June was a special month for Asian football, with five AFC members taking place in the 2018 FIFA World Cup where they wowed fans across the world.
Because so many domestic leagues were on break as a result of the World Cup as well as the Eid holiday, Football Tribe’s staff decided that June 2018’s XI would be a special one, combining Asia’s best players at the World Cup as well as the best players from active leagues in Asia.
Who made our final list of 11 players and who was named our Asian Player of the Month? Click through to find out!
Goalkeeper: Cho Hyun-woo (South Korea)
Is any explanation needed? South Korea's World Cup star managed to keep a clean sheet against Germany and lead the team's historic 2-0 victory. His nickname is "Dae Gea," after his club "Daegu" and Manchester United's DavidDe Gea, but his performance in Russia was indeed better than the real De Gea, with a 81.8% saving rate from 13 saves.
Defender: Nattaporn Phanrit (Navy)
The 36-year-old center back used his experience to help Navy, who before June appeared to have no hope of remaining in the Thai League 1 and faced a difficult schedule. Instead they managed wins over Chonburi fc, Bangkok Glass and Pattaya United, conceding just three goals thanks to superb performances by Nattaporn at just the right time.
Defender: Gen Shoji (Japan)
The Kashima Antlers centre-back had a fantastic World Cup campaign which has already earned him interest from European clubs such as . The only J.Leaguer who was good enough to make Akira Nishino's starting XI.
Defender: Kim Young-gwon (South Korea)
Made up for criticism that has dogged him since his controversial comments about crowd noise in the team's qualifier draw against Iran last year. Kim was as solid as rock against tough opponents in Group F, resulting in South Korea conceding only three goals. He also scored a goal in the team's historic win against Germany and has drawn attention from European clubs.
Midfielder: Omid Ebrahimi (Iran)
Eyebrows a'plenty were raised when an injured Ebrahimi was selected by Carlos Queiroz for Team Melli's final World Cup squad, but he proved that he was up for the task in three terrific starts against a group that was widely believed to be one of the most difficult of the tournament.
Midfielder: Gaku Shibasaki (Japan)
Established himself as the heir to Samurai Blue legend Yasuhito Endo at central midfield with great vision and effort on both sides of the ball. Created or otherwise participated in many of Japan's attacking chances; fans in Europe could soon see him playing in the Champions League if some reports are to be believed.
Midfielder: Riko Simanjuntak (Persija)
Riko been superb for Persija in June, despite missing training due to a national team call-up late in the month. Even though he just scored one goal and one assist, he was the key factor in Persija's brilliance last month as they went undefeated in three matches before the Eid break.
Midfielder: Le Sy Minh (Nam Dinh FC)
Le Sy Minh was one of the best players in the V-League last month, scoring three goals to help Nam Dinh FC move out of relegation zone with four unbeaten matches. He is one of the best free-kick specialists in the league this season.
ASIAN PLAYER OF THE MONTH
Midfielder: Takashi Inui (Japan)
After entering the World Cup in great form by scoring twice against Paraguay in Japan's final pre-World Cup friendly, Inui dominated for Japan by scoring two golazos against Senegal and Belgium to become the Samurai Blue's standout attacker of the tournament.
Forward: Nguyen Van Toan (HAGL)
Van Toan scored three goals in June to help HAGL earn 4 points. While the team has struggled to find quality foreign players, Van Toan has more than made up for it by becoming their key attacker.
Forward: Son Heung-min (South Korea)
Korea's ace led the team with two goals in their World Cup campaign. Though one might blame Neuer entirely for Son's goal against Germany, he deserves plenty of credit for beating a high offside trap and running at a speed of 32.83km/hour after playing for 90 minutes. It was a brilliant move with strong concentration from one of Asia's best.
Who else deserved inclusion in June's Asia XI? Let us know on social media and stay tuned for next month's edition!