KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) – Al Hilal’s Nassir Al Shamrani has been shortlisted for Asian Player of the Year despite causing controversy when he angrily spat at an opponent and sparked a melee at the AFC Champions League final.
The striker’s goal-laden tournament ended on a sour note when he spat at Western Sydney Wanderers’ Matthew Spiranovic on the final whistle of their 1-0 aggregate win, prompting a shoving match.
There was no room on the shortlist for any Wanderers players, despite their achievement in becoming Australia’s first Asian champions and on their tournament debut.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said the “fiery” Al Shamrani got the nod after scoring 10 goals for Al Hilal in Asia’s club showpiece.
Joining Shamrani on the shortlist are Al Ain defender Ismail Ahmed and Qatar’s Khalfan Ibrahim, the 2006 AFC player of the year who turns out for Al Sadd.
The Wanderers’ overlooked stand-outs include goalkeeper Ante Covic, who was named the AFC Champions League’s most valuable player and pulled off a string of saves in the final.
However, Covic was also involved in one of Al Hilal’s vociferous penalty appeals when he brought down Salman Al Faraj during the second leg in Riyadh.