Omar Khribin has been named the 2017 Asian Player of Year, pipping to the award the UAE’s Omar Abdulrahman and China’s Wu Lei.
The Syrian, who plays for Al Hilal in Saudi Arabia, became the first from his country to win the prize and was presented with the trophy on Wednesday at the Asian Football Confederation’s Annual Awards in Bangkok. Abdulrahman had been the reigning Asian Player of Year having won the award 12 months ago.
Khribin’s victory was well deserved following a stellar 2017 with club and country. The forward joined Al Hilal in January, initially on loan, from the UAE’s Al Dhafra and helped the Riyadh club to the Saudi Pro League title and to King’s Cup success.
Khribin, 23, finished top scorer in this year’s Asian Champions League, although his 10 goals were not enough for Hilal to clinch the crown. On Saturday, they were beaten 1-0 by Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds in the second leg of the final and lost the showpiece 2-1 on aggregate.
Khribin also played an integral role in Syria’ surprise run to the play-offs for next summer’s World Cup. Last month, his side lost to Asian champions Australia 3-2 on aggregate having taken the tie to extra time.
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"We play and fight to bring happiness to our people, this is our main target," Khrbin said at the awards ceremony.
"We have determination when we play football, but this is stronger when we have people who are very hungry for happiness and joy.
"From here I would like to promise Syria fans we will bring happiness and joy for them at the Asian Cup finals next year because our people deserve to be happy."
Abdulrahman, the Al Ain and UAE playmaker, finished second in the voting, with Shanghai SIPG’s Wu Lei third. Australia’s Samantha Kerr took the women’s award ahead of Japan’s Saki Kumagai and North Korea’s Sung Hyang Sim.
Meanwhile, Yousef Al Serkal, the former president of the UAE Football Association, was awarded the Diamond of Asia prize - the highest accolade the Asian Football Confederation can bestow on an individual.