Mainland has failed to produce anyone worthy of player of year list - Velappan
Chinese players have been ignored for the 2005 Asian Player of the Year Award because of the country's shambolic league and their failure to qualify for the World Cup, officials said yesterday.
Peter Velappan, general secretary of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), said China have failed to make an impact on regional football since reaching the Asian Cup final in August, 2004.
Manchester United's South Korean international Park Ji-sung was one of three English Premiership players among 10 shortlisted by the confederation yesterday. Park, his compatriot, Lee Young-pyo, of Tottenham Hotspur and Bolton Wanderers' Japanese international Hidetoshi Nakata are on the list along with European-based Shunsuke Nakamura, of Japan (Celtic, Scotland), reigning champion Ali Karimi, of Iran (Bayern Munich, Germany) and Uzbekistan's Maksim Shatskikh (Dynamo Kiev, Ukraine).
Four Asian-based players have made the cut: Sami Al Jaber (Al-Hilal, Saudi Arabia), Hamad Al-Montashari and Mabrouk Zayed (both Al-Ittihad, Saudi Arabia) and Javad Nekounam (Pas, Iran).
Said Velappan: 'In the case of China, no player at this moment is worthy of mention in the top 10. They didn't qualify for the World Cup in Germany and the C-League has been going through some turbulent times.
'Quite simply, we have not seen any player of quality who can win a place. The 10 players in the final list have been selected on merit.'
China, who made their World Cup debuts in South Korea and Japan in 2002, were edged by Kuwait in the preliminary stages of the Asian Zone World Cup qualifiers earlier this year.
In addition, their domestic league has been plagued by accusations of mismanagement, match-fixing and corrupt refereeing. China's only hope of Asian glory for 2005 is Shenzhen Jianlibao, in the semi-finals of the AFC Champions League.
But the Chinese side, who are struggling domestically, must overturn a 6-0 first-leg deficit against United Arab Emirates' Al-Ain on Wednesday if they are to progress to the final.
Velappan, however, believes China will bounce back. As head of AFC's Vision Asia programme, created two years ago to improve the standards of regional football, Velappan believes China are on the road to recovery.
'Vision Asia has been launched in two pilot cities in China and is being expanded to more cities,' said Velappan.
'We are really expecting China to bounce back in three to five years when they should be one of the leading countries in Asia.
'They have all the potential, all they need is a good system to groom them through the whole process. Vision China will take care of that.'
The 10 nominees will be trimmed to three players on November 14 with the winner to be announced on November 30.
AFC Player of the Year nominees: Sami Al Jaber (Nationality: Saudi Arabia; Club: Al Hilal, Saudi Arabia) Hamad Al Montashari (Saudi Arabia; Al Ittihad, Saudi Arabia) Ali Karimi (Iran; Bayern Munich, Germany) Lee Young-pyo (South Korea; Tottenham Hotspur, England) Shunsuke Nakamura (Japan; Celtic, Scotland) Hidetoshi Nakata (Japan; Bolton Wanderers, England) Javad Nekounam (Iran; Pas, Iran) Park Ji-sung (South Korea; Manchester United, England) Maksim Shatskikh (Uzbekistan; Dynamo Kiev, Ukraine) Mabrouk Zayed (Saudi Arabia; Al Ittihad, Saudi Arabia).