It has been an eventful year for African football. The events across the planet may have affected some of its programmes, but not enough to halt its progress. Over the year, there was enough to judge players as they put up exciting and scintillating displays.
The CAF awards took place on Thursday. It was a colourful event. There were no surprises as the winners reflected the minds of millions of African football lovers. The crowning award on the evening was the player of the year for the men.
While there were awards for different categories, the battle was between Sadio Mane, Edouard Mendy and Mohamed Salah, and at the end of the night, the fans were not disappointed.
Sadio Mane, who recently joined Bayern Munich, has started racking up the accolades. The Senegalese player was in a tight race with former Liverpool teammate Mo Salah and Senegal compatriot Edouard Mendy for the best player on the continent. Many tipped Salah to win for his many goals this season.
Sadio Mane was named the African Football of the Year. He beat Mo Salah (Liverpool) and Edouard Mendy (Chelsea) to the award at a ceremony in Rabat, Morocco.
The performance of Sadio Mane was enough to win him the award.
Mane was not the top scorer at Liverpool last season, but he contributed his quota towards the titles the Reds won. Mane scored 23 goals and was instrumental in helping Liverpool win the FA Cup and EFL Cup. He also helped Liverpool reach the Champions League final, where they lost 1-0 to Real Madrid. Liverpool also finished a point behind league winners Manchester City.
While Sadio Mane shared the accolades for club achievements with Salah, who scored more goals, it was on the international level that the Senegal forward outshone his club colleague. Mane inspired Senegal to glory in the Africa Cup of Nations in February. Despite missing a penalty during play, he scored the final spot-kick that handed the Cup of Nations to Senegal. Senegal beat Egypt and Salah in the final.
Salah scored two goals in the Africa Cup of Nations, one less than Mane, who scored three goals in the tournament. Mane also helped Senegal qualify for the World Cup, beating Egypt in the play-off final.
Sadio Mane received words of congratulations from Bayern president Herbert Hainer. He described Mane as an exceptional player, a great person and a fantastic ambassador for Senegal, football, Bayern Munich and the Bundesliga.
Bayern CEO Oliver Kahn also congratulated the Senegal forward. Kahn said he was delighted that Mane won the award, and it is a special honour to have him at the club. According to Kahn, Bayern have never had an African Player of the Year in their ranks.
Previous award winners include Mo Salah, Riyad Mahrez, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Yaya Toure, Samuel Eto’o, Didier Drogba and George Weah.
Nigerian international Asisat Oshoala received the women’s award for the fifth time. She helped Barcelona defend their league title. The Young Player of the Year award went to Tottenham teenager Pape Matar Sarr, who was part of Senegal’s AFCON-winning squad.
Aliou Cisse won the Coach of the year award for men, while the women’s award went to South African boss Desiree Ellis. Senegal also won the men’s National Team of the Year award, while the Goal of the Year prize went to Senegalese winger Pape Ousmane Sakho. The winger scored a stunning overhead kick.