Olunga, Ronaldo, Benzema nominated for inaugural Best Middle East Player of the year award

STARS ABROAD Olunga, Ronaldo, Benzema nominated for inaugural Best Middle East Player of the year award

Mark Kinyanjui 21:00 - 23.11.2023

Michael Olunga is set to compete for the inagural Middle East Player of the Year award against Cristiano Ronaldo, Riyad Mahrez, Karim Benzema and seven other players.

Harambee Stars captain Michael Olunga is in a race to win the inaugural Middle East Player of the year award against football great Cristiano Ronaldo 

The awarding will take place alongside the 18th Dubai International Sports Conference in partnership with Dubai Sports Council on January 19 at the five-star Atlantis, The Palm.

Olunga has been in stellar form for Al Duhail this year, helping them to win three titles, as well as lift the Qatari Stars league golden boot.

The achievements have earned him nomination for the award, which was introduced to recognise the best player playing in the Middle East Asian region.

Olunga will have his work cut out to win the award. Apart from Ronaldo, he will also be up against Karim Benzema, Salem Al-Dawsari, Mourad Batna, Mohamed El Shenawy, Abderrazak Hamdallah, Odion Ighalo, Ali Mabkhout, Riyad Mahrez, Alejandro Romero and Talisca. 

Ronaldo’s stunning transfer to Saudi Arabia hurled regional football narratives into the global spotlight, which led to the introduction of two Middle East award categories. 

There will also be an award to recognize the best Middle East Club which includes eight nominations such as Al Hilal, Al Ahly, and Ronaldo’s Al Nassr.

Voting for the contestants can be done on the link here. It will be handed out on 7 December 2023.

The award has been introduced by the Dubai Globe Soccer Soccer when it marks it’s 14th anniversary of handing awards to the best performing players.

It will be awarding  the best performing players globally in 16 different categories.

Meanwhile, ten of Manchester City’s UEFA Champions League-winning squad, Bayern Munich’s Harry Kane, Real Madrid’s Jude Bellingham, and Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah are among the 30 contenders for Best Men’s Player category.

One of the world’s leading celebrations of international football excellence, the 14th edition of the star-studded awards and the popular Dubai International Sports Conference will host an array of football stars from past and present. 

While the 30-player longlist for the best male player is dominated by the biggest names plying their trades in Europe, Ronaldo and Lionel Messi of Inter Miami are also among the nominations.

In the Best Women’s Player category, Spain’s World Cup winner Aitana Bonmati, Chelsea’s Sam Kerr, and German great Alexandra Popp are among 20 nominees, while Best Women’s Club includes Champions League holders Barcelona and six-time Women’s Super League champions Chelsea. Manchester City are joined by the likes of Napoli, Al Ahly, Al Ittihad, and Fluminense in the Best Men’s Club nominations.

City’s treble-winning manager Pep Guardiola leads the nominations for Best Coach, alongside the likes of Marcel Koller, the Swiss who led Al Ahly to a five-trophy clean sweep in just 10 months, and Real Madrid’s Carlo Ancelotti, the most decorated coach in UEFA Champions League history having won the trophy a record four times. 

The Maradona Award for the calendar year’s top goal-scorer meanwhile is being hotly contested by Haaland, Kane, Ronaldo, and Kylian Mbappe, who are all separated by only a handful of goals with less than six weeks left of 2023.

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