Senegal and Liverpool’s forward, Sadio Mane, was crowned 2019 Africa’s Best Player at the Confederation of African Football’s (CAF) Awards that took place in Egypt Tuesday night. The 27-year old Senegalese came off the shadow of his Liverpool teammate, Mohamed Salah who he has played second fiddle to twice in the last three editions to emulate his compatriot El Hajj Diouf as winner of the topmost honor in African football. Diouf won the award in 2002.
Both Salah and Algerian Riyad Mahrez were second and third in the votes to select the winner of the 2019 Best Player of the year. Mane helped the Reds to the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League title, scoring 30 goals in all competitions last season. He has scored 15 goals so far in 2019-20, with Liverpool 13 points clear at the top of the Premier League table.
He was also Senegal’s main man at the 2019 AFCON where he netted three goals on the Teranga Lions’ path to the final where they lost by a solitary goal to Mahrez’s Algeria. “I’m really happy and proud to win this. Football is my job, I love it,” said Mane shortly after he was presented with his award at the ceremony by a past winner, Cameroonian Samuel Eto’o. “I would like to thank my family, my national team, staff, the federation and Liverpool Football Club. It’s a big day for me,” gushed the shy but lethal forward. Neither Salah, who won the award in both the past two years, nor Mahrez were present.
Nigeria’s Asisat Oshoala was the only Nigerian male or female player that made it to the podium last night. The Barcelona Ladies forward won the Best Female Player of the Year for the record fourth time (2014, 2016 and 2017 and 2019) to emulate the achievement of Perpetual Nkwocha who won in 2004, 2005, 2010 and 2011.
On the night that the best of African footballers were honored, Nigerians were shocked that Wilfred Ndidi was left out of Africa’s Best XI. Joel Matip that refused to play for Cameroon at AFCON 2019 was shockingly included in the Best XI. Midfielder Gana Gueye was selected ahead of Leicester City’s Ndidi.
For the Best Goal of 2019, Mahrez’s added time goal scored to send Nigeria out of contention for the final match of the 2019 AFCON last July was adjudged as the best for the year. The goal beat five other nominated for Goal of the Year in the CAF Awards.
Mahrez, a striker for English Premier League side, Manchester City cleverly curved the ball round a disorganised Nigerian defence line in a 95th minute direct free kick at the semifinals of the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt. Before then, score line had been stalemated at 1-1 thus making the goal the winner and major step to Algeria’s winning their first title in 29 years.
Similarly, Nigeria’s duo of Victor Osimhen and Samuel Chukwueze were beaten to the African Youth Player of the Year award by Morocco’s Achraf Hakimi. Also, Algeria beat Madagascar and Senegal to the African Men’s National Team of the Year.
In the women’s category, Cameroon beat both Nigeria and South Africa. Cameroon’s Indomitable Lionesses beat both Nigeria’s Super Falcons and Banyana Banyana of South Africa to Best Female National Team of the Year.
Algeria’s Coach Djamel Belmadi was crowned Men’s African Coach of the Year after a historic AFCON 2019 victory. South Africa’s Desiree Ellis was named Women’s African Coach of the Year. TP Mazembe’s Moise Katumbi crowned African Club President of the Year
*Men’s Best Player of the Year- Sadio Mane (Senegal)
*Women’s Best Player of the Year – Asisat Oshoala (Nigeria)
*Men’s Coach of the Year- Djamel Belmadi (Algeria)
*Youth Player of the Year- Achraf Hakimi
*African Team of the Year- Algeria
*Women’s Team of the Year- Cameroon
*Women’s Coach of the Year- Desiree Ellis (South Africa)
*African Interclub Player of the Year- Tarek Hamed
*AFRICAN BEST XI
1) Andre Onana, 2) Serge Aurier, 3) Joel Matip, 4) Khalidou Koulibaly, 5) Achraf Hakimi, 6) Idrissa Gueye, 7) Riyad Mahrez, 8) Hakim Ziyech, 9) Mohamed Salah, 10) Pierre Aubameyang, 11) Sadio Mane