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AFC Champions League: Aspire graduate Salman among nominees for best west-region centre-back

The Al-Sadd defender is up for the accolade along with players such as Al-Duhail’s Moroccan international Mehdi Benatia.

Qatar's defender Tarek Salman controls the ball during the World Cup 2022 Asian qualifying match between Qatar and Oman at the Janoub Stadium in the Qatari capital Doha on October 15, 2019. (Photo by KARIM JAAFAR / AFP) (Photo by KARIM JAAFAR/AFP via
KARIM JAAFARAFP via Getty Images

Al-Sadd’s Qatari defender Tarek Salman, who is a graduate of the Aspire Academy of Sports Excellence, is among the contenders to be named the best centre-back in the west region of this year’s AFC Champions League.

The AFC has announced a list of 14 defenders, from whom fans have until Saturday to vote for their favourite right-back, left-back and centre-back. Among the central defenders competing with Salman are Moroccan Mehdi Benatia, who plays for Al-Duhail, and Iranian Shoja’ Khalilzadeh of Persepolis.

Salman excels in Al-Sadd's AFC Champions League campaign

Salman’s nomination for best west-region centre-back comes in the wake of a 2020 AFC Champions League in which his figures included a passing accuracy rate of 90.1%, a tackle success rate of 71%, and 13 clearances.

Although Al-Sadd’s AFC Champions League run was brought to an end by Persepolis in the last 16, the Qatari side impressed on their way to reaching the knockout rounds. Salman shone at the back, and his passing statistics reflect his commitment to always clearing the danger by adhering to the team’s philosophy of keeping the ball on the ground.

Benatia, one of the most well-known defenders in the AFC Champions League, won two-thirds of the duels he was involved in and on average recovered the ball just under eight times a match.

Kanaani, Maicon and Madu also up for accolade

In addition to Salman, Benatia and Khalilzadeh, the list of nominees for best centre-back features Persepolis’ Hossein Kanaani, and Saudi club Al-Nassr’s Maicon and Abdullah Madu.


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