Mane, Salah, Mahrez headline nominations for CAF African Player of the Year

Senegalese forward Sadio Mane, Egypt’s talisman Mohamed Salah and Algerian winger Riyad Mahrez are yet again in the running to be named CAF African Player of the Year.

The trio has won the prestigious award since 2016 with Mahrez claiming it first before Salah won it twice consecutively in 2017 and 2018 and Mane clinched in 2019, the last time the awards were held before COVID-19 forced a break.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) on Monday released a list of nominees for the men’s categories of this year’s CAF Awards.

The list of 10 nominees is dominated by players from North and West Africa and features individuals who have had sterling campaigns in the last season.

Mane, the reigning player of the year, won two trophies with his former club Liverpool and helped Senegal win the Africa Cup of Nations in February and qualify for the FIFA World Cup.

Mane also became Senegal’s all-time leading goalscorer surpassing Henri Camara’s previous record.

FILE PHOTO: Sadio Mane of Senegal kisses his winners medal after winning the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 final match between Senegal and Egypt at Stade d’Olembe in Yaounde. /CFP

Salah also won silverware with Liverpool and finished joint top scorer in the Premier League though he fell short of International glory with Egypt losing the AFCON final and missing out on qualifying for the World Cup, both times to Senegal.

Salah also was the Premier League’s leading assist provider and won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year.

Meanwhile, Mahrez, a former winner of the honor like Salah, won the Premier League with Manchester City netting 11 league goals and nine goals in a semifinal run in the Champions League.

However, Mahrez endured a nightmare in Cameroon as Algeria failed to mount a serious defence of its AFCON title exiting the tournament in the group stages.

It includes Cote d’Ivoire striker Sebastien Haller who finished top scorer in the Dutch Eredivisie with 21 goals for champions Ajax Amsterdam. Haller also broke several scoring records in the Champions League ending the campaign with 11 goals, including becoming only the second player after Cristiano Ronaldo to score in every group match.

This was Haller’s debut campaign in Europe’s elite club competition.

FILE PHOTO: Cote d’Ivoire striker Sebastien Haller had a stellar season for former club Ajax Amsterdam of the Netherlands. /CFP

Also in the list are Cameroonians Vincent Aboubacar, who finished top scorer at this year’s AFCON, and Karl Toko Ekambi, who was also instrumental in Cameroon’s third-place finish at the AFCON and Olympique Lyon’s eighth-place league finish and quarterfinal run in the Europa League.

Senegalese duo Edouard Mendy and Kalidou Koulibaly helped Senegal win the AFCON and qualify for the World Cup. They also helped their respective clubs, Chelsea and Napoli, finish third in their leagues. Mendy, however, narrowly missed out on club silverware losing both the FA and Carabao Cups to Liverpool on penalties.

Guinean midfielder Naby Keita enjoyed similar success at Liverpool and led his country to a Round of 16 finish in the Africa Cup of Nations.

The only defender among the nominees is Moroccan right-back Achraf Hakimi who helped his club Paris Saint-Germain win the French league and Morocco reach the quarterfinals of the AFCON.

The CAF Awards 2022 will be held in Morocco’s capital, Rabat, on July 21.

(Story compiled with assistance from wire reports)