Ighalo out as CAF names Mahrez, Salah, Mane as top contenders
Super Eagles’ retired striker, Odion Ighalo, who was Nigeria’s only remaining candidate among the five earlier shortlisted by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) for the continent’s Footballer of the Year Awards, has been eliminated from the contest. Instead, Egypt’s Mo Salah, Algeria’s Riyadh Mahrez, and Senegal’s Sadio Mane are the shortlisted stars for the awards, which winner will be made known on January 7 in the Egyptian resort of Hurghada.
In the final list of contenders named by CAF yesterday, three Nigerians made the cut in their respective categories.
The nominees were pruned to three following votes from a CAF Technical & Development Committee, a panel of media experts and a select panel of CAF Legends, made up of former winners of the prestigious African Player of the Year award.
In the shortlist for the African Women’s Player of the Year is Nigeria’s Asisat Oshoala, who will contend with Ajara Nchout of Cameroun and Thembi Kgatlana of South Africa.
Morocco’s Achraf Hakimi will battle with two Nigerians, Samuel Chukwueze and Victor Osimhen, for the African Youth Player of the Year, while former Super Falcons manager, Thomas Dennerby has South Africa’s Desiree Ellis and Cameroun’s Alain Djeumfa to compete with in the African Women’s Coach of the Year category. Nigeria, Cameroun and South Africa are the top three African Women’s National Team of the Year contenders.
Algeria’s Riyad Mahrez enjoyed a stellar year in 2019, winning a domestic treble with Manchester City and captaining Algeria to glory in the African Cup of Nations in Egypt this summer.
Mohamed Salah is looking to defend the title he secured last year, while Sadio Mane is aiming to take the crown away from Mahrez, who defeated him in the Cup of Nations final.
Mahrez previously won the award in 2016 but the last two honours have been clinched by Salah, with Mane finishing runner-up in each of the last two years.
The final phase of voting for the award will be selected by head coaches/technical directors and captains of senior national teams from Caf member associations.