Best Footballer in Asia 2018: All you need to know

With 2018 coming to a close, the Titan Sports’ Best Footballer in Asia 2018 – the 6th edition of the prize – is just around the corner.

For the first time, the nomination is open to all jurors. After a two-week nomination stage and discussion within the prize organising committee,  a 24-man nominee list will be drawn up to contest for the supreme individual footballing award for Asian football excellence.

Unlike the Asian Football Confederation’s Asian Footballer of the year judged by AFC technical department and match commissioners, Best Footballer in Asia, founded by Titan Sports, the only media representative of China voting for Ballon d’Or, applies the similar organising structure and voting rules as France Football’s Ballon d’Or.

The juror panel is constituted by media representatives of nearly 40 AFC football associations and some Asian football experts of European football media outlets, bringing the total amount of jurors to 42 (2017 edition). The eligibility of the nominees for Best Footballer in Asia, is wider than AFC Player of the Year.

Apart from players having sparkled in the AFC leagues and competitions, like the current AFC Player of the Year Abdelkarim Hassan, there are Asian players playing in non-AFC league that have showcased Asian football excellence to global fans, as well as non-AFC players contributing their talents and philosophy to improving the Asian game.

As such, with the inclusion of these three categories of players, the wider coverage on serves to make the idea of a “top Asian footballer” more expansively representative, making the Best Footballer in Asia more competitive and laudable with voting from football experts of different AFC nations and even non-AFC experts.

2018 has been a big year for Asian football.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup saw all five AFC teams garnered at least one point – the first time this has happened since the tournament was expanded to 32 teams – and there were moments that will live long in the memory, such as Iran’s resilient performance against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal, Japan’s brave defeat to eventual third-placed Belgium and, most famously, the game in Kazan where Korea Republic sank defending champions Germany.

At Asian Games 2018, Korea Republic won the men’s football competition to continue their dominance in the tournament.

In November, Kashima Antlers, for the first time in their history, lifted the trophy of the AFC Champions league, making it two years in a row that a Japanese club has emerged as the best club side in the continent.

The AFF Suzuki Cup concluded on Saturday with Vietnam emerging triumphant a decade on from their maiden win, and also coming after their historical achievement of a runners-up finish in January’s AFC U-23 Championship.

Eventful and full of amazing moments – that was Asian football in 2018.

Below is the 24-man shortlist for the Best Footballer in Asia 2018.

The voting process has already begun and the result will be announced on FOX Sports Asia in the final week of the year.

The 24-man nominee list

The 24-man shortlist for the Best Footballer in Asia 2018 shortlisted by Titan Sports. It is a recommended list but any juror can choose and vote for an eligible player beyond the list.

Name Club Nationality
Akram Afif Al Sadd (Qatar) Qatar
Alireza Beiranvand Persepolis (Iran) Iran
Marcus Berg Al Ain (United Arab Emirates) Sweden
Baghdad Bounedjah Al Sadd (Qatar) Algeria
Sunil Chhetri Bengaluru (India) India
Neil Etheridge Cardiff City (Wales) Philippines
Salman Al Faraj Al Hilal (Saudi Arabia) Saudi Arabia
Makoto Hasebe Eintracht Frankfurt (Germany) Japan
Abdelkarim Hassan Al Sadd (Qatar) Qatar
Hwang Ui-jo Gamba Osaka (Japan) Korea Republic
Takashi Inui Eibar (Spain)/Real Betis (Spain) Japan
Alireza Jahanbakhsh AZ Alkmaar (Netherlands)/ Brighton & Hove Albion (England) Iran
Cho Hyun-woo Daegu (Korea Republic) Korea Republic
Valery Kichin Yenisey (Russia) Kyrgyzstan
Kwoun Sun-tae Kashima Antlers (Japan) Korea Republic
Aaron Mooy Huddersfield Town (England) Australia
Nguyen Quang Hai Hà Nội  (Vietnam) Vietnam
Yuya Osako Koln (Germany)/ Werder Bremen (Germany) Japan
Matthew Ryan Brighton & Hove Albion (England) Australia
Serginho America Mineiro (Brazil)/Kashima Antlers (Japan) Brazil
Gen Shoji Kashima Antlers (Japan) Japan
Son Heung-min Tottenham Hotspur (England) Korea Republic
Yuma Suzuki Kashima Antlers (Japan) Japan
Wu Lei Shanghai SIPG (China) China