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Uzbekistanís Djeparov Asiaís star soccer player of the year

The crowning of inspirational Uzbek midfielder Server Djeparov as the 2008 AFC Player of the Year capped off a memorable night in Shanghai as the AFC honoured the best of the year in Asian football.

Japan were the biggest winners on Tuesday with the East Asian nation taking top honours in five of the 13 categories although the Kuruvchi/Bunyodkor star emerging as Asiaís finest footballer ahead of Yasuhito Endo prevented 2008 AFC Champions League champions Gamba Osaka completing a hat-trick of accolades.

Gambaís victorious ACL campaign saw the J.League side named the 2008 AFC Club Team of the Year while long-serving manager Akira Nishino won the AFC Coach of the Year.

Japanís impressive 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign contributed to the Blue Samurai winning the AFC National Team of the Year, while the JFA were also honoured with the AFC Fair Play Association of the Year.

The late Ken Naganuma, who passed away in June at the age of 77, was posthumously awarded with the prestigious AFC Diamond of Asia, which was presented to his wife Yumiko and daughter Rie, beginning the trophy trail for Japanís representatives.

Among his many achievements, Naganuma led Japan to the 1968 Olympic bronze medal as head coach of the national team while as a top level administrator he was one of the driving forces behind the creation of the J.League, considered by many as Asiaís finest domestic competition. Asian Futsal powerhouse Iran were once again named the AFC Futsal Team of the Year while Vahid Shamsaee, top scorer and MVP as the Iranians triumphed in the 2008 AFC Futsal Championship with a 4-0 win over hosts Thailand, won the AFC Futsal Player of the Year.

Iranís success on the night was not restricted to the indoor game with the Islamic Republicís positive work at various administrative levels earning them the AFC Association of the Year prize.

A stellar performance for champions the UAE saw AFC U-19 Championship MVP and top scorer Ahmed Khalil win the AFC Youth Player of the Year award while Uzbekistanís Ravshan Irmatov and Tammam Hamdoun from Syria were named the AFC Referee and Assistant Referee of the Year respectively.

Completing the winners list is Malaysian Kamarudin Sakhari, who had the honour of being presented with the first ever AFC Match Commissioner of the Year award.


AFC Annual Awards 2008 list of winners

Diamond of Asia: Ken Naganuma (Japan)
Youth Player of the Year: Ahmed Khalil (UAE)
Futsal Player of the Year: Vahid Shamsaee (Iran)
Coach of the Year: Akira Nishino (Japan)
Assistant Referee of the Year: Tammam
Hamdoun (Syria)
Referee of the Year: Ravshan Irmatov (Uzbekistan)
Match Commissioner of the Year:Kamarudin
Sakhari (Malaysia)
Fair Play Association of the Year: Japan
Association of the Year: Iran
Futsal Team of the Year: Iran
Club Team of the Year: Gamba Osaka (Japan)
National Team of the Year: Japan
Player of the Year: Server Djeparov (Uzbekistan)



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