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CAF: Celebrating Africa’s Finest Footballers

Africa’s best footballers will be celebrated by the Confederation of African Football at an Awards Gala in the capital of Senegal, Dakar on January 8.

The accolades to be handed out include; Men’s Player of the Year, Women’s Player of the Year, Men’s Coach of the Year, Women’s Coach of the Year, Youth player of the year, Men’s National Team of the Year and Women’s National Team of the Year.

Egypt’s Mohamed Salah, Senegal’s Sadio Mane and Gabon’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were announced on Monday as the best three players on the continent. This will be second year running the trio have battled it out for the prestigious prize.

Well, it is very hard to take it away from Mohamed Salah, yes all they scored goals but when you look at him, the statistics are on his side.

For the best female footballer on the continent, Nigerian duo Asisat Oshoala and Francisca Ordega, and South African Chrestinah Thembi Kgatlana made the final three for the Women’s Player of the Year 2018.

History-making French coaches Nicolas Dupuis and Corentin Martins are among nominations for the best coach award.

Dupuis has qualified Madagascar for the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time and Martins achieved a similar feat with Mauritania.

We talked to Clive Kyazze, a sports analyst based in Uganda, to give us his assessment of Africa’s best footballers over the past 12 months.

What do you make of the predictability of the nominees? Is it a question of consistency by the top players or a limited scope by CAF?

I think the top three players have been consistent. When you look at Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, and their performances at Liverpool. They have really tried to put in a good shift, just like Aubameyang, from the time he was bought by Arsenal in January,he has really had a good year for them. When you look at all the three players, you could say they are really the best performing Africans out there.

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Who do you reckon will be crowned the African Player of the Year, come January 8?

Well, it is very hard to take it away from Mohamed Salah, yes all they scored goals but when you look at him, the statistics are on his side. He scored very important goals for Liverpool, just like Sadio Mane, but you want to believe that Salah scored more goals and broke records in the English Premier League. His goals took the team to the finals of the Champions League, and he was also influential in making sure Egypt qualify for the World Cup in Russia, which is the same with Sadio Mane, but you want to believe that Mohamed Salah’s statistics are a bit better than those of Sadio Mane.

What are your thoughts on the AFCON 2019 host announcement that will come after the awards? What’s the best case scenario for Africa, considering the hosting crisis?

Well, it’s a tight one because both were approached by CAF. Initially, South Africa were approached, and they showed interest in hosting it. Egypt were later approached, they showed interest in hosting it. But now, it now all goes down back to CAF. South Africa last hosted AFCON in 2013, Egypt last hosted it in 2006, but it will still go down to things like security, infrastructure and all that. You want to believe that both countries have what it takes to host an international tournament, but this is a 24-team tournament that has not been hosted before by an African country, its the first time we are going to have it. South Africa have hosted the World Cup before, of 32 teams, that gives them an edge. Egypt have probably never hosted a tournament of more than 16 teams, so its going to be a little bit hard for them, but also with ongoing insecurity issues in Egypt and the violence of their fans and all that, you would want to believe that South Africa will have an edge ahead of Egypt.

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