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AFC Women's Asian Cup

Kerr, Iwabuchi & the players to watch at the Women's Asian Cup

7:00 PM EST 1/12/22
Sam Kerr Australia Women 2021
The 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup gets underway on January 20 in India, with Australia and Japan the frontrunners for the title

The 2022 AFC Women's Asian Cup gets underway this month in India, with it promising to be the most exciting edition of the tournament to date.

The competition has expanded from eight teams to 12, paving the way for Iran to make its Asian Cup debut while Indonesia return for the first time since 1989.

It will be a tournament littered with world-class talent too. GOAL has picked out some of the players on show that you should certainly keep an eye on.

  • Sam Kerr Australia Women 2021

    Sam Kerr (Australia)

    There may not be a more in-form player going into this tournament than Sam Kerr. She finished third in the voting for the Ballon d’Or Feminin after 2021 saw her score 40 goals and register 18 assists, while winning the Women’s Super League and Continental Cup with Chelsea.

    The electric forward is also captain of Australia and guided the Matildas to the semi-finals of the Olympics in the summer. Kerr could make history in India, as she only needs two goals to surpass former Everton star Tim Cahill and become Australia’s most prolific international goal-scorer.

  • Ellie Carpenter Australia Women 2021

    Ellie Carpenter (Australia)

    Leading Australia’s exciting next generation of talent is Ellie Carpenter. The 21-year-old plays her football with seven-time European champions Lyon, with a transfer to France coming in 2020 after she had excelled in the A-League Women at home and the NWSL in the United States.

    Carpenter is the typical modern full-back, attacking at the same high level that she defends. She also showed her ability to be versatile at the Olympics, playing as a centre-back in a back three and being one of the star performers at the tournament.

  • Mana Iwabuchi Japan Women 2021

    Mana Iwabuchi (Japan)

    One of the most exciting individuals on show at the Asian Cup will be Japan’s creative midfielder Mana Iwabuchi. Her excellent technical skills make her a joy to watch and a nightmare for opposing defenders, as those in the Women’s Super League have learned from her time with Aston Villa and, now, Arsenal.

    Iwabuchi’s ability to create chances for her team-mates and to get on the scoresheet herself make her a key player for a Japan side that will be eager to perform well after a disappointing Olympics campaign.

  • Saki Kumagai Japan Women 2021

    Saki Kumagai (Japan)

    The captain of Japan, Saki Kumagai’s leadership will be very important as the team enter a new chapter, with Futoshi Ikeda having been appointed as the new head coach back in November. The 31-year-old has tons of experience, winning an incredible 19 trophies in eight years with Lyon.

    Kumagai’s ability is just as crucial for her national team. The Bayern Munich star is a composed figure in the centre of defence and has a track record of stepping up in the big moments - scoring the winning penalty in the 2011 Women's World Cup final.

  • Wang Shuang China Women 2021

    Wang Shuang (China)

    Formerly of Paris Saint-Germain, Wang Shuang is China’s biggest star, a creative midfield player who has over 100 caps for her country and plenty of memorable performances to her name.

    It was her extra time strike that secured China its place in the women's football tournament at Tokyo 2020, where she would score four goals in a single game - a thrilling 4-4 draw with Zambia.

    The 2018 Asian Women's Footballer of the Year is a truly special talent and will be very important if the most successful team in the history of the Asian Cup are to have another tournament to remember.

  • Pham Hai Yen

    Pham Hai Yen (Vietnam)

    No one scored more goals in qualifying for this tournament than Vietnam forward Pham Hai Yen, whose eight strikes helped secure her country’s ticket to India.

    Vietnam has never progressed to the knockout stages and will need Hai Yen to be on top form if they want to get to the quarter-finals, having landed a tough group with Japan and South Korea.

    The 27-year-old has an excellent record at international level, with 30 goals in 44 games, but has never scored at the Asian Cup. She’ll be keen to change that this month.

  • Zahra Muzdalifah - Timnas Sepakbola Wanita Indonesia Asian Games 2018

    Zahra Muzdalifah (Indonesia)

    One of the stand-out performers in the Asian Cup qualifiers, Zahra Muzdalifah’s excellent form helped Indonesia secure a welcome return to the tournament after 33 years away.

    Back-to-back wins over Singapore saw that drought ended, with the forward’s performance in the second of those victories enough to see her voted Player of the Match.

    She might only be 20 years old, but Muzdalifah is the cause for serious excitement at home, with her proving to be a creative force in a team that will hope to cause an upset or two in India.

  • Ji So-yun South Korea Women 2021

    Ji So-yun (South Korea)

    Regarded by some as the greatest foreign signing ever made by a Women’s Super League club, Chelsea’s Ji So-yun is one of the most talented players in world football. The playmaking midfielder has been integral to the Blues’ rise in England, winning 10 trophies in her eight years with the club.

    Her importance to her country is just as big. With over 100 caps to her name, she brings huge experience to this team, and she’s proven herself a reliable goalscorer at international level too, almost averaging a goal every other game.

  • Taneekarn Dangda Thailand Women 2021

    Taneekarn Dangda (Thailand)

    Only Miranda Nild in the Thailand squad has more international goals than Taneekarn Dangda, with goal-scoring clearly running in the family as her older brother, Teerasil, is only one short of 50 for the men's team.

    The 29-year-old was part of the side that reached the semi-finals of the Asian Cup in 2018, only eliminated on penalties by Australia after the Matildas scored a stoppage time equaliser.

    Drawn together in Group B of this year’s tournament, Thailand will look to avenge that defeat early on, with Dangda and her goals to be important if they’re able to.