Salem Al-Dawsari of Saudi Arabia was named the Asian Football Confederation’s Player of the Year. Sam Kerr, a forward for Chelsea and Australia, won the women’s award at the awards event in Doha on Tuesday.
In last year’s World Cup, Saudi Arabia shocked everyone by beating Argentina 2-1. Al-Dawsari scored the game-winning goal and also led Al-Hilal to the finals of the Asian Champions League and the Club World Cup. He won the men’s award.
The awards were given out for the first time in four years because the COVID-19 pandemic had made it hard to play sports across the continent.
Al-Dawsari won ahead of Almoez Ali of Qatar and Mathew Leckie of Australia. “I am very happy with this achievement and I would like to thank the leadership in Saudi Arabia for their keen interest in athletes and support for sport,” he said.
Kerr, who came in second place in the Ballon d’Or vote in Paris on Monday, won her award for the second time. In 2017, she was named the confederation’s best female player.
With this win, she becomes the third woman, after Japanese duo Aya Miyama and Homare Sawa, to win the award more than once.
“I just want to say what an honour it is to win this award, especially since I had to beat out some really great finalists,” Kerr said. She won the award ahead of Zhang Linyang from China and Saki Kumagai from Japan, who was the 2019 winner.
Japan’s Hajime Moriyasu got the award for best men’s coach after his team, the Samurai Blue, beat Germany and Spain in the group stage of the World Cup and made it to the round of 16.
Shui Qingxia won the award for best women’s coach after leading China to its first regional title since 2006, the Women’s Asian Cup in India last February.