Zheng Zhi gears up for AFC player 2012
Updated: 2012-11-29 16:43
KUALA LUMPUR - Chinese national football team skipper Zheng Zhi hopes his nomination for the 2012 AFC Player of the Year could push forward the development of football in China.
Zheng said it was an honor for him to be nominated for the award, together with the Iranian midfielder Mohammad Ali Karimi who won the 2004 award and South Korean striker Lee Keun-ho.
"It's an honor for me to be nominated as the AFC Player of the Year together with two of the best footballers in Asia," he said during a press conference on Wednesday.
"In fact, the nomination for three of us will be a motivation for the development of football in our countries respectively."
Asian soccer player, South Korean Lee Keun-ho (L), China's Zheng Zhi (C) and Iranian Mohammad Ali Karimi pose for a picture as the nominees for the 2012 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Player of the Year award at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Nov 28, 2012. [Photo/CFP]
The three nominees have equal chances to win the award to be unveiled on Thursday, he said.
The Asian Football Confederation website hailed the 32-year-old for "a series of impressive displays" as his Guangzhou Evergrande reached the quarterfinals of this year's AFC Champions League (ACL) competition on their continental debut.
Zheng signed with Guangzhou Evergrande in 2010 after spells in former English Premier League team Charlton Athletic and Scottish giants Celtic.
He is also the key player of the Chinese national team coached by Spaniard Jose Antonio Camacho.
Zheng said playing in Europe would be a special experience for every player in Asia, and has helped him a lot in his career.
Meanwhile, the training and matches with Guangzhou Evergrande have help him keep up the form to stay in high level in the club and national team matches.
He is looking forward to bring his club for a better performance for the new season, especially in the AFC Champions League, Zheng said.
Although Guangzhou Evergrande made a breakthrough for Chinese football clubs in the AFC Champions League this year, while winning both the league title and FA Cup in China, Zheng remained a long shot for the award, as the Chinese national team failed to qualify for the final round of Asian qualifier for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Lee Keun-ho, who contributed several important goals in helping the Ulsan Hyundai claim the AFL champion and named the Most Valuable Player of the competition, is considered as the leading contender for the award.