Japan international captain Saki Kumagai was named the AFC Women’s Player of the Year at the 2019 AFC Annual Awards on Monday.
Highly regarded as one of Asia’s most accomplished footballers, Kumagai has experienced a fine year for club and country.
The 29-year-old began national duty in February as the Nadeshiko competed in the 2019 SheBelieves Cup.
The year also marked Kumagai’s sixth year with Olympique Lyonnais, and she assisted the French club to a fourth consecutive UEFA Women’s Champions League title in April.
One of Kumagai’s highlights of the season was wearing the Nadeshiko captain’s armband for the first time in the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019. Her exceptional leadership saw Japan progress to the Round of 16 as Group D runners-up.
Japan, however, were denied further progress by Netherlands but despite the heartbreak, Kumagai has earned her place as AFC Women’s Player of the Year alongside an elite cast that includes compatriots Aya Miyama, Homare Sawa and Natsuko Hara.