A day after narrowly missing out on the Ballon d’Or, Matildas captain Sam Kerr has been named Asia’s women’s player of the year.
Australia was well represented at the continental awards, with Kerr’s international teammate Mary Fowler in the running for women’s youth player of the year, and Socceroos pair Graham Arnold (men’s coach) and Mathew Leckie (men’s player) making the top three in their respective categories.
Away from the playing side, Australian match officials Chris Beath, Anton Shchetinin and Ashley Beecham received the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) referees special award.
Matildas and Chelsea forward Kerr was named Asia’s best for the second time, having previously been crowned the confederation’s leading female player in 2017.
Her year began with the golden boot for her seven-goal haul at the 2022 Asian Cup in India, while at club level Kerr helped Chelsea to the 2022/23 Women’s Super League and FA Cup double.
She becomes the third woman to claim the award more than once, joining Japanese duo Aya Miyama and Homare Sawa as a multiple title-holder.
On Monday, the 30-year-old West Australian had finished runner-up to Spain’s World Cup-winner Aitana Bonmati in the voting for the prestigious Ballon d’Or, soccer’s top individual honour.
“I just want to say what an amazing honour it is to win this award,” said Kerr via video message after beating out China’s Zhang Linyang and 2019 winner Saki Kumagai, from Japan.
“It has been an amazing year for me and my team and I just want to thank all my teammates, my coaches, my family and friends.”
Fellow Matildas forward Fowler finished in the top three in the youth player voting, with the award going to Japan’s 19-year-old goal-machine Maika Hamano.
Salem Al-Dawsari, who scored Saudi Arabia’s winner in their shock 2-1 victory over Argentina at last year’s World Cup in Qatar, took out the men’s player of the year award at the ceremony in Doha on Tuesday.
Socceroo and Melbourne City winger Mathew Leckie was third, with Qatar’s Almoez Ali second.
Arnold was pipped to the men’s coach of the year award by Hajime Moriyasu, who was rewarded for his achievements in leading Japan to the last 16 at the 2022 World Cup, including victories over European powerhouses Germany and Spain in the group stage.
Shui Qingxia claimed the honours in the women’s coaching category after she guided China to the Asian Cup in India, her nation’s first continental title since 2006.
– with Reuters