Asian football player of the year ‘proud’ despite ban

Natashya Gutierrez
Asian football player of the year ‘proud’ despite ban
The 31-year-old is set to be banned for 8 matches for his actions which sparked a melee at the end of the bitterly contested Champions League final on November 1

MANILA, Philippines – Nassir Al Shamrani expressed pride at winning Asia’s player of the year award on Sunday, November 30, as he shrugged off an impending an eight-match ban for spitting and head-butting.

The Saudi striker preferred to focus solely on his achievement at being named Asia’s best footballer, which came on the back of his 10 goals for Al Hilal in the AFC Champions League.

Sources earlier confirmed reports the 31-year-old was set to be banned for 8 matches for his actions which sparked a melee at the end of the bitterly contested Champions League final on November 1.

“I’m living for today, I’m not thinking about anything else. I’m proud I’m the best men’s player of the year – anything else, please talk to AFC,” Al Shamrani told reporters. 

“I’m just thinking about today and I’m proud of myself, and it’s not the first time I’ve won prizes.”

Al Shamrani beat out competition from Al Ain’s Ismail Ahmed and Qatar’s Khalfan Ibrahim to take the top prize at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) awards night in Manila.

He was at the center of a mass shoving match in Al Hilal’s contentious 1-0 defeat to Australia’s Western Sydney Wanderers following the final’s second leg in Riyadh.

Video footage shows Al Shamrani spitting at Wanderers defender Matthew Spiranovic after the Australian club’s win, prompting a mass confrontation between the two teams.

Al Hilal cried foul over their defeat in the final, saying they were denied six penalties and calling it a “black spot in the history of Asian football”.

Al Shamrani is unlikely to repeat his goal-scoring feats in next year’s Champions League as his ban for eight games of the competition looks set to be announced in the coming days.

“Winning this prize doesn’t affect our sadness at losing the AFC Champions League cup. We feel we played better (than the Wanderers) but it’s bad luck for us that we lost,” he said.

“We still feel unhappy that we lost the Champions League. This is not a personal thing, this is a team event and I wanted us to win both prizes. It’s unforgettable for us.”

Katrina Gorry was named women’s player of the year after hitting the net three times in Australia’s run to the Women’s Asian Cup final.

Tony Popovic was coach of the year and the Wanderers were best team after their feat in becoming Australia’s first ever Champions League winners and on their debut in the competition.

Palestine were named best national team for their feat in winning the AFC Challenge Cup, a victory which earned them a berth at next year’s Asian Cup in Australia.

Australia’s Crystal Palace midfielder Mile Jedinak won international player of the year, and best foreign player went to Al Ain’s Ghanaian striker Asamoah Gyan. – Rappler.com

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