Sports / Soccer

China captain Zheng Zhi vies for Asian footballer of year again

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-11-19 00:18

China captain Zheng Zhi vies for Asian footballer of year again

China's Zheng Zhi (C) fights for the ball during the 2018 World Cup qualifying match, in Hong Kong, China November 17, 2015.[Photo/Xinhua]

KUALA LUMPUR - China skipper Zheng Zhi was again listed as the nominee of Asia's top footballer of the year as his club Guangzhou Evergrande approached AFC Champions League title for the second time in three years.

The 35-year-old midfielder had been named Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Player of the Year in 2013 when he captained Guangzhou Evergrande during the AFC Champions League title run that year.

Zheng scored the crucial goal in this year's AFC Champions League semifinal against Japan's Gamba Osaka to take the Chinese Super League giants to the final which will conclude this Saturday. He has also led Guangzhou to five straight Chinese Super League titles.

Zheng would face the challenge from Ahmed Khalil from UAE, who helped his club Al Ahli reach the final of this year's AFC Champions League against Guangzhou Evergrande.

AFC Young Player of the Year and AFC U-19 Championship MVP in 2008, Ahmed Khalil scored the fastest goal in AFC Asian Cup history by scoring only 14 seconds into the game against Bahrain at Australia 2015 where he was instrumental in the UAE clinching third place.

The 24-year-old forward is also currently the second leading goalscorer (10 goals) in the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018/AFC Asian Cup 2019 Joint Preliminary Round 2 qualifiers.

The two players from the two AFC Champions League finalists were joined by Omar Abdulrahman, who is also from UAE.

Considered by many observers as one of the best talents in Asian football, the 24-year-old Omar Abdulrahman has scored many crucial goals for the UAE national team and club Al Ain in this year's AFC Asian Cup, AFC Champions League and the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018/AFC Asian Cup 2019 joint-qualifiers.

He notably led the UAE to a third-place finish in the AFC Asian Cup 2015. A constant provider, the Riyadh-born midfielder scored a crucial goal against Irans Naft Tehran to take his club to the Round of 16 of the current edition of the AFC Champions League.

It is most likely the second-leg of this year's AFC Champions League final in Guangzhou on Saturday will decide who will be named as the top Asian footballer this year. Guangzhou Evergrande and Al Ahli drew 0-0 in their first meet in Dubai.

In addition, Australian ace Elise Kellond-Knight as well as Japan's Aya Miyama and Rumi Utsugi find themselves in contention for the equally coveted AFC Women's Player of the Year Award.

The results will be unveiled at the AFC Annual Awards ceremony in New Delhi, India on Nov. 29.

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