Who are the players vying for Asia's top gong?

It was a Gulf clean sweep for the 2014 Asian Player of the Year nominations.

Western Sydney Wanderers goalkeeper Ante Covic, whose superhuman effort kept his team in the Asian Champions League, was overlooked for the honour.

So who are the players who made the AFC's shortlist?

In contrast to last year, all three players nominated for the top gong are Arabic.

Saudi Arabian striker Nasser Al Shamrani, Qatari forward Khalfan Ibrahim and Emirati defender Ismail Ahmed, make up the trio heading to Manila for the ceremony on November 30, which also marks the 60th anniversary of the AFC.

Let’s have a closer look at the nominees, as all three will be crucial for their national side in the upcoming Gulf and Asian Cup.

Nasser Al Shamrani

Age – 30
Club – Al Hilal (KSA)
Position – Striker

Infamous for his post-match spat with Wanderers players Matthew Spiranovic and Tomi Juric, Al Shamrani is most commonly known as “Al Zirzar” (The Earthquake). He recently joined Al Hilal (KSA) from Al Shabab (KSA), to link up with his national team striking partner, Yasser Al Qahtani.

Al Shamrani scored three of the four goals in the Asian Champions League semi-final tie, giving him a total of six goals in the competition, second to Ghanaian striker Asamoah Gyan (7)

His form in the Saudi Arabian Professional League has been outstanding - the pint sized striker netting 39 goals, in 32 matches across all competitions as well as being the top goal scorer in five out of the last seven seasons in the Saudi Professional League.

In an interesting twist, the 30-year-old striker is contemplating whether to attend the awards ceremony. His attendance will rule him out of Saudi Arabia’s El Classico, between Al Hilal and Al Ittihad.

Khalfan Ibrahim

Age – 26
Club – Al Sadd (QAT)
Position – Forward

Khalfan Ibrahim became the first Qatari to win the Asian Player of the Year award in 2006. A remarkable achievement considering he was only 18-years-old at the time. This season has seen the resurgence of the dynamic Al Sadd (QAT) forward, who helped his team reach the quarter finals of the Asian Champions League.

Khalfan’s excellent domestic league form has seen him score 14 goals in just 26 appearances which led to interest from abroad. Both Turkish Super Lig club Besiktas, and Saudi Arabian club Al Nasser, were rumoured to sign the Qatari international in the off season. However both clubs were stalled by Al Sadd management’s reluctance to release the forward.

Khalfan has replicated his domestic form at international level, recently scoring the winner against Australia in a friendly played in Doha.

Ismail Ahmed

Age - 31
Club - Al Ain (UAE)

Position - Centre Back

Ismail Ahmed will be hoping to be the first Emirati to win the Asian Player of the Year after a string of impressive performances in the Arabian Gulf League and the Asian Champions League for his club Al Ain.

Ismail was a pivotal player in Al Ain’s semi-final run in this year’s Asian Champions League, his side conceding only 14 goals in 12 ACL matches. Ismail also contributed at the other end of the pitch with a goal against Al Ittihad in the quarter finals of the ACL.

The Moroccan-born player who joined Al Ain back in 2008 has developed into one of the best centre backs in Asia, with an aptitude to play on the ball he allows his team to build the attack from defensive positions.

MAIN PIC: Saudi forward, Nasser Al Shamrani