The Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA) was recognised as the Asian Football Association (AFC) Developing Member Association of the Year at the AFC Annual Awards ceremony in New Delhi on Sunday.
The award is given to one of the 46 member associations of the AFC “in recognition of its professional administration and governance as well its exceptional contribution to the development and promotion of the game at all levels within the country.”
The increase in the ranking of the Hong Kong national football team – which rose from 156 last year to 145 – and the formation of the Hong Kong Premier League both helped Hong Kong to win the award.
Currently, Hong Kong is in second place of group C of the AFC World Cup qualification, with one last match versus Qatar to be played in March.
HKFA President Timothy Fok Tsun-ting received the award on behalf of HKFA.
The HKFA posted on its Facebook page that “This is absolutely an approval and confirmation of the association’s work and development from the AFC.”
Meanwhile, the AFC Foreign Player of the Year was Ricardo Goulart Pereira, of Guangzhou Evergrande. He beat Juan Belencoso of Hong Kong football club Kitchee.
China’s Guangzhou Evergrande club, which won the AFC Champions League – an annual continental club football competition – was awarded AFC Club of the Year.
However, Zheng Zhi, the club’s player and the Chinese national team’s captain, lost the AFC Player of the Year award to Ahmed Khalil of the United Arab Emirates
Zheng was involved in a controversy with Hong Kong goalkeeper Yapp Hung-fai at the China versus Hong Kong World Cup qualifier match on September 3. Yapp said Zheng called him “a dog.”