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Iran's Karimi voted 2004 AFC Player of the Year: official

Tehran, Dec 7, IRNA -- Gifted striker of Iran's football squad, Ali Karimi, was elected as AFC Player of the Year 2004, a Football Federation official said on condition of anonymity Monday.

Bahrain forward A'ala Hubail and Japan playmaker Shunsuke Nakamura are the two other nominees for this year's award.

Although the outcome will be officially announced at the Palace of Golden Horses hotel in Kuala Lumpur, capital of Malaysia, on Dec 8, the news was leaked Monday.

Karimi, Hubail, and Nakamura are up for the AFC's most prestigious individual award following the trio's impressive displays at the 2004 Asian Cup in China.

Karimi and Hubail were the tournament's joint top scorers with five goals each while Nakamura won the MVP of the Tournament award after helping Japan to lift its third Asian Cup title.

All three helped their countries to reach the final round of the Asian qualifiers for the 2006 World Cup, having also good seasons in their clubs.

The 26-year-old Karimi inspired Al Ahly to victory in the UAE President's Cup final.

Hubail, 22, has been scoring goals on a regular basis since joining Qatar league side Al Gharafa after the Asian Cup.

Nakamura, 26, remains a firm crowd favorite at Italian Serie A side Reggina.

Karimi succeeds his compatriot Mehdi Mahdavikia, 2003 AFC Player of the Year, who plays for the German Bundesliga team Hamburg.

There will be 10 other prizes presented on Dec 8 including awards for Team of the Year, Coach of the Year, and Youth Player of the Year.

... Payvand News - 12/7/04 ... --

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