India football captain Bhaichung Bhutia has been named as one of the contenders to receive a top Asian award by a pan-Arab Abu Dhabi soccer weekly, 'Super'. The Arabian soccer weekly is honouring top players in Asia, Africa and other Arabian countries and the award carries a purse of $100,000 in each category. Italian World Cup final referee Pierluigi Collina has been roped in as president of the board of trustees for the award sponsored by Sheikh Hazaa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi who is also the chairman of the city's sports council.
Bhutia is one of the 43 candidates in fray for the top footballer of Asia award. The list includes South Korean and Manchester United winger Park Ji Sung, Japan's playmaker Shunsuke Nakamura, Thai striker Nantawat Thansopa, Saudi Arabia's Yasser Al Qahtani and Iraq's Nashaat Akram. "It feels great to be nominated. It is always nice and wonderful to be noticed for your hard work," said an elated Bhutia who is now in Goa for the national camp. The candidates for the African player award include several stars playing in top clubs of Europe including Didier Drogba, Emmanuel Adebayor, Michael Essien, Mahamadou Diarra, Frederic Kanoute and Amir Zaki.