Shahril Jantan (Singapore Armed Forces, Singapore): The S-League team
may have finished bottom of their group but they improved game-by-game. Shahril
was consistently impressive in Group G and made save after save. Although it
ended with a last-minute sending off, it was a very good first stage overall for the Singaporean shot-stopper.
Osama Hawsawi (Al Hilal, KSA): Osama is the rock on which Al Hilal’s defence is
built. Consistently impressive, the sometime Saudi Arabian international barely
put a foot wrong.
Hamad Al Montashari (Al Ittihad, KSA): The 2006 Asian Player of the Year is a cultured defender and a good
number of Al Ittihad attacks stem from this source. Great positioning and
anticipation make him one of Asia’s best.
Li Weifeng (Suwon, South Korea): The Chinese star picked up
his obligatory red card (though in mystifying circumstances), scored two goals
and threw himself in front of a number of shots. Not the most refined
performances but the passion of the player is impressive.
Mirel Radoi (Al Hilal, KSA): The Romanian is a cool
customer. Rarely gives the ball away, a great eye for a pass and not a bad one
for goal either. He keeps the Saudi team ticking.
Yoshizumi Ogawa (Nagoya Grampus, Japan): The 24-year-old was named in the 2008 J-League team of the year and
has carried last year’s domestic form onto the continental stage. A tidy player
who also helps out in the goalscoring department.
Mitsuo Ogasawara (Kashima Antlers, Japan): It is perhaps no
surprise that the one defeat suffered by the Japanese champions came when their
skipper was on the bench and still returning to fitness. After that hiccup,
Ogasawara helped to make sure that Kashima breezed into the second round with a
series of composed performances.
Darko Markovic (Pahktakor, Uzbekistan): The Montenegrin midfielder was a lynchpin of the Pahktakor midfield,
busy in both defence and attack. An unsung and effective player in an unsung an
Prince Tagoe (Ettifaq, KSA): It is no wonder that the Ghanaian hitman
has been linked with a Premier League move to Fulham. A blast of seven goals in
three games sent the Damman club hurtling into the next stage.
Nassir Al Shamrani (Al Shabab, KSA): The Saudi striker has scored in
four of the team’s five games and his consistency in front of goal is a big
reason why the Riyadh club made it to the last 16.
Leandro (Gamba Osaka, Japan):
Eight goals is an impressive achievement and the Brazilian’s goalscoring
instincts meant that Gamba’s group turned out to be much smoother than some had