Bengaluru, December 3: Qatar's Akram Afif was crowned the 2019 Men's Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Player of the Year.
The corresponding honour in the women's category went to Japan's Saki Kumagai.
South Korea's Son Heung Min, who currently plays for Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur was adjudged the best Asian International Player of the Year.
A member of the national team since 2015, Afif, who plies his trade with Qatar Stars League (QSL) outfit Al Sadd, was instrumental in Al Annabi's AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 triumph, with one goal and 10 assists.
"Very happy to be selected as the Asian Player of the Year. This is a great honor for me. thanks to my team-mates and brothers the players of my club as well as the coaching staff and all the national team family, would like to tell them we are all "players of the year," Afif tweeted.
very happy to be selected as the Asian Player of the Year. This is a great honor for me. thanks to my teammates and brothers the players of my club as well as the coaching staff and all the national team family, would like to tell them we are all “players of the year”. pic.twitter.com/nFa3wXhvQ9— Akram Afif |اكرم عفيف اليافعي (@akramafif_) December 2, 2019
With Afif unable to attend the ceremony due to his commitments with the Qatari national team's in the ongoing Gulf Cup of Nations campaign, Barcelona legend and Al Sadd coach Xavi accepted the award on his behalf at the AFC Annual Awards ceremony held at Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Centre.
The 23-year-old had also played a key role in Al Sadd making it to the 2019 AFC Champions League semifinals, scoring five goals before the Doha-based club's run was snapped by eventual winners Al Hilal FC of Saudi Arabia in the semifinals.
Xavi, who has worked with Afif as both as a team-mate and head coach at Al Sadd, was delighted to receive Asian football's biggest individual honour in his place.
"I'm very proud," Xavi said.
"It's a privilege to be here representing him, and, first of all, it's well deserved, because he was making the difference in the national team.
"Also, with us, Al Sadd, until the semifinals of the Champions League. It was a pity that we couldn't reach the final but it's a pleasure to coach him. He's an unbelievable talent, and a big player, so I'm very happy for him," the 2010 World-Cup winner added.
Korea Republic's Chung Jung-Yong, who impressively led his country to a runner-up finish at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in June, received the Coach of the Year award in the men's category, while Japan's Asako Takakura claimed an unprecedented seventh honour in the women's category.
Player of the Year
Men: Akram Hassan Afif (QAT)
Women: Saki Kumagai (JPN)
Coach of the Year:
Men: Chung Jung-yong (KOR)
Women: Asako Takakura (JPN)
Asian International Player of the Year:
Son Heung-Min (KOR)
Youth Player of the Year:
Men: Lee Kang-in (KOR)
Women: Jun Endo (JPN)
Futsal Player of the Year:
Tomoki Yoshikawa (JPN)
(With AFC Media inputs)