Will it be Msakny or Xavi or Nam again?
Will it be Al Duhail’s Nam Tae-Hee again? Or will his captain Youssef Msakni upstage him this time? Or Al Sadd’s Spain and Barcelona great Xavi Hernandez bag the coveted award?
These three players have been voted as finalists for this season’s Best Player Award by the Qatar Football Association’s (QFA) Awards Committee.
Bassam Al Rawi, Almoez Ali (both Al Duhail) and Salem Al Hajri (Al Sadd) are vying for the Best Under-23 Player Award, while Michael Laudrup (Al Rayyan), Jesualdo Ferreira (Al Sadd) and Djamel Belmadi (Al Duhail) are in contention for the Best Coach Award.
The winners will be announced at the end-of-season ceremony at the Qatar National Convention Center in Education City on Thursday, 17th May.
QNB Stars League team coaches, Qatar national team coach, Qatar Olympic team coach, team managers, media representatives, representative of QFA, representative of Qatar Stars League Management, as well as president and Board members of the QFA participated in the final voting process.
QSL Online takes a look at Msakni, Nam and Xavi.
Youssef Msakni (Al Duhail)
Youssef Msakny played a key role in Al Duhail’s triumph in this season’s QNB Stars League with an unbeaten record. He played the captain’s role to perfection and finished as the second-best scorer in the tournament with 25 goals, one less than team-mate and Moroccan striker Youssef El Arabi.
Together, they contributed 51 of Al Duhail’s tally of 86 goals, the most by any side. The nearest was Al Sadd’s 68 goals.
The Tunisian attacking midfielder was named the best player in four months (September, November, December and February) and that speaks volumes for his performance.
The technical and physical aspects released by STATS, the official statistics and figures provider for the QNB Stars League, revealed that Msakni had an outstanding season.
However, Msakni missed Al Duhail’s triumphant campaign in the Qatar Cup as he is out with a cruciate ligament injury. He was operated upon in the US and still needs rest. He will also miss the forthcoming FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Nam Tae-Hee (Al Duhail)
Nam Tae-Hee is a vital cog in the machine of this season’s QNB Stars League and Qatar Cup champions Al Duhail. The South Korean playmaker is among the best presently plying their trade in the country.
Nam, who was adjudged the Most Valuable Player last season, is among the core group of players Algerian coach Djamel Belmadi is counting on.
The midfielder also played a significant role in Al Duhail’s brilliant run in the AFC Champions League, where they were the only team with an all-win record in the group stage.
Nam was the main man behind the goal-scoring spree of team-mates Youssef El Arabi and captain Youssef Msakni, who ended up as the best scorers in the QNB Stars League with 26 and 25 goals respectively.
Last season’s Most Valuable Player award was a clear proof of his great skills, potential and talent.
Xavi Hernandez (Al Sadd)
Xavi Hernandez is the greatest star to have descended on Qatar football in terms of credentials and achievements.
Xavi, a FIFA World Cup winner with Spain in 2010, is Al Sadd’s regular captain ever since he joined them in 2015 after winning the La Liga and Champions League with Barcelona that season. He thus ended a 17-year career in the Catalan club’s first team, during which he won eight league titles and four Champions Leagues.
The midfield maestro led Al Sadd to a cup double last season when they won the Qatar Cup and Emir’s Cup. This time, his contributions were big as The Wolves ended up as runners-up in the QNB Stars League and reached the knockout stage of AFC Champions League.
Xavi, easily the most highly-decorated player ever to grace the Qatar Stars League, was a leader of a talented Barcelona side that featured fellow La Masia products Carles Puyol and Andres Iniesta.
His style is considered as an embodiment of the pass and move method taught in the Barcelona system, and it was effective enough to help Barcelona to many titles.