The BBC African Footballer of the Year award is now into its 26th
year. It’s an annual accolade that recognizes the best player from the African continent. Scan an eye down the winners’ list and you’ll find luminaries like Didier Drogba, George Weah, Yaya Touré and Jay-Jay Okocha.
As far as national honours go, Ghana and Nigeria share the top spot with five player awards apiece. Although footballers from key Afcon nations like South Africa, Kenya and Guinea are yet to get the nod from ordinary BBC viewers, this year’s shortlist features stars from Morocco, Senegal, Ghana and Egypt.
Here are the five nominees for the BBC African Player of the Year award 2018:
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Powerful, athletic and known for his prowess in the air, Medhi Benatia is recognised as one of the best centre backs in the Serie A. The 31-year-old French Moroccan won back-to-back Serie A and Coppa Italia for Juventus to add to his brace of Bundesliga titles.
Along with his solid showing in the Italian league, Benatia was instrumental in the Morocco national team qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Can the temperamental tackler outshine the competition to become the fifth Moroccan to claim the title?
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Kalidou Koulibay is rated the best centre back of African descent in the world. The 27-year-old Senegalese – aka ‘The Wall’ because of his impenetrable defensive skills – has competed at the highest level of Italian football for several years.
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Koulibay played his part for Napoli in the Serie A final against Juventus last season and was a key member of the Senegal national squad at the World Cup in Russia. Will Koulibay’s legendary defence prove sufficient to elevate him to the top spot in 2018?
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Liverpool winger, Sadio Mane became the first player of Senegalese descent to score a UEFA Champions League goal when he struck the back of the net against Real Madrid. He ended the competition as the joint-second top scorer with a tally of 10 goals.
The precociously talented number 10 is also the highest Senegalese goal scorer in the history the Premier League, and the seventh African player to accumulate 50 league goals. Mane opened the goal scoring account for Senegal at the FIFA World Cup and is a popular contender for the 2018 title.
Image Source: goal.com
Thomas Partey is defensive midfielder for Spanish club Atletico Madrid. He is also one of the most improved players in the league. Partey was part of the team that walloped Olympique Marseille 3 – 0 in the UEFA Europa League final and has the skill-set and temperament to go far.
Although the 25-year-old Ghanaian is up against stiff competition as this year’s BBC Footballer of the Year, he may have done enough to impress the people who count the most… and they of course are the millions of BBC fans.
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Mohamed Saleh has had a spectacular season for Liverpool. He has scooped up a slew of awards including the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and the Football Writers’ Player of the Year awards.
His 32 Premier League goals in 36 outings quite rightly earned him the Premier League Golden Boot, an accolade that is even more impressive when you take his 10 Champions League strikes into account.
Salah is the incumbent holder of the African Footballer of the Year award. By all accounts the quick, agile and tactically intelligent footballer from Egypt is a dead-cert to become only the second player after Manchester City’s Yaya Touré to win consecutive BBC player awards!
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