Asian Cup Headline Acts

Who will make headlines at this year's Asian Cup?

It’s the biggest international footballing event of the year, and for the first time ever it’s on our shores! The 2015 Asian Cup is shaping up to be one of the most hotly contested yet, with a number of teams making genuine claims to win the continent’s biggest tournament. With Australia dropping off the pace on the international stage in recent years, Japan head into this instalment of the competition as favourites, however the emergence of young, talented squads from countries such as Iran, South Korea and Uzbekistan has really thrown the cat amongst the pigeons. With so much at stake, heroes and villains alike are bound to make headlines over the next few weeks, so whose names should we expect to appear on the back pages of the papers?    

 



 


 

Tim Cahill

 

Club: New York Red Bull

Caps: 76

Goals: 36

Top Scorer Price: 

Australia To Win:



Image courtesy of: abc.net.au

After more than 10 long years, three World Cups and countless memorable goals, it seems as though the time to hang up the boots and call it a day on his international career is almost upon Tim Cahill. At 35, the former Everton and Millwall striker has achieved so much for club and country, and he will undoubtedly go down in history as a Socceroos great. Cahill showed everyone he’s still a class act at the 2014 World Cup, scoring twice in the group stages, including one of the goals of the tournaments against the Netherlands. Expect the man they call the “jumping kangaroo” to dominate in aerial contests and power home a couple of trademark headers.

 







 


 

Nathan Burns

 

Club: Wellington Phoenix

Caps: 7

Goals: 0

Top Scorer Price: 

Australia To Win:



Image courtesy of: adelaidenow.com.au

For Ange Postecoglou, Nathan Burns’ name would have never been mentioned six months ago. However, some devastating form in the A-league for Wellington Phoenix has caught the eye of the Socceroos manager and the 26-year-old is shaping up as one of Australia’s most valuable impact players. The country boy from Orange tops the goal scoring charts domestically with 10 goals in a dozen matches, and his knack of finding the net in the stickiest of situations could land him some goals for the hosts and possibly a spot in the starting XI.

 




 


 

Keisuke Honda

 

Club: AC Milan

Caps: 65

Goals: 24

Top Scorer Price: 

Japan To Win:



Image courtesy of: japantimes.co.jp

Applying his trade in Italy for European giants AC Milan, watching Keisuke Honda play is well worth the entry fee on its own. Recognisable from a distance with his bleached blonde hair, the 28-year-old is beginning to hit the prime of his career and has proved to be deadly with the ball, whether it’s moving or stationary. Honda has appeared for Japan in the past two World Cups, scoring a total of three goals, including a spectacular free-kick against Denmark in 2010. The skilful attacker was touted MVP in the last Asian Cup, and Japanese fans will expect him to wreak havoc once again, this time on Australian soil.

 







 


 

Shinji Kagawa

 

Club: Borussia Dortmund

Caps: 62

Goals: 19

Top Scorer Price: 

Japan To Win:



Image courtesy of: mirror.co.uk

With experience of playing in some of the biggest leagues in the world with the greatest clubs, Shinji Kagawa boasts a résumé any football player would crave. The former Manchester United midfielder pulls the strings for the Blue Samurai in attack, and when he’s not creating goals, he’s scoring them. At the tender age of 25, Kagawa has already racked up 62 caps for Japan, scoring 19 goals since his national team inception in 2008. The fan favourite was voted Asian International Footballer of the Year in 2012 and played a pivotal role in his country’s continental success in 2011.

 




 


 

Son Heung-Min

 

Club: Bayer Leverkusen 

Caps: 34

Goals: 7

Top Scorer Price: 

South Korea To Win:



Image courtesy of: paneecalcio.com

Little known in this part of the world, but widely recognised in Europe as one of the game’s best young prospects is South Korea’s Son Heung-Min. Despite being barely old enough to drink alcohol in his home country, the 22-year-old has already racked up 34 appearances for the senior national side. The pacey winger has ripped defenders to shreds in the Bundesliga over the past five years, currently playing alongside Robbie Kruse at Bayer Leverkusen. South Korea come up against Australia in Group A during the second round of group matches, and the Socceroos backline will have to work overtime to keep this youngster quiet.

 




 


 

R. Ghoochennejhad

 

Club: Charlton Athletic 

Caps: 19

Goals: 11

Top Scorer Price:

Iran To Win:



Image courtesy of: ghanafans.com

Just as hard to contain in defence as it is to spell his name, Reza Ghoochannejhad knows how to put the ball into the back of the net. With 11 goals in just 19 appearances for Iran, he enters the tournament as the best striker, statistically speaking. After playing for the Netherlands in his junior international career, the 27-year-old made the switch to line up for the country he was born and raised. Tagged with the nickname Gucci to simplify his surname, the quick and powerful striker scored his side's only goal at the World Cup, and like Iran are dark horses to take out the Asian Cup, he lurks as a threat to be the tournament’s top goal scorer.

 


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