Sunday , August 14 2022

The AFC Champions League 2022 Group Stage Stats Leaders: Forwards!

Over the past few weeks, has highlighted the standout goalkeepers, defenders and midfielders from the AFC Champions League 2022 group stage, and now it’s the turn of those whose job it is to score the goals: the forwards.

To select the star performers up front, we’ve reflected on the match data from the group stage to draw up a statistics-based approach to present those that shone brightest.

Here are eight forwards who delivered the goods for their respective sides.

Edmilson Junior – Al Duhail SC
· 8 goals scored (#1 in the group stage)
· 32 shots, 15 shots on target (#1 in the group stage)
· 3 assists (Joint #1 by a forward)

Arguably the standout performer of the whole group stage, Edmilson Junior scored eight goals in six matches to lead the way in the scoring charts. The Belgian netted a hat-trick against Pakhtakor and braces against Al Taawoun and Sepahan to help Al Duhail recover from an opening-day defeat to progress to the last 16 with five wins from six.

Edmilson also posted a tournament-leading 32 shots and 15 shots on target, while his three assists is the joint-highest among forwards in the group stage. The 24 chances he created sees him in pole position in that category, too, in what was an outstanding group stage.

Bergson – Johor Darul Ta’zim
· 6 goals scored (Joint #2 in the group stage)
· 25 shots (#3 in the group stage)
· 74 minutes per goal

There was drama in southern Malaysia as Johor Darul Ta’zim stunned continental giants Ulsan Hyundai and Kawasaki Frontale to advance to the knockout rounds for the first time. At the heart of their magical group stage was Brazilian forward Bergson, who scored six goals in five games to cement his place in JDT history.

The 31-year-old chalked up five goals in a pair of wins over Guangzhou FC, but it was his fabulous Matchday Two winner against two-time champions Ulsan that was his most telling contribution as it produced the giant-killing that gave the team and their supporters the belief they could progress from perhaps the toughest of all the groups.

Carlos Junior – Al Shabab
· 5 goals scored
· 19 shots
· 67 minutes per goal

After a six-year hiatus, Al Shabab enjoyed a fine return to AFC Champions League action, with Carlos Junior spearheading a forward line that scored the second-highest tally of goals (18) in the group stage, of which the Brazilian striker netted five despite playing just four of his side’s six games.

The 26-year-old scored doubles in wins over Al Jazira and Air Force Club, as well as a goal in a big victory over Mumbai City, as he found the back of the net once every 67 minutes to help the Riyadh club claim five wins from six and advance to the knockout rounds with an unbeaten record.

Yohan Boli – Al Rayyan SC
· 4 goals scored
· 10 shots on target
· 44 duels won (#3 by a forward)

It has been a historical campaign for Al Rayyan so far as, at the 11th time of asking, the Qatari team finally made it out of the group stage. Ivorian striker Yohan Boli can take plenty of credit for helping them do so because not only did he find the back of the net four times, he did so at crucial stages of his side’s campaign.

Two poacher’s goals secured an opening-day win over FC Istiklol before a last-minute free-kick winner against the same opponents on Matchday Five gave his side hope ahead of their final game against defending champions Al Hilal. The 28-year-old was then on-hand once more when it mattered most, scoring the second in a 2-0 win as Al Rayyan ended a 17-year wait to reach the knockout rounds.

Zeca – Daegu FC
· 6 goals scored (Joint #2 in the group stage)
· 27 shots, 13 shots on target (#2 in the group stage)
· 49 touches in the opposition box (#1 in the group stage)

A hat-trick against a youthful Shandong Taishan side marked a dream AFC Champions League debut for Daegu FC’s new Brazilian recruit Zeca, who, in the absence of countryman Cesinha, was instrumental in helping the K League 1 side advance to the knockout rounds for the first time in three attempts.

But there were more telling contributions, notably a match-winning header in a 1-0 victory over Urawa Red Diamonds and a late penalty that secured a 2-1 win against Lion City Sailors which saw his side top Group F. A tournament-leading 49 touches in the opposition penalty area is indication Daegu’s Round of 16 opponents Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors will need to keep a watchful eye on the striker in the box.

Federico Cartabia – Shabab Al Ahli Dubai
· 5 goals scored, 10 shots
· 50% shot conversion (#1 in the group stage of players with a minimum of 10 shots)
· 78% shooting accuracy

Another player who popped up with vital goals in key moments was Shabab Al Ahli Dubai’s Argentine forward Federico Cartabia, who scored five times from just 10 shots as he posted a hugely impressive 50 percent shot conversion rate and hit the target just under 80 percent of the time.

Incredibly, Cartabia scored stoppage-time equalisers against Foolad Khouzestan and Al Gharafa on Matchdays Two and Three, while his brace in a 2-1 Matchday Five victory against Ahal FC ensured the 29-year-old’s goals contributed directly to five of Shabab Al Ahli’s 10 points as the Emirati side advanced to the last 16.

Yu Kobayashi – Kawasaki Frontale
· 4 goals scored
· 11 shots on target (#3 by a forward)
· 2 assists (Joint #3 by a forward)

While it was a campaign to forget for J1 League champions Kawasaki Frontale, who again failed to hit the heights expected on the continent, their veteran captain Yu Kobayashi’s numbers did not disappoint as he scored four goals from just three starts in Group I.

The 34-year-old bagged braces in wins over Guangzhou FC and Johor Darul Ta’zim, while his 11 shots on target was the third-highest tally among forwards in the group stage and his two assists was bettered by just two other forwards.

Michael Olunga – Al Duhail SC
· 4 goals scored
· 19 shots
· 2 assists (Joint #3 by a forward)

Michael Olunga may not have hit the scoring heights of the 2021 campaign, when his nine goals in the group stage proved enough to earn him the Top Scorer award despite Al Duhail exiting at the first hurdle, but the Kenyan still more than played his part this time round.

Olunga scored four goals in five games, including the winner against Sepahan on Matchday Two and a double against the same opponents on Matchday Six, while there was also a pair of assists to boot. The numbers may not be as eye-catching as a year ago, but this time his side are into the knockout rounds and he is likely to be among the most feared strikers still in the competition.

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