AFC Player of the Year nominees

We profile the three nominees for the AFC Player of the year award, ahead of Sunday's gala awards ceremony in New Delhi, India.

Omar Abdulrahman (UAE)

Just in case

A product of the Al Hilal youth system, the attacking midfielder-cum winger has been an integral part of the Al Ain side ever since making his senior debut for Al Zaeem in 2008.

A languid playmaker known for his passing and dribbling abilities, the Riyadh-born midfielder made his debut for the national team in 2010 and has been a ever-present ever since. 

He played a key role in their third-place finish at the Asian Cup in 2015, and has scored  several key goals for the national team in the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018/AFC Asian Cup 2019 qualifiers.

At club level, he was part of the Al Ain teams that won three Arabian Gulf League titles, a League Cup, three Supercups and two Presidents Cups in the last seven years. No wonder he has been linked with a move to the likes of Manchester United and AC Milan.

Zheng Zhi (China)

Just in case

The 35-year-old defender has been one of the most successful players in China ever since making his senior debut for Shenzhen Jianlibao. 

He was crowned Chinese Football Player of the Year in 2002 and 2006 and captained Guangzhou Evergrande to AFC Champions League success in 2013 and 2015 – his performances in their initial continental success saw him named AFC Player of the season that year.

Before joining Guanzhou, he spent two seasons at Shandong Luneng, two at Charlton Athletic and became the second Chinese footballer, after Du Wei, to sign for Scottish outfit Celtic when he joined the Hoops in 2009.

He made his international debut in 2002 and has been capped 92 times by Team Dragon, scoring 15 goals from midfield in that time.

Ahmed Khalil (UAE)

Just in case

The 24-year-old forward has spent his whole career at Dubai club Al Ahli, and has scored 52 goals in 133 appearances after making his first-team debut in 2006.

He was named the AFC Young Player of the Year and AFC U-19 Championship MVP in 2008, and shortly after made his international debut for the United Arab Emirates. 

Whilst he initially struggled in front of goal for the national team, he has been in sublime form over the last three years, finding the back of the net 28 times in 40 appearances. He is also the second leading goalscorer (10) in the current FIFA World Cup 2018/AFC Asian Cup 2019 qualifiers.

His form on the international stage was transferred to the club game, as Al Ahli won two domestic titles, three UAE Supercups and reached the final of the AFC Champions League for the first time in their history in 2015.