniesta is struggling with a muscle injury that limited his playtime in the quarter-finals to 8 minutes, it's time for the 25-year-old to shine.

Furuhashi has already been delivering very satisfying performances, topping his team's goal scoring chart with 3 goals. Known for his great ability to unlock the opponent's defense, he is considered a constant threat to goalkeepers, having had 8 shots on target in his appearances during this campaign.

Hotaru Yamaguchi - Vissel Kobe

Sin tituloKobe's midfielder Hotaru Yamaguchi (front) vies for the ball with Suwon's forward Ko Seung-Beom during the AFC Champions League group G football match between Japan's Vissel Kobe and Korea's Suwon Samsung Bluewings on December 4, 2020 at the Khalifa International Stadium in the Qatari capital of Doha. (Photo by KARIM JAAFAR / AFP)

Yamaguchi is Vissel Kobe's vice-captain whose international experience will help the team maintain its composure against the rampaging Ulsan Hyundai.

Yamaguchi has a crucial role with his team at both the attacking and defensive levels having completed 420 passes and 40 recoveries with a passing accuracy of 90%.

The 30-year-old has previously participated in the competition in Cerezo Osaka’s colors on three separate occasions, reaching the Round of 16 in 2014, before he joined Vissel Kobe in 2019.