Andres Iniesta, Ki Sung-yueng among top players to watch in ACL East Zone return

With the AFC Champions League's West Zone decided, the East Zone teams will now vie for a place in the tournament's finals.

The coronavirus epidemic ground the AFC Champions League to halt for eight months, but the tournament is now set to resume on Wednesday with a packed schedule of 40 matches to take place over the next month.

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As ever, each team's prospects can potentially be decided by a single individual, so here are five players to watch.

Andres Iniesta (Vissel Kobe)

Arguably the biggest name in Asian football at the moment, Andres Iniesta's capture from Barcelona was a huge coup for J1 League outfit Vissel Kobe, and he made an instant impact by guiding them to the Emperor's Cup last year -- the first major silverware in the club's history.

While they were expected to challenge for top honours this season, star-studded Vissel are currently languishing 11th in the league, 33 points behind leaders Kawasaki Frontale.

Salvation could come in this tournament and, in Iniesta, they have a world-class playmaker who has the ability to carve apart even the best defences in Asia.

Jaja Coelho (Chiangrai United)

In their debut Champions League campaign, Thailand's Chiangrai United have so far lost both matches 1-0. The results suggest they are not far off from hanging with the continent's best teams, but could use some reinforcement to put them over the top.

The Beetles hope to address the issue with the recent addition of Brazilian striker Jaja Coelho, who counts Feyenoord and Getafe among his former employers but also has a host of experience playing in Asia.

The 34-year-old memorably netted 37 goals in 38 games for Buriram United in 2017. His experience and his eye for the goal could be what Chiangrai need to convert narrow losses into points on the board.

Ki Sung-yueng (FC Seoul)

Having returned to his boyhood club FC Seoul earlier this year after 11 years in Europe, ex-South Korea captain Ki Sung-yueng has taken time to rediscover his footing and this tournament offers him the perfect platform to show he still has plenty left.

In his prime, he was a dynamic box-to-box presence for Celtic and Swansea City and -- at the age of 31 -- can still offer Seoul plenty.

Having won their opening game against Melbourne Victory, Seoul have reason to be optimistic in their prospects and a fully-fit Ki will come as a huge boost.

Rhyan Grant (Sydney FC)

Full-backs do not often get the limelight but, then again, Rhyan Grant is not the average defender.

The Australia international has spent his entire professional career with Sydney FC, establishing himself as a mainstay in the starting XI and virtually making the entire right wing his own, allowing those ahead of him to drift into more central positions.

Grant is also coming off the back of a man-of-the-match display in the most-recent A-League Grand Final, where he scored a 100th-minute winning goal as Sydney beat Melbourne City to claim a record fourth domestic title.

Anderson Talisca (Guangzhou Evergrande)

There were times in the Champions League last year when Anderson Talisca looked like he could single-handedly carry Guangzhou Evergrande to the title, but there were also moments where his influence was negated by injuries and a slump in form.

At his best, the Brazilian is a key component of a devastating Evergrande attack that also boasts Elkeson and Paulinho.

Having recently lost the Chinese Super League decider to Jiangsu Suning, Talisca and his Evergrande teammates will be looking to make amends by setting their sights on a third ACL crown.