Akram Afif's sterling year was made even more exceptional when the Qatar international was named the AFC Player of the Year 2019 at the AFC Annual Awards on Monday.
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.
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.
Japan international captain Saki Kumagai was named the AFC Women's Player of the Year Award ahead of Li Ying of China PR and India women's national team star Ashalata Devi.
Tottenham Hotspur and Korea Republic star Song Heung-min was named the AFC International Player of the Year ahead of Eintracht Frankfurt's Makoto Hasebe and Zenit St Petersburg's Sardar Azmoun.
Meanwhile, Korea Republic's Chung Jung-yong was named the AFC Men's Coach of the Year. Chung, a former professional player, first got involved with Korea Republic's age-group national teams in 2009, where he was the assistant coach to Kim Eun-chul for the AFC U-16 Championship 2010 Qualifiers.
Asako Takakura win AFC Women's Coach of the Year for a record seventh time. Takakura, who also won the award in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018, led Japan to the FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019 Round of 16.
Japan Football Association (JFA) was awarded the AFC Member Association of the Year 2019 for the fifth time. Hong Kong Football Association LTD. (HKFA) and Guam Football Association (GFA) were honored with the AFC Member Association of the Year 2019 Developing and Aspiring awards respectively.
The three East Asian Member Associations have made great strides in 2019 through competitive Continental matches, as well as programmes and initiatives to further spread the awareness of the game.
Chinese Football Association, Singapore Football Association and Brunei Darussalam were awarded The AFC President's Recognition Awards for Grassroots Football 2019.
Cover image credit: AFC
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