Sunday , August 14 2022

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

After the conclusion of the AFC Champions League 2022 group stage in early May, looks back on some of the standout displays from those involved in order to find out the stats leaders from the first round. We begin with the goalkeepers.

To select the candidates for each position, we have reflected on match data from the group stage to draw up a statistics-based approach to present the outstanding performers.

We kick things off with five standout goalkeepers.

Fawaz Al Qarni – Al Shabab
· 6 appearances, 1 goal conceded (Joint #1 for goalkeepers)
· 4 clean sheets (Joint #1 for goalkeepers)
· 90.9% save percentage (#2 for goalkeepers)

While much of the attention on Saudi side Al Shabab’s group stage campaign may be focused on their goals scored (18), averaging three per game and bettered only by Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds, their goals conceded column (1) is the most miserly of all.

Although 30-year-old Fawaz Al Qarni was not as involved as other ‘keepers on this list given the dominance of Al Shabab’s forward line in their Group B fixtures, whenever he was called into action he proved near unbreachable.

Indeed, Al Qarni would have had a tournament-leading five clean sheets to boast, too, if he had not been substituted in the second half to give back-up custodian Hussain Al Shai’an a runout with his side 4-0 up against Mumbai City FC.

Oh Seung-hoon – Daegu FC
· 4 appearances, 1 goal conceded (Joint #1 for goalkeepers)
· 3 clean sheets (Joint #2 for goalkeepers)
· 91.7% save percentage (#1 for goalkeepers)

While Oh Seung-hoon did not make as many appearances as Al Qarni, playing four of Daegu FC’s six Group F ties, he featured and excelled in the key games that were the difference between the Koreans advancing to the Round of 16 and facing elimination.

What makes Oh’s numbers particularly impressive is that two of his three clean sheets came against Urawa, the top-scoring team in the group stage. Averaging a formidable five goals per game against their other opponents, Urawa were blanked both times by Oh, who made eight saves in total.

Indeed, such was Oh’s importance to the team that in one of the two games he didn’t feature, his replacement Choi Young-eun conceded three times to Lion City Sailors. Oh was swiftly brought back for the crucial return meeting as Daegu saw out the victory that ensured they won the group.

Shahab Gordan – Foolad FC
· 6 appearances, 2 goals conceded
· 4 clean sheets (Joint #1 for goalkeepers)
· 88.9% save percentage (#3 for goalkeepers)

If Oh and Al Qarni were not always the most called-upon by their teams, the same cannot be said for Foolad FC’s Shabab Gordan, who made 16 saves from his six appearances, the most of any in our list.

And unlike the aforementioned duo, Gordan did not have the buffer of a free-scoring attack to give him a margin for error. Foolad scored just five goals as they claimed the top spot in Group C, so their defensive diligence and Gordan’s goalkeeping excellence were fundamental.

The vastly experienced 38-year-old custodian, who finished as a runner-up in the 2010 AFC Champions League with Zobahan FC, will hope to continue along a similar vein next year when the Road of 16 (West) returns.

Kittipong Phoothawchuek – BG Pathum United
· 6 appearances, 2 goals conceded
· 4 clean sheets (Joint #1 for goalkeepers)
· 86.7% save percentage

Gordan may have pulled off the most saves, but Kittipong Phoothawchuek of BG Pathum United was just as busy with his all-round game. The Thai ‘keeper boasts impressive stats in terms of saves, clean sheets and goals conceded but was also fancy with his feet.

Kittipong made more accurate keeper sweepings (4) than his peers in the list, while his successful distribution from goal kicks (43) was nine more than the next closest custodian, Al Qarni of Al Shabab.

Rather than excel in one specific game, the 32-year-old showed remarkable consistency across all six ties in which he featured, a feat all the more impressive given he was standing in for first-choice goalkeeper Chatchai Budprom.

Lee Bum-soo – Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors
· 4 appearances, 2 goals conceded
· 3 clean sheets (Joint #2 for goalkeepers)
· 84.6% save percentage

Like Kittipong, Lee Bum-soo is more used to finding himself second choice in the domestic league for Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors but during the 2022 AFC Champions League group stage, he took his chance in the spotlight with both hands, outshining teammate and team number one Song Bum-keun.

Lee’s save percentage, clean sheets and saves all compare favourably to Song’s and it is no surprise that head coach Kim Sang-sik opted to use the older custodian as the last line of defence in four of Jeonbuk’s six Group H fixtures.

Kim is now left with a difficult decision to choose which of his ‘keepers will take the gloves in next month’s Round of 16 tie against Daegu FC, but he will be confident knowing that should he select Lee, the 31-year-old will be up to the task.

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