Saudi Arabia winger Salem Al-Dawsari and Australia striker Samantha Kerr were named Asian Football Confederation (AFC) players of the year at a glitzy ceremony in Doha on Tuesday.
Al-Dawsari, who won the accolade of best men’s player, thanked his teammates, fans and family at the annual awards held this year in the Qatari capital.
“I thank my father, my mother and my teachers in life, and I also thank my wife and my sons and daughters,” Al-Dawasari, who plays for Saudi Pro League Team Al Hilal said.
The player also thanked political leadership in the Gulf monarchy which is all but certain to host the 2034 FIFA World Cup following the withdrawal of Australia, the only other contender for the tournament, on Tuesday.
The Saudi player, who clinched the winning goal in his team’s upset win against Argentina in the 2022 World Cup, fought off competition from Australia’s Mathew Leckie and Qatar’s Almoez Ali to win AFC Male Player of the Year.
Kerr, who also won the women’s AFC Player of the Year award in 2017, had vied with nominees, China’s Zhang Linyan and Japan’s Saki Kumagai to win the women’s accolade.
“It’s been an amazing year for me and my team and I just want to thank all my teammates, my coaches, my family and friends. It’s been amazing,” the Chelsea player and all-time Australia top goal scorer said as she accepted the award in a video message.
The annual awards ceremony, which had been due to be held in Qatar in 2020, returned after a four-year hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The gas-rich Gulf state, which hosted the 2022 World Cup, is to host the confederation’s upcoming Asian Cup beginning in January.
The tiny emirate has said the Asian Cup will be held across nine stadiums including seven that are a legacy of the World Cup held almost exactly one year ago.
“The AFC is delighted to be able to bring the Asian football family together in the stunning city of Doha,” AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa said.
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