Can Salah win the Africa Player award again?

Author: Peter Sarbah
Mohamed Salah
Mohamed Salah

Egyptian star, Mohamed Salah could defend his crown as the Africa Footballer of the Year after he was shortlisted in the final three of the award ceremony slated for Dakar, Senegal on January 8.

The 26-year-old Liverpool attacker who looks likely to win the accolade again must fend off competition from his teammate and Senegalese international, Sadio Mane as well as Arsenal and Gabonese star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Coincidentally, it would be a repeat of the same set of players for last year’s finalist for which Salah emerged the winner.

Salah has been exceptional for both club and country and although he could not help Egypt to perform better in the 2018 World Cup in Russia, his 47 goals in 69 Premier League appearances together with 18 assists towers all his competitors.

Following these exploits, BBC voted Salah the Africa Footballer of the Year in December 2018 with competition coming from Medhi Benatia, Kalidou Koulibaly, Sadio Mane and Thomas Partey to the prize and making him favourite for the award.

For Aubameyang who has been consistent among the top three since 2014, would be making his fifth appearance on the podium to equal the record of Yaya Toure and Michael Essien who have each been nominated on five different occasions.

Toure who holds a record four-time Player of the Year awards achieved the feat in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 while his Ghanaian counterpart got nomination in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009 and this time around the 29-year Gabonese would hope to win the trophy for the second time.

The competition would be hosted at the backyard of Sadio Mane who is also making his hat-trick of appearances coming third in 2016, before improving to second in 2017 but would hope to be a third time lucky and become the second Senegalese to win the topmost prize after Diouf.

Salah who made history as the first Egyptian player to win the continent’s prestigious Player of the Year since its inception in 1992 would be looking to join the elite league of players to win the honour back-to-back.

Senegalese star El Hadji Diouf won it in (2001, 2002), Samuel Eto’o of Cameroon (2003, 2004) and Toure (2011, 2012) to remain the only three players to have successively won the titles.