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Saudi Arabia in race for AFC National Team of the Year award
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 14 - 11 - 2008

Saudi Arabia, Japan and Australia were Thursday named as the teams in contention to be AFC National Team of the Year, with Japanese stars Yasuhito Endo and Yuji Nakazawa heading the list of top players.
The Japanese pair were joined by Uzbekistan's Server Djeparov, Sebastian Soria of Qatar and the UAE's Ismail Matar with the award handed out in a ceremony in Shanghai on Nov. 25.
Endo leads the running after guiding his team Gamba Osaka to the AFC Champions League title on Wednesday with a 2-0 victory over Adelaide United for a 5-0 aggregate win. The Japanese international was named Most Valuable Player of the championships.
His Gamba manager Akira Nishino is among three men in the hunt for the coach of the year accolade. He is up against Adelaide's Aurelio Vidmar and Hossein Shams, who is in charge of Iran's futsal team.
It could be a night to remember for Gamba which is also in contention to be named club of the year, along with Adelaide, Uzbekistan's Kuruvchi and Japanese outfit Urawa Red Diamonds, who won the Champions League last year.
List of contenders in main categories:
Player of the Year: Sebastian Soria (Qatar and Qatar SC); Ismail Matar (UAE and Al Wahda); Server Djeparov (Uzbekistan and Kuruvchi); Yuji Nakazawa (Japan and Yokohama F Marinos); Yasuhito Endo (Japan and Gamba Osaka).
National Team of the Year: Australia; Japan; Saudi Arabia.
Club of the Year: Kuruvchi (Uzbekistan); Adelaide United (Australia); Gamba Osaka (Japan); Urawa Red Diamonds (Japan).
Coach of the Year: Aurelio Vidmar (Adelaide United); Akira Nishino (Gamba Osaka); Hossein Shams (Iran futsal).
Gamba eyes United scalp
Newly crowned Asian champion Gamba Osaka has vowed to stick to its brand of attacking football at the Club World Cup in Japan next month - even if it comes up against mighty Manchester United.
“I have achieved my biggest goal,” Gamba coach Akira Nishino told Japanese media after his side beat Adelaide United 2-0 away to seal the AFC Champions League final 5-0 on aggregate on Wednesday. “Now, we want to fight squarely with Man U.”
“The world next! Man U next!” the Nikkan Sports daily blared in a headline, praising Gamba for following up fellow J-League side Urawa Reds' triumph last year.
Gamba midfielder Yasuhito Endo, voted the MVP of the tournament, said the side had remained aggressive throughout the tournament and had played “a fun kind of football together.”

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