Sadio Mane was the last player to win the award and could be dethroned on July 21 in Morocco. Following the return of the CAF Awards, Africa’s best football talents can now let off a smirk as they will, in July, be rewarded following a season of hard work.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) announced on Sunday, the return of the award following a three-year hiatus.
The ceremony slated to hold in Morocco, on 21 July 2022 will see a category: Women’s Interclub Player of the Year introduced.
However, the more dynamic shift for the awards is the new review period – September 2021 until June 2022 – as compared to the previous January to December consideration period.
As usual, the most anticipated category will be the Men’s Player of the Year, especially, with a performance at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), a factor to also consider.
But the question remains, who stands the best chance of carting away the award? Here are 6 players who could be chosen for the holy grail.
Having completed a move from Inter Milan to PSG, Hakimi found settling into life in France pretty easy.
The right-back played in all of PSG’s league and Champions League games he was available for. He also scored four times and assisted six to help PSG to another Ligue 1 title.
The right-back was not also lacking in goals for his national team, as he scored twice at the AFCON to ensure Morocco finished as one of the eight best teams in Cameroon.
Should the CAF Awards have been held in 2021, this clean sheet merchant could have had a stronger claim despite goalkeepers not having a great shot at being named Africa’s best.
Irrespective, he was brilliant for Chelsea, keeping a total of 23 clean sheets in 40 games spanning from the Premier League to the FIFA Club World Cup.
Although Mendy had to settle for only Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup this season – as Chelsea lost both the FA and EFL Cups to Liverpool, the goalkeeper ensured he enjoyed success on the national scene.
He won the AFCON with Senegal and was rewarded as the goalkeeper of the tournament.
Voted as Serie A’s African best Player of the Season, this Ivorien midfield maestro was explosive for AC Milan as they clinched their 19th league title.
Despite being a central midfielder, Kessie scored seven goals and made an assist across 39 games in all competitions for AC Milan.
He also led AC Milan to a near-cup win: before an ouster by Inter in the semi-finals, and helped Cote d’Ivoire to the last 16 at the AFCON.
Salah was a force to be reconned with as Liverpool and Egypt went the length in every competition this season.
Having scored 23 goals in the Premier League, Salah was awarded as the top scorer in the English top flight.
His 14 assists also meant he picked up the playmaker award. Asides from scoring eight in the Champions League, he also won the English FA and EFL Cups.
Salah, however, also suffered heartbreaks as Liverpool narrowly missed out on the Premier League, the Champions League and Egypt, the AFCON. He finished as a runner-up in all three competitions.
Like Salah, Mane also had a handful of a season with both Liverpool and his national team, Senegal.
While he did not amass as many goals nor assists, he was one of the Premier League’s top-scoring players, hitting 16 and assisting 4. He also scored five in the Champions League, and two in the FA Cup.
While Salah edged Mane in terms of goals, and assists, the winger edged his Liverpool teammates based on trophies won.
Mane helped Senegal win the AFCON over Egypt, and bagged himself three goals, two assists and the Player of the Tournament in the process.
Another explosive Ivorien this season was Ajax’s Haller. The centre-forward not just scored regular goals, but scored important goals that helped the Dutch club snatch a consecutive Eredivisie title.
In 42 games for Ajax this season, Haller assisted his teammates nine times, scoring 34 goals. He finished as the third most goalscorer in the Champions League and finished first in the Dutch league.
With Cote d’Ivoire, he scored once and assisted another for a round of 16 finish.