Johannesburg - Mohamed Salah capped a great year for Egyptian football by clinching the Aiteo 2017 CAF player of the year award on Thursday.
Not only were the Egyptian team the runners-up to Cameroon in the Africa Cup of Nations, held in Gabon early last year, they also qualified for their first World Cup in 28 years.
Egypt dominated the CAF Awards, held in Accra, Ghana, with three trophies.
Héctor Cúper received the coach of the year accolade, while the Pharaohs were crowned national team of the year.
Salah (25) fended off opposition from his Liverpool team-mate, Sadio Mané of Senegal, as well as Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – who won in 2015 – to become the first Egyptian to win the most prestigious individual honour in African football.
He has had a phenomenal start to his spell at Liverpool since joining from AS Roma.
He completed his first half of the season with 17 goals in 21 Premier League games, and 23 goals in 29 games so far in all competitions for Liverpool.
He also proved a key player in the World Cup qualifiers for Egypt, having scored five goals in six games.
South Africa’s Thembi Kgatlana lost out to Nigeria’s Asisat Oshoala, who won the women’s player of the year award for the third time, having clinched the trophy in 2014 and 2016.
All the award winners
African player of the year
Mohamed Salah (Egypt and Liverpool)
Women’s player of the year
Asisat Oshoala (Nigeria and Dalian Quanjian)
Youth player of the year
Patson Daka (Zambia and FC Liefering)
Coach of the year
Héctor Cúper (Egypt)
Club of the year
Wydad Athletic Club (Morocco)
National team of the year
Women’s national team of the year
South Africa (Banyana Banyana)
Ibrahim Sunday (Ghana)
. Nana Akufo-Addo, president of Ghana
George Weah, president-elect of Liberia and former world, Africa and European player of the year
But Kgatlana did not leave Accra empty-handed: Banyana Banyana were declared the women’s national team of the year, capping a good year after their victory at the Cosafa Women’s Championship in September.
However, the awards were not without controversy.
Two of the African best player nominees, Aubameyang and Mané, did not make it onto CAF’s top 11 short list, yet were among the top three on the continent.
And CAF scrapped its Africa-based player of the year award, which was won by Mamelodi Sundowns goalkeeper Denis Onyango in 2016.