x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Ismail Matar on shortlist for Asian Player of the Year award

The Al Wahda and UAE forward is one of 15 players, along with favourite Keisuke Honda, for the prestigious prize.

Ismail Matar, the Al Wahda and UAE forward, was one of 15 players named on the provisional shortlist for the Asian Football Confederation's (AFC) Player of the Year award yesterday.

Japan's Keisuke Honda and Takashi Inui are the front-runners for the prize, while Server Djeparov of Uzbekistan, the 2008 winner, is also on the list along with Matar, Iraq's Younus Mahmoud, China's Deng Zhouxiang and Saudi Arabia's Mohammed Noor.

Honda emerged as Japan's key player at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, where he scored two goals and set up another as the Blue Samurai reached the last 16 for their best result on foreign soil. He was also named the most valuable player at the Asian Cup in Doha in January, when Japan lifted a record fourth continental title.

The 23-year-old Inui scored 34 goals in 120 games in the J-League and signed for the German club VfL Bochum in July.

Matar, who has been on the shortlist each year since 2006, has been out of action since May after undergoing knee surgery.

The AFC will revise the list again next month after the 2014 Fifa World Cup Asian qualifiers, Olympic qualifiers, AFC Champions League and AFC Cup matches. The award, won last year by the Australian defender Sasa Ognenovski, will be presented at a November 23 ceremony in Kuala Lumpur.