United’s Kagawa earns AFC honor


Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa was named the Asian Football Confederation’s inaugural international player of the year on Thursday.

Nadeshiko captain Aya Miyama defended her title as the continent’s top women’s player, over reigning world player of the year Homare Sawa for leading Japan to a silver medal at the London Olympics.

At the AFC Annual Awards where Japan hauled in nine awards, Kagawa was chosen over his Japan teammate Yuto Nagatomo of Inter Milan and Fulham’s Australia goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.

The international player of the year was hatched by the AFC to recognize players who are good enough to be nominated for the regular Asian player of the year award, but cannot attend the ceremony itself — which is a prerequisite to win the award.

Japan Football Association president Kuniya Daini accepted on Kagawa’s behalf.

“I believe Kagawa will be very happy to receive this award in Manchester,” Daini said.

Nadeshiko was voted the best women’s national team, while Hanae Shibata was picked as the top women’s youth player. Asako Takemoto was selected as the best women’s coach.