The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has announced the first shortlist of 15 players who are in contention for the prestigious AFC Player of the Year 2009 award.

Japan have three players in the list, which will be revised after each match day until the award is given out in late November.

Two Saudi and DPR Korea players have also made the cut. Bahrain, Iran, Syria, China, Indonesia, Qatar, Uzbekistan and Maldives have one nominee for the award, which goes to the best player in Asia, at this stage.

Making the initial list are Japanese internationals Kengo Nakamura (Kawasaki Frontale), Yasuhito Endo (Gamba Osaka) and AFC Champions League semi-finalists Nagoya Grampus defender Yoshida Maya.

Though, Kawasaki and Gamba are no longer in the AFC Champions League fray, Nakamura and Endo have chances to earn valuable points when Japan meet Hong Kong on Thursday and on November 18 in the 2011 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers.

Sayed Mohamed Adnan, whose heroics at the back earned Bahrain an inter-continental play-off berth, also made it to the list along side Iran and Sepahan defender Hadi Aghily.

Saudi Arabia’s Nasser Al Shamrani and Mohammed Noor, DPR Korea’s Hong Yong-jo and Ri Myong-guk, Syrian Firas Al Khatib, China’s Li Weifeng, Indonesian Markus Rihihina, Qatar and Umm Salal goalkeeper Baba Malick, Uzbekistan’s Alexander Geynrikh and Maldives’ Ali Ashgaq are also on the roster.

The winner is chosen on the basis of a weighted ranking system which takes into account Most Valuable Player nominations at key AFC and FIFA tournaments (see below). Server Djeparov (Bunyodkor and Uzbekistan) is the reigning AFC Player of the Year.

The Nominees:

Alexander Geynrikh (Uzbekistan) Pakhtakor
Ali Ashfaq (Maldives) VB
Baba Malick (Qatar) Umm Salal
Firas Al Khatib (Syria) Al Arabi/Al Qadsiya
Hadi Aghily (Iran) Sepahan
Hong Yong Jo (North Korea) Rostov, Russia
Kengo Nakamura, (Japan) Kawasaki Frontale
Li Weifeng (China) Suwon Bluewings, Korea
Markus Rihihina (Indonesia) PSMS Medan
Maya Yoshida, (Japan) Nagoya Grampus
Mohammed Noor, (Saudi Arabia) Al Ittihad
Nassir Al Shamrani, (Saudi Arabia) Al Shabab
Ri Myong Guk (North Korea) Pyongyang Athletics Club
Sayed Mohamed Adnan (Bahrain) Al Khor
Yasuhito Endo, (Japan) Gamba Osaka,