After their star turns at the Women’s World Cup on home soil, Sam Kerr and protege Mary Fowler are now in line to take out the continent’s top football honours.
Given their success as the Matildas finished fourth at the global showpiece in August, skipper Kerr and fellow striker Fowler have been nominated as the Asian Football Confederation’s best women’s and youth player respectively. Kerr headlines a three-player list that also includes Zhang Linyan from China and Japan’s Saki Kumagai.
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In a further boost for the Australian game, Melbourne City and Socceroos striker Mathew Leckie is among the players vying to take out the leading men’s gong. Leckie, who scored in the 1-0 win over Denmark at last year’s men’s World Cup to lift Australia into the knockout rounds, is shortlisted along with Qatar’s Almoez Ali and Salem Al Dawsari of Saudi Arabia.
Socceroos coach Graham Arnold, who lost his voice in Australia’s 1-0 defeat by England, can take some consolation in his nomination for best coach. He is up against Japan’s Hajime Moriyasu, whose side claimed wins over Germany and Spain at the World Cup, and Saudi Arabia’s Asian Cup-winning Under-23s coach Saad Al Shehri.
The Australians will boast a strong presence on the evening, with match official Chris Beath gaining a mention in the referees category.
It has been a magnificent season for Kerr and Fowler, in particular, given their exploits at the World Cup. While Kerr sustained a calf injury and missed the opening group matches of the tournament, her wonder goal against England in the semi-final defeat was one for the ages.
The West Australian enjoyed stellar form as Chelsea won a Women’s Super League-FA Cup double, and also helped guide the Londoners to the semi-finals of the Champions League.
The 20-year-old Fowler was rewarded for her deft touch and uncanny ability to find herself in goalscoring positions at the World Cup. The Queenslander plies her trade with Manchester City in the WSL, having signed from French side Montpellier in June 2022.
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The ceremony is set for Doha on 31 October and will be held for the first time since 2019 due to Covid-19.