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Sports News of Tuesday, 24 December 2019


CAF awards: Predicting every winner including African Player of the Year

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African Player of the Year

Any of the final three nominees are worthy nominees, with Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah having shone for Liverpool, and Riyad Mahrez enjoying great success with Algeria and Manchester City.

However, I’m going to plump for Mane, who was arguably unfortunate to have missed out on the Ballon d’Or earlier this year, where he ultimately finished fourth in the rankings.

The attacker was influential as Liverpool won the Champions League, winning the decisive penalty in the final, and almost single-handedly dispatched Bayern Munich away in March.

Mane also shared the Premier League Golden Boot with Salah, scoring 22 goals, and already has nine this term. Is it time for him to end his Egyptian teammate’s two-year hegemony of the award?

African Women’s Player of the Year

Ajara Nchout is my pick for African Women’s Player of the Year, with the Cameroon star shortlisted alongside Asisat Oshoala and Thembi Kgatlana.

She scored both of the Lionesses’ goals during their World Cup campaign, helping them reach the knockouts in the process, and her strike against New Zealand earned her a nomination for the Puskas Award.

She may not have won silverware for club or country, although her 15 goals did secure first ever Champions League participation for Valerenga.

African Interclubs Player of the Year

This one is Youcef Belaili’s to lose, even though Anice Badri also deserves credit for his contributions as Esperance clinched the Caf Champions League title.

As well as his contributions to Algeria’s Africa Cup of Nations success, where he weighed in with several key goals, Belaili stepped into the spotlight during the Tunisian giants’ run to the title.

He scored in both the quarter-final as well as the semi-final against Tout Puissant Mazembe, with his 51st-minute goal in the first leg ultimately sending El Taraji through to the final.

Belaili ultimately scored the only goal of the abandoned final against Wydad Casablanca, and could realistically have done better than moving to Al-Ahli of Saudi Arabia.

African Youth Player of the Year

All three of Achraf Hakimi, Samuel Chukwueze and Victor Osimhen are genuine contenders here, and each of the trio have a worthy claim to the gong.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Osimhen gets the nod based on his recent goalscoring form for LOSC Lille, but Hakimi has to be my pick here.

Injury notwithstanding, it’s been a magnificent year, in which he’s helped Borussia Dortmund maintain a title challenge last term, and demonstrated that he ought to already be considered among Africa’s finest defenders.

Africa Men’s Coach of the Year

I’m plumping for Djamel Belmadi here, following his Nations Cup-winning exploits with Algeria.

Not only did the local coach end Les Fennecs’ wait for the continental crown, but he ensured they did so in style.

Algeria blew teams away at times in Egypt, defeating Senegal – and fellow nominee Aliou Cisse – twice along the way, and Belmadi incorporated several Africa-based players in his talented team, which is likely to go down well with the voters.

African Women’s Coach of the Year

For me, Alain Djeumfa of Cameroon is the standout contender here.

Despite the controversies that accompanied the Lionesses at the World Cup, he still oversaw their passage to the knockouts, and has masterminded Cameroon’s route to the final playoff to decide Africa’s representatives at the 2020 Olympics.

To date, the Central Africans have eliminated Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Ivory Coast en route to January’s double-header against Zambia.

African Men’s National Team of the Year

I’d be stunned if Algeria didn’t win this award, even though Madagascar can look back on a fine year considering their heroics at the Nations Cup.

The North Africans obviously won the title emphatically, and it’s hard to see how voters would tip Senegal ahead of them. However, it’s not unheard of for a non-Afcon-winning team to win in an Afcon year, with Senegal (2002), Egypt (2017) and Ghana (2006 and 2010) some recent examples.

African Women’s National Team of the Year

Following something of a theme here, I’m plumping for Cameroon.

Only they and Zambia are still standing in the Olympic qualifying, and Shepolopolo haven’t made the final shortlist.

Nigeria also escaped from their World Cup 2019 group – as Cameroon did – but the Falcons have struggled in subsequent months.

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