Five Asian stars for the Hyundai A-League


​The Hyundai A-League season is not far away and while the FIFA World Cup may not have been the best advertisement for Asian football there is plenty of talent on the continent available that could be interested in a move down under.

Park Chu-young (South Korea)

Tough but not impossible. If the A-League wanted to have every Korean football fan seeking streams or cable television packages, this would be the way to go. Second only to Park Ji-sung in terms of profile for years, Park popularity at home may have fallen for various reasons since joining Arsenal in 2011 but he is still very big news.

The 29 year-old is currently a free agent, and while his Arsenal salary was substantial, he will not be able to command anything even remotely similar from his next employer. Was probably Asia’s top striker three or so years ago and is still a genuine star who speaks English and has something serious to prove – he could be ideal.

He also does not want to play in Korea. A move to a smaller Bundesliga club has been mooted and former FC Seoul boss Senol Gunes wouldn’t mind taking Park to Turkey but Australia would not be out of the question.

Ali Ashfaq (Maldives)

Maldives made headlines around the world by holding South Korea to a draw in 2004, a result that led to Humberto Coelho departing Seoul. There could have been a few more had the teenage Ali Ashfaq not turned down the offer of a trial with Benfica as a teenager but in recent years has talked more than once about his desire to move overseas.

He eventually did so in 2013, joining PDRM in the Malaysian second division and 17 goals helped fire the team to the top tier of one of the most vibrant leagues in continent. The club has lost its coach to the national team and there is a little uncertainty in the air.

The A-League could also appeal to the ‘Man of Steel’ who many believe is the best striker in South Asia.

Andik Vermansyah (Indonesia)

Being labelled as a country’s version of Lionel Messi may make for good headlines (and there have been plenty of those) but presents a challenge that any budding star would be wise to try and avoid in the best fashion of the Argentine master.

This twinkle-toed 22 year-old sold ice near a football stadium as a boy to try and raise funds for football boots. Two years ago, Andik had a trial with DC United in the MLS but while he impressed in parts, there was a feeling that the league may be too physical for the diminutive winger but under the right guidance, there is real potential.

A certain Mehmet Durakovic is the player’s boss at the Malasyian club Selangor and it may be worth someone in Australia giving the former Melbourne Victory coach a call.

Ismail Matar (UAE)

The King of UAE football is about to hand over the crown to Al Ain midfielder Omar Abdulrahman, perhaps making it easier for Al Wahda to let him leave. The playmaker, now 31, was seen as so important by the Abu Dhabi club that they refused a transfer to Europe where the world would have seen the talents that earned him the Golden Boot at the 2003 World Youth Championships, now the U20 World Cup. The player wanted to head west when he was at his peak and remains philosophical about his failure to do so. He can still perform a service by moving to the A-League and helping to make it easier for fellow Emiratis and others in West Asia to leave the region for far-flung destinations. Matar would be a star in the A-League and it would be a big deal in West Asia too.

Sunil Chhetri (India)

The golden boy of Indian football has come close to a dream move to Europe more than once but the problem with being the golden boy of Indian football means that clubs are sometimes more interested in the passport and the popularity rather than the player.

The treatment that the talented striker has had at certain trials has not been as respectful as it could have been but he’s still keen on a move overseas telling me that there isn’t much else for him to learn in India. Australia could be ideal.

It shouldn’t be all about the commercial benefits of signing such a player but it would certainly go down well with Indians back home and those already down under. It could also lead to more Indians going overseas.