BEST XI: EAFF E-1 Football Championship Round 2 Men’s Tournament

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With the EAFF E-1 Football Championship 2016 Round 2 Men’s Tournament having concluded, Football Channel’s editorial team have selected our Best XI from the four competing teams:

GK: Ri Myong Guk ()

The only goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet over three games faced more shots on goal from Hong Kong than he did against and combined, performing cooly under pressure.

DF: Pak Myong Song (DPR Korea)

The young and talented Pak may lack height and build, but he overcame that over three matches with his speed and skill. His clearances against Hong Kong’s Alex were crucial in the deciding match, and at 22 he shows an impressive knack for quick decision-making.

DF: Festus Baise (Hong Kong)

With his speed and quick reactions, Festus is the heart of the Hong Kong defence and got them out of several tight spots. In particular, it was his clearances against DPR Korea match that kept his team to within a one-goal deficit.

DF: Brandon McDonald (Guam)

One of many USA-raised players on the Matao, the former MLS man is especially good at reading the opposition during set pieces. The disappointment on McDonald’s face after the team failed to find a third goal against Hong Kong said it all about the effort he left on the pitch.

DF: Ri Yong Chol (DPR Korea)

Little is known about the 25 year old, but he turned heads with his mature play in the tournament. Ri’s mature play exemplified the image of the “traditional” DPR Korea player – fast, stubborn, and quick to return to action after taking a fall.

MF: Chen Po-Liang (Chinese Taipei)

Chin Po-Liang’s experience in the Chinese Super League has served Chinese Taipei well. Beyond his goal against Hong Kong, the midfielder was instrumental in creating many of his team’s chances and his aggressive attitude in the penalty area helped to spur on his teammates.

MF: Jason Cunliffe (Guam)

Captain Cunliffe’s superb performance kept Guam within reach of a shock result against Hong Kong when he scored one goal and assisted another late in the match. It was clear that the team’s rhythm suffered when he left the Chinese Taipei match due to injury.

MF: Lin Chieh-Hsun (Chinese Taipei)

Despite not appearing in the first two matches, Lin showed his abilities in the final game against Guam, not only scoring his team’s second goal but also setting the tempo for his teammates by distributing passes throughout. Coach Kazuo Kuroda will surely regret having waited until the final game to use the Round 1 MVP.

FW: Pak Kwang Ryong (DPR Korea)

The Lausanne striker is taller and stronger than most of the defenders he faced, and his experience in Switzerland has molded him into a player capable of attacking quickly and pressuring his opponents. Chinese Taipei captain Chen Yi-wei called him a “nightmare” to defend, and his presence surely opened up opportunities in the final third for his teammates.

FW: Alex Akande (Hong Kong)

The Golden Boot winner of the tournament with six goals, including all four against Chinese Taipei. Alex was fearless in his first two matches but could not find a rhythm against the stout DPR Korea defensive line. At just 27 years old, he would arguably be a bargain for many Asian clubs.

FW: Jong Il Gwan (DPR Korea)

The surprise package of the round, little is known about Jong Il Gwan as he plays in his country’s secretive domestic league. But his speed and fearless attitude paid big dividends, as he scored in the first match against Chinese Taipei before netting the crucial goal against Hong Kong on Saturday night.

COACH: Jorn Andersen (DPR Korea)

In half a year in charge, the Norwegian has successfully begun to instill his philosophy of organised European-style defending. If he stays with DPR Korea despite a rumoured move to Africa, the team could be a surprise package for UAE 2019.