The Confederation of African Football, CAF, will unveil the continent’s best footballer on Tuesday (tonight) in a ceremony in Cairo, Egypt.
The players have been shortlisted for the prestigious award.
Liverpool’s duo of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane are lined up alongside Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez in the final list of nominees of the 2019 African Player of the Year award.
Egypt’s Salah was crowned the continent’s top footballer in 2017 and 2018 while Mahrez won it in 2016. Mane on the other hand finished second in the last two years, coming third in 2016.
The Senegalese forward helped Liverpool to glory in the UEFA Champions League, European Super Cup and Club World Cup. He also led the Teranga Lions to a second-place finish at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. Mane also finished last season as joint Premier League top scorer with 22 goals alongside Salah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, in an all African affair.
Salah on the other hand won the same trophies as Mane, but saw his side crush out of the Round of 16.
Mahrez meanwhile was part of the Manchester City team that won the Premier League title, and he also let Algeria to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations where they beat Mane’s Senegal in the final.
The duo of Victor Osimhen and Samuel Chukwueze are up against Morocco’s Achraf Hakimi for the Young Player of the Year award.
Both Nigerians are gunning for the prestigious CAF prize that had previously been scooped by the likes of Obafemi Martins, Mikel Obi, Taye Taiwo, Etebo Oghenekaro, Kelechi Iheanacho, and Wilfred Ndidi.
While Osimhen will hope to win it for a second time just as Obafemi Martins and Kelechi Iheanacho did in the past, on the other hand, Chukwueze who caught the eye for La Liga outfit Villarreal with his exciting runs and tricky from the right-side of attack will be aiming to win the award for the first time.
Both Victor Osimhen and Samuel Chukwueze were members of the U-17 World Cup-winning team of 2015 with former winning the golden boot award with 10 goals, while Chukwueze won the bronze boot.
Former the women’s contest, Asisat Oshoala’s quest to equal her mentor and compatriot, Perpetua Nkwocha, who won the award a record four times – 2004, 2005, 2010, 2011, is under intense contest. This is because South African Thembi Kgatlana and Cameroon’s Ajara Njoya stand in her way to clinch a fourth African Women’s Player of the Year crown in Hurghada.
The 25-year-old Oshoala is a three-time winner- 2014, 2016 and 2017. She has scored 10 goals in 13 league appearances for Barcelona Ladies this season.
Inspite of all these, one major question that radiates the mind of many, is when will a Nigerian clinch the African best player again?
This is because it’s been 20 years since a Nigerian player won the CAF Player Of The Year Award and the wait will continue when the 2019 CAF Awards ceremony holds at the Albatros Citadel Sahl Hasheesh, Hurghada, Egypt tonight.
Nwankwo Kanu was the last recipient of the award in 1999, beating Ghanaian defender Samuel Kuffour and Ivorian striker Ibrahima Bakayoko to win the award.
Ever since, only two Super Eagles players Austin Okocha and Mikel Obi have made the final shortlist in over two decades.
Okocha finished runners-up in 1998 behind Morocco’s Mustapha Hadji. He also placed third in 2003 and 2004 behind Samuel Eto’o of Cameroon and Ivory Coast’s Didier Drogba.
Mikel on his part was runners-up when Ivory Coast’s Yaya Toure won the award in 2003.
Since inception of the prestigious awards, only four Nigerian players have won the CAF African Player of the Year award. Rashidi Yekini in 1993, Emmanuel Amuneke in 1994, Kanu in 1996, 1999 and Victor Ikpeba in 1997.
As football lovers await the emergence of a new African Footballer of the year, Nigerians are hopeful that the country will soon reclaim its original position in the round leather game.