FIFA nom­i­nates Ronaldo, Messi and Griez­mann for best of 2016

AFC names Omar Ab­dul­rah­man ‘Player of the Year’

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

PARIS: FIFA yes­ter­day said it had nom­i­nated Cris­tiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and An­toine Griez­mann to bat­tle it out for the ac­co­lade of world player of the year. Real Madrid star Ronaldo is favourite for the crown af­ter win­ning the Cham­pi­ons League and also Euro 2016 with Por­tu­gal, al­beit he ex­ited the fi­nal win over France with an early in­jury.

Peren­nial ri­val Messi of Barcelona and Ar­gentina, the reign­ing player of the year, had a less stel­lar year by his ex­act­ing stan­dards. Griez­mann mean­while suf­fered dou­ble heartache with France and Atletico Madrid at Euro 2016 and in the Cham­pi­ons League.

Ger­man Olympic cham­pion Me­lanie Behringer will go up against Brazil­ian vet­eran Marta and US star Carli Lloyd for the women’s ac­co­lade.Real Madrid’s Zine­dine Zi­dane will vie with Le­ices­ter mir­a­cle worker Clau­dio Ranieri and Por­tu­gal boss Fer­nando San­tos for the ti­tle of top coach. De­spite be­nig a rel­a­tive coach­ing novice, Zi­dane led Real to the Cham­pi­ons League af­ter re­plac­ing Rafael Ben­itez mid-sea­son at the Bern­abeu. Ranieri shocked the foot­ball world when he led Le­ices­ter to a first ever league crown in Eng­land while San­tos en­sured Por­tu­gal fi­nally broke their ma­jor ti­tle duck.

“I am get­ting bet­ter day by day and con­tinue to learn. But maybe it is too early for me to be up there among the three nom­i­nees,” Zi­dane re­flected mod­estly. The ti­tle of best women’s coach will go ei­ther to US han­dler Jill El­lis, Ger­many’s Sil­via Neid or Swe­den’s Pia Sund­hage.

FIFA will be­stow its “Best” awards on the win­ners at a Zurich gala evening on Jan­uary 9.

Mean­while, the foot­ball star of Al-Ain SC and the UAE na­tional team Omar Ab­dul­rah­man, nick­named as Amoori, has been named the 2016 AFC Player of the Year at a glit­ter­ing cer­e­mony here on Thurs­day.

Beaten to the 2015 award by com­pa­triot Ahmed Khalil, the prodi­giously tal­ented 25-year-old made up for that dis­ap­point­ment by top­ping this year’s shortlist ahead of Iraq’s Ham­madi Ahmed and Wu Lei from China, the Asian Foot­ball Con­fed­er­a­tion (AFC) said.

Ab­dul­rah­man’s recog­ni­tion comes af­ter the diminu­tive mid­fielder played piv­otal roles in guid­ing Al Ain to this sea­son’s AFC Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal, and the UAE to within touch­ing dis­tance of a place at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Rus­sia.

De­spite fail­ing to land sil­ver­ware with Al-Ain at the end of a do­mes­tic sea­son which saw the Emi­rati giants fin­ish sec­ond in the league and run­ners-up in the Pres­i­dent’s Cup, Ab­dul­rah­man shone brightly dur­ing his side’s quest for AFC Cham­pi­ons League glory.

In to­tal, the mid­field mae­stro gar­nered eight Most Valu­able Player Awards, three goals and plau­dits ga­lore as Al Ain stormed through the Group Stage, over­came Zoba­han, Loko­mo­tiv and El Jaish in the knock­out phase and then lost to Jeon­buk Hyundai Mo­tors over two legs in the fi­nal af­ter which Ab­dul­rah­man was duly voted the Toy­ota Most Valu­able Player of the Com­pe­ti­tion.


MU­NICH: This com­bi­na­tion of pic­ture made on De­cem­ber 1, 2016 shows (from L) Real Madrid’s Por­tuguese for­ward Cris­tiano Ronaldo in Madrid, on Novem­ber 19, 2016, Atletico Madrid’s French for­ward An­toine Griez­mann in Mu­nich on May 3, 2016, and Barcelona’s...

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