KUALA LUMPUR – World Cup-winning midfielder Aya Miyama was named Asian women’s player of the year as Japan cleaned up at the Asian Football Confederation Awards on Wednesday evening.
In a year in which the Nadeshiko won the Women’s World Cup and the Blue Samurai a record fourth Asian Cup, Japan took home nine of the 19 available awards.
Miyama, who is also shortlisted for the FIFA Women’s Player of the Year Award alongside teammate Homare Sawa, beat out another teammate in Japan goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori to capture the most prestigious individual honor in the Asian game.
Sawa, the MVP and top scorer of this summer’s Women’s World Cup, had been nominated but did not attend the awards, making herself ineligible to win.
“It’s such a big surprise,” said Miyama, who is one of 10 nominees for world player of the year honors to be decided on FIFA Ballon d’Or night on Jan. 9.
“I appreciate this great AFC award. I would like to dedicate the award to my family and teammates of my club and the national team.”
The ever humble Miyama tried to deflect the spotlight onto the rest of the team.
“It’s not an honor that’s been relevant to me up until now, and I wonder if I deserve it,” she said. “It’s a team sport. I think it’s great for the team if one of us wins an individual award because it’s a reflection of the team, but me personally, I’m not one to bask in it.
“It was a hectic year. We went from winning the World Cup straight into Olympic qualifying in such a short amount of time, which is something none of us has ever done before.
“But it was such a rewarding year.”