Financial Tribune - Three Iranian footballers are among the nominees for the Best Footballer in Asia in the list presented by Titan Sports Media Group, one of the most influential sports media groups in China which owns a newspaper and 10 other magazines.
According to Foxsportsasia.com, Iran has been, by some distance, the best national team in Asia in 2017 and was the third country after host Russia and Brazil to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. The team was well-organized, well-coached and built on a strong defense.
Among the three Iranian players in the list, two are legionnaires in European leagues namely Sardar Azmoun of Rubin Kazan F.C. in Russia and Reza Ghoochannejhad of the Heerenveen club in the Netherlands.
Striker Azmoun, 22, has had a remarkable performance in the international games with Team Melli, scoring 6 goals in 8 games played in 2017.
Another Iran striker Ghoochannejhad, 30, has also been influential in the national squad.
The third player from Iran in the list is Mehdi Taremi. The Persepolis man plays at home and is the Iranian Footballer of the Year. He has scored numerous goals in the domestic league, managed seven in the AFC Champions League and contributed vital goals for Team Melli in World Cup qualification.
Inspired by Ballon d’Or, and France Football, the editorial team of Titan Sports decided to launch an award in honor of the player deemed to have performed the best in Asian football over the previous year.
The award was founded in 2013. The winner is voted by a panel of football journalists, the majority of which are from nations or regions corresponding to national associations of Asian Football Confederation; there are also some from media outlets of non-AFC nations or regions.
There are four general factors base on which the footballers are selected as the Best Player of the Year. The factors namely are:
Int’l Success Outweighs Domestic
Performances in Asian competitions, whether for club or country, will usually outweigh those performing at a similar level in domestic leagues. It is in the continental and world competitions where the respective merits of players from different countries can be judged.
Those who star on the domestic stage only and are rarely seen elsewhere will really need a series of superb displays as a compelling reason for them to be rated as having performed better. Many of the numerous leagues around Asia have a number of players matching this description. Those who transcend their local leagues have a better chance.
Fantastic performances at home helps but those who star in the AFC Champions League, the AFC Cup, and in qualification for the World Cup or Asian Cup, will expectedly receive more attention.
Glory Makes Difference
Those who play a significant role in helping their team win finals and secure international trophies, along the way gaining plaudits and headlines, will inevitably find themselves on the list more often than not.
Scoring a hat-trick may be the same process, but the stage and setting where these three goals arrive are also important.
Playing in Top European Leagues
All four awards till now have gone to European-based players.
Those in the best leagues in the world are able to do a huge service for the reputation of Asian football by succeeding in the English Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga, Ligue 1 and Serie A among others.
Those that truly hit the heights for the big clubs in the big leagues as well as the UEFA Champions League which is a competition featuring most of the best players in the world, easily make the list.
Shine for National Team
This criterion is more influential in years that contain the Asian Cup and the World Cup, which will surely be influential in next year’s list. It is certain those who perform well for their national team in the big moments will also catch the eye.
The good folks at Titan Sports also include foreign players in Asia who have come to the East and made a significant impact. As yet, none have won but those who shine in the AFC Champions League come quite close. Elkeson from Brazil and Dario Conca (Argentina) came second and third in 2013 as the Chinese club Guangzhou Evergrande became continental champions. Brazilian Ricardo Goulart, with the same club, took third place two years later.