Rauf Inileev named the best coach of Asia in 2007

AFC President Mohamed bin Hammam presented the prestigious award to Al Qahtani, who was joint-top scorer as he skippered his side to the final of the AFC Asian Cup 2007™.

The mercurial striker paused and was at loss of words after receiving the honour but finally said: "I would like to thank the support I received this year from the federation and my club. I would like to dedicate this award to my teammates and family."

Under the AFC’s points system for determining who will walk away with the continent’s highest individual accolade for a player, Al Qahtani outscored runner-up and AFC Asian Cup 2007™ MVP Younis Mahmoud and his Iraqi counterpart Nashat Akram.

Both Younis and Nashat played key roles throughout Iraq’s victorious AFC Asian Cup 2007™ campaign and not surprisingly the reigning continental champions were rewarded with the AFC National Team of the Year award.

Lennart Johansson, who contributed significantly to the development of Asian football in his capacity as UEFA president from 1990 to 2007, was given the highest individual accolade of AFC Diamond of Asia.

“I was surprised to receive this honour and at the same time I am grateful and deeply touched,” he said after receiving the award from the AFC chief.

“I saw that there was immense potential in Asia and we, the other confederations, will have problem competing with Asia during my tenure in the UEFA. And, I was right that time. The Asian football has grown in all aspects.”

Australian Mark Shield, who officiated in Iraq’s 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia in the AFC Asian Cup 2007™ final was named AFC Referee of the Year while Frank Lowy, Chairman of the Football Federation of Australia presented Mohammed Hamad Al Ghamdi, from Saudi Arabia, with his AFC Assistant Referee of the Year award.

The AFC Coach of the Year Award, which is reserved exclusively for Asian nationals, went to Rauf Inileev, after the 57-year-old oversaw an impressive Uzbekistan campaign at the AFC Asian Cup 2007™.

After finishing third in 2006 Youth Player of the Year, DPR Korea’s prodigiously talented Under 20s captain Kim Kum-il took the first prize this time around, seeing off the challenge of the Japanese duo of Yasuhito Morishima and Yoichiro Kakitani.

There was better news for Japan in the AFC Club Team of the Year category, with reigning J-League champions Urawa Reds taking to coveted accolade after defeating Sepahan of Iran in the final to become the first Japanese side to claim top honours in the AFC Champions League since its introduction in 2003.

Vahid Shamsaee, who scooped his second AFC Futsal Championship MVP award as Iran beat Japan in the 2007 final, was named AFC Futsal Player of the Year, while the Iranians were also named AFC Futsal Team of the Year.

Japan’s other prize of the night was the AFC Fair Play Association of the Year, while the AFC Association of the Year award was given to East Asian neighbours China.

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