Star striker finishes last at Best Footballer in Asia award

By Hieu Luong   February 6, 2023 | 11:39 pm PT
Star striker finishes last at Best Footballer in Asia award
Nguyen Tien Linh (C) dribbles between two defenders in the semifinal first leg of AFF Cup between Indonesia and Vietnam on January 6, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Thoa
Vietnamese striker Nguyen Tien Linh received only one point in the vote for Best Footballer in Asia award, while South Korean Son Heung-min continued to be the winner with 256 points.

Other contestants who also only had one point are Japanese striker Akihiro Ienaga (Kawasaki Frontale) and Saudi Arabian goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais (Al-Hilal).

This is the second consecutive time that Linh was nominated for the award, alongside 24 other players. In the previous awards, the Becamex Binh Duong striker got two points and placed 22nd along with five other players.

South Korean forward Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur) won the award for the sixth consecutive time and eighth overall since the awards started in 2013.

Finishing behind Son was Iranian striker Mehdi Taremi (FC Porto) and Saudi Arabian striker Salemm Al-Dawsari (Al-Hilal), both with 120 points. The two other positions in the top five are South Korean defender Kim Min-jae (Napoli) with 99 points and Japanese winger Kaoru Mitoma (Brighton & Hove Albion), the rising star of the English Premier League.

Thailand's Theerathon Bumathan finished ninth with 21 points. This is the first time that a Southeast Asian player cracked the top 10. Theerathon is also the most nominated Southeast Asian player in this award with four nominations.

Bunmathan won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award at the AFF Cup 2022, where Linh and his Thai counterpart Teerasil Dangda shared the Top Scorer Award with six goals apiece.

Linh was also the key player in Vietnam's SEA Games 31 campaign, helping the team claim the men's football gold medal for the second consecutive time. At the club level, the 25-year-old scored nine goals for Becamex Binh Duong in the 2022 V. League.

Best Footballer in Asia is an annual award presented by Titan Sports, the most circulated sports newspaper in China, to honor the player who had the best performance in Asian football or the Asian player competing outside of Asia in a calendar year. The winner is voted for by sports representatives representing Asian countries. The voting system is similar to that of the reputable Ballon D’or of French magazine France Football.

Another Vietnamese player, Nguyen Quang Hai, was also nominated in 2018 and 2019, placing 15th and 17th.

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