November 15, 2019 / 5:29 AM / 23 days ago

Soccer: Qatar's Afif named in AFC player of the year shortlist

Soccer Football - 2022 World Cup Qualifier Round 2 - Group E - Qatar v Oman - Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah, Qatar - October 15, 2019 Qatar's Akram Afif celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Ibraheem Al Omari

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Qatar forward Akram Afif has been named in a three-man shortlist for the Asian Football Confederation’s men’s player of the year after helping the side win their maiden Asian Cup title this year, the continental governing body said on Friday.

The 22-year-old Villarreal player is on loan at Al Sadd and was instrumental in helping the Qatari club reach the AFC Champions League semi-finals this season.

Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand and Japan defender Tomoaki Makino were the other nominations in the men’s category for the annual awards, which will be given out in Hong Kong on Dec. 2.

“Afif is arguably Asia’s brightest prospect and he burst onto the scene at the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 where he produced 10 assists – the most in the tournament’s history,” the AFC said in a statement.

Makino helped Japan reach their fifth Asian Cup final this year while his form at Urawa Red Diamonds saw them keep six clean sheets on their way to the AFC Champions League final against Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal.

China striker Li Ying, the top scorer in last year’s AFC Women’s Asian Cup, India’s Ashalata Devi Loitongbam and Japan captain Saki Kumagai were the nominees in the women’s category.

The shortlist for the men’s coach of the year featured Urawa’s Tsuyoshi Otsuki, Kashima Antlers boss Go Oiwa as well as South Korea’s U20 coach Chung Jung-yong.

Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Peter Rutherford

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