Asian Cup team of the tournament
Japan have been crowned champions of Asia following a dramatic 1-0 win over Australia on Saturday, but how many of the Blue Samurai make it into ESPNsoccernet's team of the tournament?
GK: Mark Schwarzer (Australia)
Fulham fans may or may not be pleased to hear that their goalkeeper has been the best in the tournament with barely a hand or foot placed wrong. The veteran conceded just two goals in 600 minutes of football and he could do nothing about either. Australia are so hard to beat for Asian teams and the big man between the sticks has to take much credit for that. And breaking his country's appearances record in the final of the Asian Cup? Well, that just makes it all the more impressive.
RB: Cha Du-Ri (South Korea)
What have the Scottish done to Cha Du-Ri? In and out of the national team ever since 2002 without seriously impressing, Cha played the best football of his international career in Qatar. The former winger delighted his many fans at home and struck fear into the hearts of left-sided players all over Asia, who will wake up sweating for months to come in fear of the player known as 'The Chaminator'. His past life as a winger has been in evidence in January, especially in the group stage as the Celtic star marauded down the flanks, and he was perhaps the most physically imposing figure that Australia have come across since joining Asia. As everyone knows, his father is the legendary Cha Bum-Keun but if junior keeps playing like this, that fact will be mentioned less and less.
CB: Odil Ahmedov (Uzbekistan)
Perhaps it is the fact that the 23 year-old is usually found in midfield that he looked so cultured in the middle of the Uzbek backline. It was refreshing to a see the fresh-faced star so comfortable on the ball in defence and so reluctant to give it away. The fact that he scored two genuine screamers at vital times in the competition was the icing on the cake. It all fell apart a little against Australia in the semi-final but that was one of those nights. Has so far resisted the big-money on offer at Tashkent city rivals Bunyodkor and has sights on different destinations.
CB: Lucas Neill (Australia)
'Too old and too slow' went the refrain before the tournament, but Lucas Neill was a rock at the back for his country. It is difficult to choose between the captain and his partner Ognenovski but while Sasa was very good, Neill was great. Gone was the brash talk of 2007 and instead were a series of performances in which he marshalled the best defence of the tournament. There was the occasional wobble, there always is, but it is how you deal with those wobbles that wins tournaments, and Neill played a huge part in Australia coming so close to success.
LB: Yuto Nagatomo (Japan)
In the past, the 24 year-old wasn't universally admired at home but across Asia and now Europe, his talents are increasingly appreciated. The former FC Tokyo left back has been going from strength to strength since joining Cesena in Italy last summer. He never stops and gets forward to often devastating effect - just at look the winning goal in the final and Japan's first against South Korea in the semi-final, one of the goals of the tournament. His performances have been all the more impressive when you consider the absences in the middle of the Japanese defence. His confidence is growing after his spell at the World Cup and career in Italy and at the age of 24, he is only going to get better.
RW: Shinji Kagawa (Japan)
The Borussia Dortmund star was injured for the final. That was a shame for all concerned as, at times, he was a shining light in the Japanese team. He carried Japan through their quarter-final against Qatar with two goals and he would have got the all-important third in the last minute had he not been fouled in the penalty area on three separate occasions. After defeating Australia in the final, his team-mates held aloft Kagawa's shirt as they stood on the podium, as well they might.
MF: Makoto Hasebe (Japan)
The Japan captain is sometimes overlooked when it comes to Asian stars in Europe but he is not the kind of personality to worry about that. Hasebe rarely makes the headlines but focuses on his job in the middle of the park for Wolfsburg and has become the leader of the pack for Japan. The former Urawa Red is so aware of what is going on around him and with the passing skills to match his vision, he can be a joy to watch. His diagonal pass in the final seconds to set up the winning goal against Qatar was one of the moments of the tournament.
MF: Koo Ja-Cheol (South Korea)
If the tournament had ended a week or so earlier then Koo would probably already be in Europe preparing for the second half of the season. Perhaps if he hadn't scored the five goals that earned him the golden boot then Korea could have gone home earlier. The Jeju United man excelled playing just behind the sole striker but is more accustomed to a central role from which he can show his finishing abilities. Stuttgart and Bolton Wanderers are already reported to be interested in the player who was linked to Blackburn Rovers a year ago.
LW: Park Ji-Sung (South Korea)
The Manchester United man showed his class in what will be his last ever tournament on the international stage. He has been in fine form in England this season and carried on in the Middle East where he left off in the North West. His movement, passing and control were a joy to watch and once again, he was an inspiration and a leader to a very young team. Park came within a penalty shootout of a place in the final, which would have been a fitting end to one of the most glittering careers ever enjoyed by an Asian player.
AM: Keisuke Honda (Japan)
There hasn't been the same sense of spectacle about Honda's performances in this competition, understandably so as he exploded on to the global stage in the 2010 World Cup. He has been a little more understated in Qatar, depriving headline writers around Asia of their usual automobile-related headlines, but the player steadily moved up through the gears during the tournament. A little dink over the Qatari defence to set up an equaliser here, a lovely little pass through the Korean right flank to set up an equaliser there - these were the ways in which the CSKA Moscow man made his mark and showed his class.
FW- Harry Kewell (Australia)
It may come as quite a surprise to Liverpool fans but Kewell played all six of Australia's matches in the past three weeks. It won't come as a surprise to Leeds fans that he played them very well. This wasn't quite the whippersnapper of old but an intelligent attacker who reads the game as well as anybody at the tournament. He scored goals - the 117th-minute winner against Iraq in the quarter-final springs to mind - made goals and always gave the Socceroos an outlet. The only black mark was a couple of missed chances in the final. Since Australia joined the AFC in 2006, Asian fans have wondered what the fuss was when it came to Kewell - they don't anymore
Substitutes: Amer Shafi (Jordan), Atsuto Uchida (Japan), Sasa Ognenovski (Australia), Gholamreza Rezaei (Iran), Server Djeparov (Uzbekistan), Bassim Abbas (Iraq), Abdelrazaq Al Hussain (Syria), Matt McKay (Australia), Ki Sung-Yong (South Korea), Alexander Geynrikh (Uzbekistan), Yusef Ali (Qatar).
Coach: It has to be Japan's Alberto Zaccheroni. After a slow start, the Italian kept faith with his team and soon had them playing some excellent football. The fact that Japan were able to recover from going a goal down on three occasions and twice having men sent off was in no small part down to the influence of the former AC Milan and Juventus boss. His tactical switch in the final that swung the game Japan's way was the perfect end for the man who has never worked outside Italy before.