In each edition of the world’s most illustrious sporting competition, players that are not quite known worldwide stun the world and put their name in lights.
This year as ever, numerous relatively under-the-radar men will be eyeing summer stardom but who are the picks of the Asian and Australasian bunch?
Let’s take a look.
5. Yosuke Ideguchi – central midfielder (Japan)
On loan from Leeds United at Cultural Leonesa for the latter half of this campaign, the box-to-box midfielder starred for Gamba Osaka last season and broke into his national squad. Despite being 21 years-old, he has an impressive tally of 5 trophies in his native league and can be a vital cog in any side when on form. In spite of doubts surrounding his club future, he might just sneak his way into an aging team and be a bright young talent for the Samurai Blue.
4. Saman Ghoddos – attacking midfielder (Iran)
This rumoured Crystal Palace, Leicester City and West Ham United target born in Sweden has become one of the stand-out men in the Allsvenskan in recent years. Now plying his trade with Östersunds he is set to get his big chance in Russia. Capable of creating goals and scoring them, it would be no surprise if he shows his technical ability on the biggest stage of all.
3. Mathew Leckie – winger (Australia)
Spending most of his career in Germany, the pacey Aussie is finally coming into his peak years. Winning many unlikely aerial duels out wide, his presence for the Socceroos will be needed if they want to escape a tough group. His final product is often criticised but he is a difficult man to stop when on form.
2. Hwang Hee-chan – striker (South Korea)
The next big name coming off the Red Bull sport production line, the Salzburg 22 year-old has become a real focal point for his national team as of late – scoring away against Poland in his last International outing. Despite just 11 caps, he fits into the Taegeuk Warriors’ system well alongside more established forwards in Son Heung-min and Kim Shin-wook who have over 100 appearances between them. Eyeing up a move in the summer, he has the chance to truly become a well-known young starlet this summer.
1. Sardar Azmoun – striker (Iran)
You may have actually heard a lot about this man recently but when he is touted as the “Iranian Messi” and targeted by a huge number of clubs around the world, it is simply hard to ignore the Rubin Kazan man’s potential. Although he has just 4 goals in 25 appearances domestically, he boasts an incredible 23 goals in 31 national caps in under 4 years. Outshining his aforementioned compatriot who plays behind him most of the time, this 23 year-old has a big tournament ahead of him.
Do you agree or disagree with these picks? Let us know.