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Matildas' star Sam Kerr finalist for top Asian player of 2017

Jason Dasey and Gary Phillips assess what Australia must improve upon ahead of the 2018 World Cup.
Australia won the inaugural Tournament of Nations with their third and most decisive victory of the competition over Brazil.
Australia's Mark Milligan and Bailey Wright recap a long qualifying campaign and what to expect from them at the World Cup.

Australia's Sam Kerr is on the three-player shortlist for the Asian Women's Player of the Year, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced on Saturday.

Kerr was controversially excluded from the final list of nominees for FIFA equivalent award in September, despite a stellar season for the Matildas and Perth Glory. Japan's Saki Kumagai and Sung Hyang-Sim of North Korea are also on the shortlist, but Kerr is the front runner to win the top prize.

The 24-year-old's exclusion from the final shortlist for the FIFA award in September was greeted with surprise by teammates and fellow players, with the award eventually being won by Lieke Martens of the Netherlands.

China's Wu Lei, meanwhile, joins reigning Asian Player of the Year Omar Abdulrahman on the men's three-man list for the AFC award, along with Syrian striker Omar Khribin.

Sam Kerr was surprisingly excluded from the final shortlist for September's FIFA Play of the Year award.

Wu, who helped Shanghai SIPG reach the semifinals of this year's AFC Champions League (ACL), lost out to Abdulrahman 12 months ago, and the two go head-to-head again.

Khribin's scoring record saw him play a key role in Al Hilal reaching the final of the ACL where they face Urawa Red Diamonds over two legs. And he helped Syria move close to their first-ever World Cup.

None of those featuring on the men's list will travel at next year's World Cup in Russia. That means the confederation will not have its leading player at the tournament, despite sending a record five teams to the finals.

The winners of the awards will be announced at the awards' ceremony in Bangkok on Nov. 29.

Michael Church has written about Asian football for more than 20 years and mainly covers the Chinese game for ESPN FC. Twitter: @michaelrgchurch

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