The man who wants to be remembered as a ‘Pharaoh’ has indeed moved closer to that goal. The Egyptian maestro, Mohamed Salah, write his name into football history after being crowned African Player of the Year 2017.
25-year old Salah plays for the English side, Liverpool, and picked the topmost prize at the Aiteo CAF Awards Gala 2017, held on Thursday, 4 January 2018, at the International Conference Centre in Accra, Ghana.
Salah fended off opposition from club-mate Sadio Mane of Senegal and Gabonese Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, winner in 2015, to become the first Egyptian to win the most prestigious individual honour in African football. He polled 625 points, against 507 from Mane whilst Aubameyang finished a distant third with 311 points.
The feat capped a superb year for the forward who played an influential role for both club and country during the year under review.
Salah’s feat was the climax of a memorable evening for Egyptian football which saw the Pharaohs being named National Team of the Year and Argentina-born trainer, Hector Cuper, Coach of the Year.
Also laying a record is Nigerian Asisat Oshoala who was adjudged Women’s Player of the Year for the third time, after 2014 and 2016. She beat Cameroonian Gabrielle Aboudi Onguene and Chrestina Kgatlana of South Africa to the top prize.
On her part, Oshoala has also been in top form for her club even though she has been rendered redundant as far as national team duties are concerned.
Following her surprise move from Arsenal to Dalian Quanjian in February 2017, Oshoala took China by storm, leading her team to a league and cup double.
This is the third time that the former Liverpool and Arsenal Ladies forward is been voted as best on the continent.
She broke down into tears after receiving the award and said: “When I left Arsenal to China, people said my career was over. Here I am winning this award once again.
“To all the young girls out there, don’t let anyone talk you down. Always follow your dreams.”
However, Kgatlana took consolation in Banyana Banyana being named Women’s National Team of the Year.
Patson Daka ensured Zambia was represented on the podium with the Youth Player of the Year, ten years after compatriot Clifford Mulenga was decorated Most Promising Talent of the Year.
African champions, Wydad Athletic Club of Morocco deservingly went home with the Club of the Year award.
Former Ghana player Ibrahim Sunday, a member of the Asante Kotoko squad that won the African Cup of Champions Clubs in 1970 was decorated with the Legend award.
CAF Executive Committee member, Ahmed Yahya, who doubles as president of the Mauritania Football Federation was named Football Leader of the Year.
Meanwhile, South Africa’s Women National team, Bayana Bayana, won the Women’s National Team of the Year award ahead of Nigeria’s U-20 female team, the Falconets.
In men’s category, the Egyptian national team were voted as the continent’s best ahead of the Super Eagles of Nigeria.
Ahmed Yahya of Mauritania was the winner of the Leader of the Year Award while Ibrahim Sunday was the winner of the Legend Award.
There were two Platinum Awards, one to Ghana President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and global football icon, George Weah, now President-elect of Liberia.
Victory on Thursday completed an awards hat-trick for Salah, who was named BBC African Footballer of the Year in December and Arab Player of the Year earlier this week.
Ahead of the awards ceremony, CAF president Ahmad Ahmad told a media conference why the Africa-based Player of the Year and Referee of the Year awards had been scrapped.
“When a footballer aims for excellence, they must rise to the highest standards, irrespective of where they play. We hope one day the best player will be based in Africa.
“Referees already have their rewards and marks of recognition. They are evaluated after every match and the best are designated matches like the CAF Champions League final.”
Shortlists had been drawn up for both awards when the CAF executive committee decided to dump them, initially without offering any explanations.
The ceremony which was beamed live to millions across the world had Ghana President Akufo-Addo, Fatma Samoura – FIFA General Secretary amongst some high profile attendees.
There were also musical performances from Toofan from Togo, DR Congo’s Fally Ipupa, and Nigerian septet of Patoranking, Wizkid, Tiwa Savage, Olamide, Phyno and Flavour.
African Player of the Year
Mohamed Salah (Egypt & Liverpool)
Women’s Player of the Year
Asisat Oshoala (Nigeria & Dalian Quanjian)
Youth Player of the Year
Patson Daka (Zambia & Liefering)
Coach of the Year
Hector Cuper (Egypt)
Club of the Year
Wydad Athletic Club
National Team of the Year
Women’s National Team of the Year
Ibrahim Sunday (Ghana)
Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo – President of Ghana
George Weah – President-elect of Liberia & former World, Africa and European Player of the Year
Fans’ Finest XI
Goalkeeper: Aymen Mathlouthi (Tunisia & Etoile du Sahel)
Defenders: Ahmed Fathi (Egypt & Al Ahly), Eric Bailly (Cote d’Ivoire & Manchester United), Ali Maaloul (Tunisia & Al Ahly)
Midfielders: Mohamed Ounnajem (Morocco & Wydad Athletic Club), Karim El Ahmadi (Morocco & Feyenoord), Junior Ajayi (Nigeria & Al Ahly), Achraf Bencharki (Morocco & Wydad Athletic Club)
Forwards: Khalid Boutaib (Morocco & Yeni Malatyaspor), Mohamed Salah (Egypt & Liverpool), Taha Yassine Khenissi (Tunisia & Esperance)
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