ABU DHABI // Omar Abdulrahman has been named Asian player of the year to become the second successive Emirati to win the award.
The UAE and Al Ain playmaker, 25, was confirmed as the continent’s finest footballer at the Asian Football Confederation’s Annual Awards, which took place on Thursday night at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi.
In receiving the prize, Abdulrahman succeeds compatriot Ahmed Khalil, who made history 12 months ago by becoming the first Emirati to be awarded Asian club football’s lead individual honour. Abdulrahman clinched the trophy ahead of China’s Wu Lei and Iraq’s Hammadi Ali.
Abdulrahman has enjoyed a stellar 2016 personally, playing an integral role in Al Ain’s run to the Asian Champions League final, where the UAE side were denied the title last Saturday by South Korea’s Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors. In 14 appearances in the competition, Abdulrahman was named man of the match eight times.
He has also starred for the UAE national team as they progressed to the third and final stage of qualification for the 2018 World Cup. Currently, the UAE sit fourth in Group B at the halfway stage.
Zlatko Dalic (Al Ain manager):
“I’m so proud of him and proud he is the best player in Asia, because he’s my player and part of my team, which means my team was great also. He played very well for the national team, he was my captain and won eight man-of-the-match awards in Asia. A special player, a great player. I’m glad to have him.”
Mohanad Salem (UAE and Al Ain):
“We are so happy for Omar, because this is not just an award for him, but for the whole of the UAE and the Emirati people. Omar deserves to be No 1 — this year he has been consistently at a high level. We hope next year another Emirati will win also, so the UAE has three in a row.”
Ali Kasheif (UAE and Al Jazira):
“All the national team players and the Arabian Gulf League players have come tonight to celebrate this honour with Omar. Omar should win because he had a fantastic year, especially in the Champions League. Omar is the best player in Asia and can be one of the best in the world. He is still young, he can get better and better.”
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