Sadio Mane has been unsurprisingly named the African Player of the Year 2019 on Tuesday evening in Egypt, becoming the second Senegalese to engrave his name in gold letters on the individual prize awarded by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) since 1992.By Ibrahima Dione
The Liverpool winger, after finishing third in 2016 and 2017 before catching up with the Egyptian Mohamed Salah in 2018, has finally set foot on the top podium.
He finally beat Algeria’s Riyadh Mahrez and his Liverpool teammate Mohamed Salah to the ultimate individual prize.
“Mane as African Player of the Year was an obvious choice because he has performed for club and country at the highest level. He won the Champions League, the European Super Cup and the Club World Cup. Sadio led Senegal’s national team to the AFCON 2019 final. He was very decisive throughout those competitions. He therefore deserves this award,” said Tunisian sports journalist Arafat Hamrouni.
“The advantage of Mane over Salah stems (mainly) from their results at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. Compared to Mahrez, Liverpool has won more trophies than Manchester City,” Hamrouni said.
Senegal played in the final of the AFCON (0-1 defeat against Algeria) where Egypt was pitiably eliminated by South Africa (0-1) in the Round of 16.
Moreover, the three titles won by Jurgen Klopp’s men weigh more heavily in the balance than the Premier League and the two domestic cups won by the Citizens.
Sadio Mané becomes the second Senegalese winner of CAF’s major trophy, 18 years after El Hadj Ousseynou Diouf won it in 2001 and 2002.
In the past calendar year, the 27-year-old Senegalese international scored 35 goals in all competitions.
In detail, the striker with a keen sense of flair has found the back of the net 31 times for the Reds (24 in the Premier League, five in the European Champions League and two in the European Supercup) and four for the Teranga Lions of Senegal.
A prpduct of Senegal’s Generation Foot, an Anfield favourite, was top scorer in the English Premier League with 22 goals alongside Salah and Arsenal’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
“Mane’s personality changed the day Mohamed Salah was crowned African POTY in January 2018 in Dakar, Senegal. The player who lost that trophy is different from the one we saw afterwards. In terms of pride, taking responsibility and daring, he has metamorphosed,” said psychologist Khalifa Diagne.
In the wake of the Pharaoh’s (Salah) crowning, Mane firmly promised his compatriots the ultimate reward for any player on the continent.
That day, while on state television (RTS), “he expressed a very strong sense of self by affirming his ability to fulfill the task,” Mr. Diagne said.
And, as one might expect, the Lions’ leader has been honored with personal distinctions namely the Onze d’Or from the French magazine, Onze Mondial, Eusebio Award from We Are New Africans (WANA) and Senegalese Ballon d’Or for the sixth year in a row.
In addition to these individual accolades, Mane is the best player of the year according to the specialist media So Foot.
In the France Football Ballon d’Or rankings, Mane finished fourth, scoring 347 points.
His challenger Mo Salah (5th) was 169 points behind him while the gap between Sadio and Mahrez (10th) is 314 points.
The African Player of the Year is elected by coaches, national technical directors and captains of national A-teams of CAF’s member associations.