Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah renew rivalry with top African award up for grabs

Another chapter in the personal rivalry between former Liverpool team-mates Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah will play out in Rabat on Thursday.

Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah renew rivalry with top African award up for grabs
Another chapter in the personal rivalry between former Liverpool team-mates Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah will play out in Rabat on Thursday. Photo: CAF

Another chapter in the personal rivalry between former Liverpool team-mates Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah will play out in Rabat on Thursday when the annual African award winners are announced.

Mane was a key figure in the Senegal team that defeated Salah-captained Egypt in the 2021/22 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) final and in a 2022 Soccer World Cup playoff.

Both the African title decider in Cameroon and the Qatar eliminator in Senegal were won by the Teranga Lions after penalty shootouts.

Mane scored in each shootout while the final was decided before Salah could take his kick, and he blazed wide in the playoff. Sadio Mane has left Liverpool for Bayern Munich

The Senegalese successes have made Mane favourite to win a second straight Player of the Year award after 2019 – the following two editions were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Should Sadio Mane win in the Moroccan capital, he will become the first Bayern Munich star to be voted the top African footballer.

The closest a player from the German giants has come to winning was in 1999 and 2001 when Ghanaian Samuel Kuffour finished second.

Mane moved to Bayern last month on a three-year deal after joining Liverpool in 2016 from Southampton and Anfield boss Jurgen Klopp calls him “a complete forward”.

“My only criticism of Sadio is that maybe at times he is the only one not to realise just how good he is.”

Liverpool defender Andy Robertson hailed the predatory instincts of the 30-year-old: “Whenever he is in front of the goal you do not think he will miss.”

Salah lifted the award in 2017 and 2018 and the victory of Mane the following year raised to four the number of winners from Liverpool with another Senegalese, El Hadji Diouf, topping the 2002 vote.

The Egyptian had an outstanding 2021-2022 season for the Reds, sharing the Golden Boot award with South Korean Son Heung-min of Tottenham Hotspur.

Salah was voted Premier League Player of the Season by both the Professional Footballers’ Association and the Football Writers’ Association.

Algeria captain and Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez is the other former winner among the 10 nominees having come first in 2016 after helping rank outsiders Leicester City become Premier League champions.

Mahrez and Algeria have struggled lately, however, with the defending champions making a humiliating first round exit from the Cup of Nations, then losing a World Cup play-off against Cameroon.

The 10 candidates for the Club Player of the Year include Brazilian Tiago Azulao, whose chart-topping seven goals in the CAF Champions League took Angolan outfit Petro Luanda to a surprise semi-finals spot.

South Africans dominate women hopefuls

South Africans dominate the Women’s Player of the Year nominees with 2018 winner Thembi Kgatlana, Andile Dlamini, Refiloe Jane and Bambanani Mbane among 10 hopefuls.

Ghana, notable absentees from the ongoing Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco after losing a first round qualifier against Nigeria, have two representatives, Evelyn Badu and Doris Boaduwaa.

Nigeria, the powerhouse of women’s football in Africa for decades, have one candidate, highly decorated Asisat Oshoala, who plays for 2022 European Champions League runners-up Barcelona.

Ruled out of the Cup of Nations in Morocco by injury, Oshoala has been voted African Player of the Year four times, most recently in 2019.

Choosing the best women’s national team will be delayed until after the Cup of Nations final between Morocco and South Africa in Rabat on Saturday.

African football legends, CAF technical committee members, coaches and captains of national teams and of some clubs and selected media pick the winners. Confederation of African Football (CAF) awards contenders ahead of ceremony in Rabat on Thursday at 21:00 SA time:

MEN

Player of the Year

Kalidou Koulibaly, Sadio Mane, Edouard Mendy (all SEN), Vincent Aboubakar, Karl Toko Ekambi (both CMR), Achraf Hakimi (MAR), Sebastien Haller (CIV), Naby Keita (GUI), Riyad Mahrez (ALG), Mohamed Salah (EGY)

Club Player of the Year

Aliou Dieng, Ali Maaloul, Mohamed el Shenawy, Mohamed Sherif, Percy Tau (all Al Ahly/EGY), Achraf Dari, Yahya Jabrane, Zouheir el Moutaraji (all Wydad Casablanca/MAR), Tiago Azulao (Petro Luanda/ANG), Karim Konate (ASEC Mimosas/CIV)

Young Player of the Year

Konate (CIV), Hannibal Mejbri (TUN), Dango Ouattara (BUR), Pape Matar Sarr (SEN), Kamaldeen Sulemana (GHA)

Coach of the Year

Aliou Cisse (SEN), Pitso Mosimane (Ahly), Walid Regragui (Wydad), Tom Saintfiet (GAM), Carlos Queiroz (EGY)

National team of the Year

Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Egypt, Morocco, Senegal

Club of the Year

Renaissance Berkane, Wydad (both MAR), Ahly, Orlando Pirates (RSA), Petro Luanda

WOMEN

Player of the Year

Andile Dlamini, Refiloe Jane, Thembi Kgatlana, Bambanani Mbane (all RSA), Evelyn Badu, Doris Boaduwaa (both GHA), Grace Chanda (ZAM), Ghizlane Chebbak (MAR), Ajara Njoya (CMR), Asisat Oshoala (NGR)

Club Player of the Year

Dlamini, Mbane, Andisiwe Mgcoyi (all Mamelodi Sundowns/RSA), Chebbak, Sanaa Mssoudy, Fatima Tagnaout (all AS FAR/MAR), Badu, Boaduwaa (both Sekondi Hasaacas/GHA), Rose Bella (Malabo Kings/GEQ), Gift Monday (Rivers Angels/NGR)

Young Player of the Year

Badu, Boaduwaa (both GHA), Monday, Flourish Sebastine (both NGR), Yasmine Zouhir (MAR)

Coach of the Year

Yusif Basigi (Hasaacas), Serigne Cisse (SEN), Desiree Ellis (RSA), Samir Landolsi (TUN), Bruce Mwape (ZAM), Gaoletlhoo Nkutlwisang (BOT), Reynald Pedros (MAR), Jerry Tshabalala (Sundowns), Randy Waldrum (NGR), Gabriel Zabo (CMR)

Club of the Year

FAR, Kings, Sundowns, Angels, Hasaacas

National team of the Year

Winner to be announced after Cup of Nations final between Morocco and South Africa in Rabat this Saturday.

By Garrin Lambley © Agence France-Presse

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