On the 24 man list, there are only two representatives from Southeast Asia. Along with Quang Hai, Filipino goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, who stars in the English Premier League for Cardiff City, is the other Southeast Asian nominated.
“Nguyen Quang Hai started the year playing a major part in Vietnam reaching the final of the AFC U-23 Championship and continued his fine performances throughout 2018, culminating in a brilliant showing that won him the Most Valuable Player prize as Vietnam won the AFF Suzuki Cup for only the second time in their history”, wrote FOX Sports football editor John Duerden.
First launched in 2013, the Best Footballer in Asia 2018 award is one of the most prestigious events of the year for Asian footballers.
This year, 42 leading journalists from across the national associations of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) will vote for the candidates.
The 24 shortlisted players for the Best Footballer in Asia 2018 include:
1. Akram Afif (CLB Al Sadd, Qatar)
2. Alireza Beiranvand (Persepolis, Iran)
3. Marcus Berg (Al Ain, Sweden)
4. Baghdad Bounedjah (Al Sadd, Algeria)
5. Sunil Chhetri (Bengaluru, India)
6. Neil Etheridge (Cardiff City, the Philippines)
7. Salman Al Faraj (Al Hilal, Saudi Arabia)
8. Makoto Hasebe (Eintracht Frankfurt, Japan)
9. Abdelkarim Hassan (Al Sadd, Qatar)
10. Hwang Ui-jo (Gamba Osaka, the Republic of Korea)
11. Takashi Inui (Eibar/Real Betis, Japan)
12. Alireza Jahanbakhsh (AZ Alkmaar/Brighton & Hove, Iran)
13. Cho Hyun-woo (Daegu, the Republic of Korea)
14. Valery Kichin (Yenisey, Kyrgyzstan)
15. Kwoun Sun-tae (Kashima Antlers, the Republic of Korea)
16. Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield Town, Australia)
17. Nguyễn Quang Hải (Hanoi FC, Vietnam)
18. Yuya Osako (Koln/Werder Bremen, Japan)
19. Matthew Ryan (Brighton & Hove Albion, Australia)
20. Serginho (America Mineiro/Kashima Antlers, Brazil)
21. Gen Shoji (Kashima Antlers, Japan)
22. Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur, the Republic of Korea)
23. Yuma Suzuki (Kashima Antlers, Japan)
24. Wu Lei (Shanghai SIPG, China)