Saudi Arabia striker Yasser Al Qahtani was crowned AFC Player of the Year 2007 during a glittering award ceremony held at the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney, Australia. AFC President Mohamed bin Hammarn presented the prestigious award TO A! Qahtani, who was joint-top scorer as he skippered his side to the final of the AFC Asian Cup 2007 Under the AFC’s points system for determining who walks away with the continent’s highest individual accolade for a player, Al Qahtani outscored Younis Mahmoud and Nashat Akram, both from Iraq. Mark Shield of Australia, who officiated in Iraq’s 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia in the AFC Asian Cup 2007 final, was named AFC Referee of the Year.The AFC Coach of the Year Av/ard, which is reserved exclusively for Asian nationals, went to Rauf Inileev after the 57-year-old oversaw an impressive Uzbekistan campaign at the AFC Asian Cup 2007. Kim Kum-il of Korea DPR took the Youth Player of the Year award with Yasuhito Morishima and Yoichiro Kakitani, both from Japan, second and third, respectively. Urawa Red Diamonds were crowned AFC Club Team of the Year. Vahid Shamsaee, who scooped his second AFC Futsal Championship MVP award after Iran beat Japan in the 2007 final, was named AFC Futsal Player of the Year, whiie the Iranians were also named AFC Futsal Team of the Year. Japan’s other prize of the evening was the AFC Fair Play Association of the Year, while the AFC Association of the Year award was presented to Easi Asian neighbours China.
AFC President Mohamed bin Hammamnas reiterated the importance of developing football in India and vowed to continue to give the South Asian nation the AFC’s full support through the Vision Asia initiative. “Historically, India has strong football roots. Some of the oldest clubs and competitions are in India. Some clubs have a fan following of more than 20 million fans, in and outside India. That is an indicator of the popularity of the game.” India is one of seven pilot countries in the Vision Asia development project along with Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran, Oman, Vietnam and China, who are already seeing the positive effects of the programme.