Accra - Prolific
Liverpool scorer Mohamed Salah was named African Player of the Year in
Ghanaian capital Accra on Thursday, the first Egyptian to win the award
since Mahmoud al Khatib in 1983.
The 25-year-old has scored 23 goals in 29 matches in all competitions
this season for the Premier League outfit after moving from AS Roma in
He also starred for resurgent Egypt, who last year finished
runners-up to Cameroon in the Africa Cup of Nations and secured a first
World Cup appearance since 1990.
In the penultimate round of World Cup qualifying, Salah scored the
brace that edged Congo Brazzaville in Alexandria, including the
stoppage-time winner from a penalty that sealed a trip to Russia.
Salah's Liverpool teammate Sadio Mane, of Senegal, was runner-up and
2015 winner, Gabon and Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick
Aubameyang third after a 30-player list had been trimmed to three.
National coaches, Confederation of African Football (CAF) officials, journalists and the public were involved in the voting.
"Winning this award is a dream come true - 2017 was an unbelievable
year for me I had a fantastic time with the national team," said Salah
after receiving the trophy.
"This is a big award for me, a special moment in my career. I would like to dedicate it to all the kids in Africa and Egypt.
"I want to tell them to never stop dreaming, never stop believing."
The Egyptian succeeds Algerian Riyad Mahrez of Leicester City as holder of the most prized CAF individual award.
It is the first time since 1986 that stars from the north of the
continent, which along with the west is the strongest football region,
have won successive titles.
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.
Mane was voted 2016-2017 Liverpool Player of the Season, but the
25-year-old has since been overshadowed at Anfield by Salah's scoring
He did stand out for Senegal, however, as they secured a first World
Cup appearance since 2002, providing much of the creativity in a team
stacked with physically formidable footballers.
Aubameyang was Bundesliga top scorer with 31 goals last season, holding off Bayern Munich and Poland ace Robert Lewandowski.
He flopped with Gabon, though, failing to take the 2017 Cup of
Nations hosts past the first round and shunning several World Cup
call-ups as Gabon failed to qualify.
Other award winners included Women's Footballer of the Year Asisat
Oshoala of Nigeria and Youth Player of the Year Patson Daka of Zambia.
Argentine Egypt manager Hector Cuper was named Coach of Year and
other honours went to Egypt (national team), South Africa (women's
national team) and Wydad Casablanca (club).
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
Complete list of winners at the 2017 Confederation of African Football (CAF) awards ceremony in Accra on Thursday:
Player of the Year
1. Mohamed Salah (Egypt, Liverpool/ENG), 2. Sadio Mane (Senegal,
Liverpool/ENG), 3. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon, Borussia
Women's Player of the Year
Asisat Oshoala (Nigeria, Dalian Quanjian/CHN)
Youth Player of the Year
Patson Daka (Zambia, Liefering/AUT)
Coach of the Year
Hector Cuper (Egypt)
National Team of the Year
Women's National Team of the Year
Club of the Year
Wydad Casablanca (Morocco)
Africa's Finest XI
Aymen Mathlouthi (Tunisia, Etoile Sahel); Ahmed Fathy (Egypt, Al
Ahly), Eric Bailly (Ivory Coast, Manchester Utd/ENG), Ali Maaloul
(Tunisia, Al Ahly/EGY); Mohamed Ounnajem (Morocco, Wydad Casablanca),
Karim el Ahmadi (Morocco, Feyenoord/NED), Junior Ajayi (Nigeria, Al
Ahly/EGY), Achraf Bencharki (Morocco, Wydad Casablanca); Khalid Boutaib
(Morocco, Yeni Malatyaspor/TUR), Mohamed Salah (Egypt, Liverpool/ENG),
Taha Yassine Khenissi (Tunisia, Esperance)