Somali born but Qatari national team player, Akram Afif was named the AFC Player of the Year 2019 at the AFC Annual Awards on Monday in HongKong.
Afif becomes the second Qatari player in a row to win the award, succeeding compatriot Abdelkarim Hassan.
The Al Sadd striker was instrumental in his country’s title win at the Asian Cup finals in the United Arab Emirates at the start of the year and also led his club to the semi-finals of the Asian Champions League. Al Sadd will play in the Club World Cup starting next week in Qatar.
Afif won the award ahead of Iranian World Cup goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand and Japanese defender Tomoaki Makino, who helped Urawa Red Diamonds to the final of the Asian Champions League.
A permanent member of the senior national team since 2015, Afif was instrumental in Qatar’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 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”. Akram tweeted.
Afif was tipped as a future star since his early years that saw him play for Spanish youth teams Sevilla and Villarreal, before being called up for Qatar’s team for the 2012 AFC U-16 Championship Qualifiers and the 2014 AFC U-19 Championship.
Not yet 20, Afif was part of Qatar’s 2016 AFC U-23 Championship campaign that was led by head coach Felix Sanchez and the forward was again part of the squad in the following edition, where Qatar finished third.
Tottenham Hotspur and Korea Republic star Song Heung-min were named the AFC International Player of the Year ahead of Eintracht Frankfurt’s Makoto Hasebe and Zenit St Petersburg’s Sardar Azmoun.