Goal.com's Asian Best XI for January - Shinji Kagawa, Javad Nekounam & many more get the nod

Goal.com's monthly feature from the world's biggest continent has a new format, drawing on all of our regional expertise to put together a Best XI for January
Welcome to Goal.com's tweaked new feature: the monthly Goal.com's Asian Best XI.

Previously Goal.com produced an Asian Player and Team of the month feature, but we have changed the format in order to nominate more stars and give the readers more of a voice.

Thanks to our worldwide team we are able to put together a team of the best Asian footballers throughout January in a 4-4-2 formation. However, to ascertain who is the best Asian player for the month, we are calling on you, our loyal readers, to join in the poll (see below the Best XI) and vote.

Asian Best XI for January

Formation: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper - Ali Hassani Sefat


The Iranian goalkeeper had a record-breaking month in which he kept six clean sheets in six matches with Malavan. In fact, the last time Hassani Sefat conceded was back on December 9. He played a major role in the 2-0 win over Tehran giants Persepolis by saving a penalty. The modest Hassani Sefat thanks his defence for the record, but plenty of credit must go to him.

Right-back - Cha Du-Ri


The 31-year-old South Korean full-back has enjoyed a fine month with a resurgent Celtic who have moved ahead in the Scottish title race, despite Rangers appearing certain champions earlier in the campaign. Cha made several starts for the Hoops during January with his trademark marauding runs down the flank a big feature. Defensively, Celtic only conceded one goal during the month while he was on the pitch.

Centre-back - Baihakki Khaizan

Lions XII

Baihakki has been in top form for the Singapore team who are playing in Malaysia's Super League for the first time since 1994. The defender, who has been in exile from the national team for over a year, helped his new side to a draw and two wins in the last three games, despite injuries and suspensions to the team. Baihakki also bagged the Lions XII's first goal of the term, with a neat header in the 2-1 defeat to Kelantan in early January.

Centre-back - Lucas Neill

Al Jazira

The veteran Australian central defender continues to win plenty of admirers in UAE after another good month at the back for the champions. Neill's steadying influence in defence has helped Al Jazira move towards the Emirates Cup semi-finals. The Abu Dhabi club are having their own issues in their title defence, but the Socceroos skipper has been one consistent performer who has shown the way forward.

Left-back - Yuto Nagatomo


Nagatomo has been pivotal in Inter's resurgence under Claudio Ranieri. Despite the loss in the last game of the month against Lecce, the Japanese left-back performed consistently throughout January, and was one of the best defenders in Serie A last month. Japan boss Alberto Zaccheroni must surely be looking forward to his contribution in the forthcoming World Cup qualifier against Uzbekistan.

Right midfield - Mark Bresciano

Al Nasr

The midfielder has played a key role in Al Nasr's surge up the UAE Pro-League table with a couple of goals for Walter Zenga's side. Al Nasr fans have taken to the Aussie veteran with a recent banner which read: “We don't need Cristiano (Ronaldo), we've got Bresciano”. The Australian's strike against leaders Al Ain, in a 2-0 win, was crucial while he'll be excited to link up with new signing Luca Toni who he will know well from his time in Italy.

Centre midfield - Javad Nekounam


Nekounam was shining again in Spain in January for an Osasuna side who had an indifferent month. The Iranian now is a key player of Jose Luis Mendilibar's side in his defensive midfield role. One of the highlights of the month for Nekounam, was his Copa del Rey battle with Barcelona's Xavi. Unfortunately Nekouna's Osasuna came off second best but the battle was an opportunity to witness his quality.

Centre midfield - Stefano Lilipaly

FC Utrecht

The Dutch-born midfielder had a breakthrough month at Utrecht, starting several games and scoring his first goal for the Eredivisie outfit. Lilipaly produced an excellent performance for when he netted a goal in the 1-1 draw against Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven. With that achievement, he became the first Indonesian to score in the Dutch Eredivisie. More pertinently, he has shown he fits at this level with some consistent displays.

Left midfield - Shinji Kagawa

Borussia Dortmund

After his slow start to the campaign, Kagawa seems refreshed following the winter break. In the game against Hamburg, he may not have got on the scoresheet but played a key role in attack, setting up several scoring opportunities in the 5-1 win. His rewards would come against Hoffenheim, when he grabbed a brace and produced a cool assist. He looks in really good shape mentally, as well as physically.

Striker - Amad Al Hosni

Al Ahli

The Omani striker helped his team move to the top of the Saudi Arabian Pro League as they went on a seven-game winning streak. Al Hosni scored in every Al Ahli game during January, including some crucial goals. The most important came in the 1-0 derby victory against Al Hilal. Al Hosni has the flexibility and high fitness levels that gives him the ability to score goals in difficult situations.

Striker - Mehdi Rajabzadeh


The 33-year-old ex-Iran international striker is now plying his trade at Fajr Sepasi. The club were struggling towards the bottom end of the table but under new coach Mahmoud Yavari they have shown themselves again. Rajabzadeh has been a big part of that, scoring five goals throughout the month as the team overcame its crisis. Rajabzadeh's highlight was a double in the shock 2-1 win over leaders Esteghlal.

Manager - Attaphol Buspakom


The 49-year-old coach had a successful month with the Premier League champions as they lifted the Thai FA Cup win a 1-0 win over Muang Thong United. The victory was that much sweeter for Buspakon, who was fired by Muang Thong shortly after leading them to their first league title in 2009. Buspakom has had a lot of pressure and expectations to handle at Buriram but has done a fine job.


Goalkeeper Defender

Mathew Ryan
(Central Coast)

Salem Al Dosari
(Al Hilal)

Alfin Tuasalamony
(CS Vise)

Park Ji-Sung (Manchester United)
Left Winger
Striker Striker

Harry Kewell
(Melbourne Victory)

Majed Mohammed
(Al Sadd)

Norshahrul Idlan Talaha (Kelantan)

The Goal.com team have had their say, and now it's your chance to vote for who you think should be the Asian Player of the Month!

Also do you agree with our Best XI picks? Would you rather swap a player from the bench? Let us know in our comments!

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