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Asia's best: Omar Abdulrahman

Ashwani Kumar/Abu Dhabi
Filed on December 2, 2016
Asias best: Omar Abdulrahman
Omar Abdulrahman receiving his award.

(Ryan Lim)

Al Ain star wins AFC Asian Player of the Year award

The nation is in high spirits. The UAE celebrates 45 years of achievement on Friday and UAE star and Al Ain FC's talisman Omar Abdulrahman has given the country one more reason to rejoice.

Abdulrahman was named the AFC Men's Player of the Year at a glittering awards ceremony at the Emirates Palace on Thursday.

Even though he pipped Iraq's Hammadi Ahmed and Wu Lei from China, the Al Ain 'magician' wasn't a satisfied man. "My main objective was to win the AFC Champions League."

The Emirati star has already set his aim for next year. "I want to retain this trophy - be the best player in Asia again." "Also, I want to win trophies next year," said a disappointed player, who had given his heart and soul for the country and club. Unfortunately, the rub of the green didn't go his way - Arabian Gulf League, President's Cup and AFC Champions League titles - all three were up for grabs but remained only a dream. "According to statistics, this is my best year as an individual. However, looking at the team's performance we didn't win anything this year. I would like to correct that next year."

He, for sure, doesn't like to be second best.

When told he was beaten to the 2015 award by compatriot Ahmed Khalil, Abdulrahman shot back: "Last year, I didn't lose. The award went to my brother. This trophy is not only for me but for my colleagues in Al Ain and national team." This is second year in a row that the UAE players have been named the best in Asia.

"Yes, this proves the UAE has good talented players and we can win this again next year." Amoory has truly set his heart on this trophy. The UAE remain in contention for a place in the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia. Also, he was named the Most Valuable Player after the AFC Champions League final.

When asked if he would like to play in leagues in Europe, he said: "Every player has dreams of playing in Europe. If I get a good offer I wouldn't mind it but Al Ain FC are a big team." There was also a personal reason to cheer for 'Amoory'. "I saw my father happy. It was more important than any award and everything I do is dedicated to the family."

Meanwhile, Australian Caitlin Foord bagged the best woman player award. "I am very honoured. This is on behalf of the national team," she said while thanking her mum too. Foord became the second player after China's Ma Xiaoxu to receive both the youth and best player award.

"This is a massive achievement. I was very young then. Now when I look back at 2011 award, I feel very honoured and privileged," the Australian, who hurt her leg, said.

AFC president Shaikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa hailed the leaders of the UAE and growth in football in the region. "Last 12 months have seen many achievements made by Asian countries. These are exciting times."

The award night started with presentation to Confederation of African Federation president Issa Hayatou. He was named the AFC Diamond of Asia for his extraordinary reforms made in the African continent. "We will work hard to continue this exemplary partnership," he said referring to relationship shared with the AFC.

The best women coach of the year was Chan Yuen Ting of Hong Kong. She manages Eastern Sports Club and is the first female manager to lead a men's association football team in nation's top domestic division to a league championship. Choi Kang-Hee from Korea was adjudged the best coach. He led Jeonbuk to AFC Champions League title.

Qatar Football Association bagged the AFC Dream Asia Award. In the three AFC Member Association of the Year awards, Japan Football Association was named the 'Inspiring' nation, All India Football Federation the 'Developing' member association. And lastly, Bhutan Football Federation picked the 'Aspiring' member association.

The UAE Football Association, too, was in the running for the AFC Member Association of the Year 'Inspiring' category.

AFC President Recognition Award for Grassroots Football is a special initiative by Shaikh Salman to recognise member associations for their efforts to promote the sport. Brunei Darussalam National Football Association won in the 'Aspiring' category, the Philippines Football Federation got named the 'Developing' and in the 'Inspiring' section, it was Football federation of Australia.


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