After yesterday’s preview it’s time to look at the player that hopefully will be dazzling us with their ability over the next four weeks. So here are ten players to watch out for, some of them I highly recommend, some of them I will be watching out for myself. Usually a bad sign when you get recommended on this site.

Ki Sung-Yueng – Korea Republic

When you mention the Korea Republic people automatically mention Park Ji-Sung of Manchester United and Park Chu-Young of Monaco however one of the most impressive players in Korea’s team is Celtic’s Ki Sung-Yueng. Only 21 years old and he has 21 caps for his country and four World Cup appearances.

After a tough first year at Celtic Park Ki returned from South Africa and was full of confidence, after a slow start he has made his way into the team and before leaving for Qatar he has become a first team regular. He has impressed the Parkhead faithful with his quality of passing, and calmness on the ball. He was named Young Player of the Month for October and it says a lot when Celtic fans now think they will miss him of the month of January.

Very impressive at the World Cup he was the lynchpin of most of Korea’s excellent passing football, also deadly from set-pieces he set up the first goal as Korea went on to brush aside Greece in their opening game. Growing in stature with every passing moment big things are expected from Ki.

Thomas Oar – Australia

A replacement in the Australia squad for Richard Garcia due to injury Thomas is a relevant unknown but has done enough in his young career to make a few people sit up and take notice.

Signing for FC Utrecht in March he has only made a handful of appearances, most memorably he came on with 20 minutes to go at Anfield in the Europa League tie against Liverpool, making a sudden impact he had commentators purring over his cameo.

It was the same when he started his career in Australia, after signing for the Brisbane Roar back in 2008 it only took him two games to open his account, playing against the Wellington Phoenix his 91st minute free-kick was the match winner.

Playing on the left wing, the references to “the next Harry Kewell” are made often. Thomas does possess a fantastic left foot but he can also use his right to devastating effect. It is no wonder Utrecht were quick to snap him up. One for the future for sure.

Ahmad Ayad – Iraq

Anyone known as the Iraqi Messi has to be worth a watch. A 19 year old winger from Baghdad currently playing his football for Persija Jakarta in Indonesia, with a very impressive record from his days in Iraq he is certainly one to watch. 35 goals in 84 games for Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya.

Not much else is known about Ahmad this tournament could be the ideal place for him to add to his 15 caps and make a statement to the watching world. He certainly is one to watch; at 17 he was named the Iraq Super League MVP by a fan vote.

Yuto Nagatomo – Japan

Nagamoto stood out during Japan’s run in the World Cup his constant runs down the left from his full back position were very impressive, naturally right footed he has the ability to cut inside and unleash some very dangerous shots.

Got his big move to Serie A after the tournament and has been playing for minnows A.C Cesena on loan from FC Tokyo. It has been a quick progression for the 24 year old. A member of the 2008 Olympic team he was then named in the J-League’s rookies of the year. Arsene Wenger then named him in his best XI of the World Cup.

His defensive abilities are not as good as his attacking side. Much more comfortable when going forward, this tournament will surely give him the chance to express that side even more.

Talal Al-Bloushi – Qatar

This one is a little bit of a long shot. After the World Cup was awarded to Qatar the world wanted to know more about this unknown quantity. One of the most common things people found was this video.

Ladies and Gentleman we present Talal Al-Bloushi of Qatari club Al-Sadd, with tens of thousands of people watching the video and laughing at this unknown player, surely he could now go on to have a fantastic tournament.

At only 24 he already has 64 caps for his country and four goals from midfield. He must have some ability to play so many times for someone so young, now is the time for Talal to come up with some new reasons for people to watch his videos on YouTube.

Hao Junmin – China

Probably best known so far in Europe for handing over the #7 jersey when Schalke signed Raul from Real Madrid. It could have been an awkward situation but Hao grew up a huge Raul fan so there was no issue.

His chances at Schalke have been limited so far this season, only three appearances to date. He will relish the chance to get on the field and show the World what he has to offer. Chinese Young player of the year in 2005 and 2007 Hao has obvious ability. Able to finish with both feet, good on the ball, obvious pace, he can also be a danger from set-pieces.

At the young age of 23 there is plenty of time to add to his 28 caps, and he will be eager to add to his national teams goal tally, only one of his six goals have come in a competitive match.

Sunil Chhetri – India

Sunil is a strange but very interesting player, after playing in numerous teams around India he had an unsuccessful trial at Coventry City this was sparked by a hat-trick for India in the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup.

With 40 caps and 19 goals for his country he is an experienced international player although he has still to do anything of note outside of India. He signed for the Kansas City Wizards in March of 2010, yet to play in the MLS his first appearance came against the Colorado Rapids in a cup match, he was removed at half-time and picked up a yellow card.

His next appearance came against Manchester United in a friendly, he came on with 20 minutes to go as Kansas went on to win although down to 10 men. Manager Peter Vermes was quoted as saying he was impressed with Sunil’s craft, technique and his attacking tendencies.

Now aged 26 this could be his big chance to impress his club and whoever else might be watching, with no pressure on India to perform it could be the ideal situation for Sunil to turn some heads.

Ehsan Hajsafi – Iran

The most promising player in Asian football, well that’s what the reports say, Ioan Andone the Romanian manager of his club side Sepahan has said that Ehsan could make it in any European league. This 20 year old left back has the world at his feet.

Able to play at left back or further up in the midfield, with a wonderful left foot he had 13 assists last season but can also pop up with a few goals, five in all competitions last year. But unlike Gareth Bale he can move the ball to his right foot and finish just as well.

He has recently been playing in the U-23 Asian Games, Iran knocked out by Japan in he Semi-Finals. Ehsan played in all seven of Iran’s games. Now is his time to impress with the full team, very few doubt his ability.

Louay Chanko – Syria

One of Syria’s most successful footballers Louay was born in Södertälje, Sweden and has spent his career moving round various Swedish teams. His most successful moments came when he lifted the Swedish title and cup double with Djurgarden in 2002, and he lifted the title again in 2004 with Malmo.

In 2009 he moved away from Sweden and signed for AaB Aalborg in Denmark, the move seems to be a success as he has scored three goals in 47 games, not bad for a midfielder.

Born in Sweden he played for the team of his birth in 2008 in a friendly against Costa Rica, then in the same year he decided to change allegiances and made his debut for Syria in a World Cup qualifier against Kuwait and has now appeared six more times.

Deadly from set-pieces with his right foot, although he is 31 he is only one of two Syrian players to play their football in Europe and with over 250 games under his belt his experience will be vital to the Syrian team.

One other thing to note is that Aalborg fans have a song for Chanko, singing “Ya Ya Ya LOLO CHANKO Ya Ya Yeah” to the sound of Mr President’s Coco Jambo.

Naif Hazazi – Saudi Arabia

Al-Ittihad’s number 9 is one of the hottest young strikers in Asian football right now, only 21 and in three years for his club he has scored over 40 goals, now a bad return for someone so young.

His great form has continued over to the international game his goals against Iran and the UAE impressed in their World Cup qualification run. 10 goals in 13 games for his club this season, eight of them in the last ten games would have impressed Portuguese manager Jose Peseiro and should be enough to give him a starting spot for the Saudi team.

The tournament kicks off this Friday as Qatar play Uzbekistan in Doha. Eurosport are covering the game, However it seems the games will be shown recorded.

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Only 4 days now till the big kick off, and I can’t wait, every four years there are players that play great, players that don’t live up to the hype, and players that come from nowhere to entertain, and this is what makes it the greatest tournament on Earth.

I have picked out 32 players, 1 from each team that I will be keeping my eye on throughout the 4 weeks, some that are already known by everyone, some unknown, some I have never seen and can’t wait to catch them playing, for whatever reason, I hope some of those players catch your eye too, and light up South Africa for all the right reasons.

32 players all at once is too much to digest, so I will split it up into 4 days, concluding on Friday before the ceremonies begin.

GROUP A

Bernard Parker – South Africa – 29 caps (9 goals)

This 24 year old plays his club football for Dutch Champions FC Twente, played 10 games this season and failed to score, his luck has been better for the national team, scoring twice against New Zealand in the Confederations Cup on home soil, then 2 friendly goals against Thailand and Guatemala in the run up to the World Cup.

A player I have never seen, decent reports though, good pace, can play on the wing or upfront, could cause some damage to Uruguay and Mexico.

Javier Hernandez – Mexico – 12 caps (7 goals)

A player that will be watched by half of Manchester this summer, Javier recently had his Work Permit approved and officially signed for Manchester United, Only 22 years old “Fergie” could have unearthed a gem known as “Chicharito” to the eye he looks small reported at 5 foot 7, his size does not let him down, and regularly scores with his head, small and strong, quite fast, looking forward to seeing more of him.


Nicolas Lodeiro – Uruguay – 3 caps (0 goals)

Although not experience for club or country I have heard lots of good things about Nicolas, the ability to beat players with skill and pace, able to play anywhere in midfield, can use both feet but has a lethal left foot, all these reports make me excited to watch him play, wasn’t able to see any of his 5 appearances for Ajax after his January move, at only 21 he has plenty of time to make a name in the Dutch Eredivisie.

It seems to be between Nicolas and Nacho Gonzalez for the starting spot I hope to see Nicolas line up against France on June 11th.


Mathieu Valbuena – France – 2 caps (1 goal)

Maybe a bit of a surprise selection for Les Bleus for outsiders, but for me Mathieu deserves his place in the 23 man squad, great performances for Marseille in their run to the title this year, whilst people were being linked with Ben Arfa, Valbuena continued to mesmerise defenders and score goals in the process, really tricky winger, low centre of gravity and pace to burn.

He couldn’t have asked for a better International debut either coming on against Costa Rica as a sub, and 16 minutes later he had scored the winning goal, If he gets a chance to play I can see big things happening, luckily for Marseille they have him tied up till 2013.

GROUP B

Angel Di Maria – Argentina – 8 caps (1 goal)

I think like most people I have known the name for quite a while, regrettably I’ve not seen as much as I would have liked of the Argentine winger, my first memory of him is the fantastic chip over the Nigerian keeper in the 2008 Olympic Final in Beijing, a superb finish.

In the recent friendly against Canada he scored his first International goal, and he is touted to be a star of this World Cup, every transfer window he is linked with moves to all the big clubs maybe his performances will excite them to pay the €40 million minimum release fee, reports are he’s already talking of a move to Real Madrid, one to watch.


Peter Odemwingie – Nigeria – 47 caps (9 goals)

Someone who is not going to move for a massive transfer fee after the tournament, however a player I really enjoy watching, part of the Lille team that made me fall in love with them, good in the air, pace, can finish and can play anywhere on the front line, be it on the wing or as a striker, could be a name that flourishes for Nigeria, it’s unsure whether Lara Lagerback will play him, an experienced head in the team he was the captain for the 2010 African Cup of Nations when Nigeria got to the Semi-Finals.


Ki Sung-Yong – South Korea – 20 caps (4 goals)

This one is more of a personal scouting mission, signed by Celtic in August 2009 he moved in the January transfer window, and made 10 appearances, from what I’ve seen he looks a very talented player, poise on the ball, great technique and great from set-pieces, I am interested to see what he plays like for his national team, and hopefully has a good summer, ready for a push at the Celtic first-team next season.


Vasilis Torosidis – Greece – 26 caps (2 goals)

Another player that I have heard loads about and lots of good reports but never actually seen play, a major factor in Olympiakos team, can play as a fullback, centre back or this season he has been playing in central midfield also, again always linked to all the big teams could be a very good signing if the rumoured €7 million fixed fee is correct, Olympiakos may regret that after the tournament.

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