- Associated Press - Thursday, December 1, 2016

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - Attacking midfielder Omar Abdulrahman won the Asian Football Confederation player of the year award for helping Al Ain reach the final of the continental club championship and steering the United Arab Emirates into the last round of qualifying for the World Cup.

“This achievement is a national achievement,” Abdulrahman said at the awards ceremony on Thursday.

“This award is for the UAE national team and Al Ain. It is the second year in a row that the award goes to a player from the UAE, it’s proof that we have talented players.”

Abdulrahman beat China’s Wu Lei and Hammadi Ahmed of Iraq for the top individual honor for Asian players playing in Asia. He went one better this year, after being beaten by fellow UAE player Ahmed Khalil last year.

Al Ain lost the Asian Champions League final to South Korean club Jeonbuk Motors last weekend, but Abdulrahman picked up eight most valuable player awards during the tournament and scored three times.

Japan striker Shinji Okazaki was voted the AFC’s Asian international player of the year after helping Leicester City on its stunning run to the Premier League title in England.

Caitlin Foord beat Australian teammate Lisa de Vanna and China’s Tan Ruying for the women’s player of the year award.

The AFC gave Confederation of African Football president Issa Hayatou its Diamond of Asia award in recognition of his four-decade involvement in the development of the game.

“The whole African continent is honored by this award,” Hayatou was quoted as saying. “Africa and Asia have similar opportunities and challenges. If we continue to speak with a unified voice we can look into the future together with optimism.”

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