Because of their blistering form throughout 2018, especially for their respective clubs, there is no doubt that Liverpool duo of Mohammed Salah and Sadio Mane together with Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are the best African players currently.
They trio have been named as the final three to vie for the 2018 CAF Footballer of the Year Award. Apart from putting up stellar shows at their respective clubs, they were also essential in guiding their countries to the 2019 Total Africa Cup of Nations.
Of the three, only Sadio Mane has never won the award despite this being his third straight nomination. Salah is the reigning footballer of the year while Aubameyang won it in 2015.
All three players were on the shortlist last year as they competed for the 2017 crown that Salah scooped with a landslide victory.
Twenty nine year old Aubameyang has been a nominee since 2014 equaling the record of Ivorian legend Yaya Toure and Ghanaian midfield supremo Michael Essien.
Four-time Player of the Year, Toure, achieved the feat between 2011-2015 while Essien was nominated between 2005-2009.
It’s on record that Salah, 26, is the first Egyptian to win the award that has been around since 1992, but no player has won it back to back since Toure in 2011 and 2012.
El Hadji Diouf and Samuel Etoó enjoyed the same stints between 2001-2002 and in 2003-2004 respectively and together with Toure, they remain the only players to achieve the feat.
With Salah having a stellar year it makes him an outright favourite to win it. Mane will hope to become the second Senegalese to win the top most individual honour after Diouf.
In the women category, Nigerian duo of Asisat Oshoala and Francisca Ordega, together with South African Chrestinah Thembi Kgatlana have made the final three for the Women’s Player of the Year 2018.
The three made the cut after a performance filled year which saw them make headlines at both club and national levels.
Oshoala is the winner for the past two years, she also won it in 2014 and will have her sights on a fourth to equal the feat of compatriot Perpetua Nkwocha (2004, 2005, 2010, 2011).
The 24-year old helped Nigeria to successively defend their title during the Total Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (AWCON) in Ghana last December.
The winners and others in different categories will be unveiled at the Awards Gala on 8 January 2019 in Dakar, Senegal.
Addition reporting by www.cafonline.com