The 2018 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Annual Awards ceremony, which was graced by H H Sayyid Shihab bin Tariq al Said, Advisor to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, saw Qatar's Abdelkarim Hassan clinch the 2018 AFC Men's Player of the Year award while China’s Wang Shuang claimed the top honours in the women’s category.
Hassan, the Al Sadd’s 25 year old leftback, played a key role in his club's progress to the AFC Champions League semis and runner-up finish in the 2017-18 Qatar Stars League season.
After receiving the award from the AFC president, Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al Khalifa, Hassan said, “The true heroes are my teammates both for club and country. This award is added motivation for us to give our best each time we enter the field. And I must also thank our fans who continue to serve as an inspiration for all of us.”
Wang, who joined her illustrious China compatriots Ma Xiaoxu and Bai Jie in winning the award, said, “I would like to thank the AFC for this remarkable award. It really means a lot to win this. I want to thank my country, the Chinese Football Association and my national teammates for putting their faith in me and always encouraging me to dream big.”
AFC chief Sheikh Salman said, “We celebrate and applaud all our winners tonight who have work tirelessly to raise the bar each year. Asian football continues to attain world-class achievements, and this is a testament to our players, teams and member associations.
“We congratulate them all and all those nominated, and we thank our hosts, the Oman Football Association (OFA), and the Omani government for staging a truly memorable celebration in this wonderful city of Muscat.”
Kashima Antlers’ Go Oiwa who guided his side to its maiden AFC Champions League title earlier this month was duly rewarded with the 2018 AFC Men’s Coach of the Year award.
AFC Women’s Asian Cup Jordan 2018 winning coach Asako Takakura confirmed her legendary status in women’s football with her sixth AFC Women’s Coach of the Year award.
Iran’s status as a global force in world futsal was further underlined after Ali Asghar Hasanzadeh, who was part of the Iran side which finished third in the 2016 FIFA Futsal World Cup, landed his fourth AFC Futsal Player of the Year accolade.
Former AFC Acting President Zhang Jilong was bestowed with the Continent’s highest accolade – the AFC Diamond of Asia Award – in recognition for his incredible service and leadership over the last four decades to Chinese and Asian football.
Earlier, at the start of the evening, Sheikh Salman presented an AFC memento to H H Sayyid Shihab. He also felicitated H E Sheikh Saad al Saadi, the Minister of Sports Affairs, and Sheikh Salim al Wahaibi, the OFA chief.
Other awardees: AFC President’s Special Recognition Award: Futoshi Ikeda (Japan), Wild Boars FC (Thailand). AFC Member Association of the Year: Inspiring: Japan, Developing: North Korea, Aspiring: Mongolia.
AFC President Recognition Award for Grassroots football: Inspiring Member Association: Chinese Football Association, Developing: Football Association of Singapore, Aspiring: Palestine Football Association Awards not presented in Muscat: AFC Referees Special Award: Alireza Faghani, Reza Sokhandan, Mohammadreza Mansouri (all from Iran).
AFC Youth Player of the Year: Women: Saori Takarada (Japan), Men: Turki al Amar (Saudi Arabia).
AFC Asian International Player of the Year: Makoto Hasebe (Eintracht Frankfurt and Japan).