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Goalie Onyango nominated for African Player of the Year award

onyango-goalie-3
Johannesburg, South Africa | AFP |

Uganda’s number one goalkeeper Dennis Onyango is among 30 nominees named for the 2016 African Player of the Year football award.

Onyango plays for Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa who moved closer to a fairy-tale CAF Champions League title with a 3-0 home victory over Zamalek of Egypt Saturday in the first leg of the final.

His season has seen him guide Uganda Cranes to their first African Cup of Nations finals appearance since 1978.

African football body CAF released Saturday the lists of nominees for the two major annual individual awards, the African Player of the Year and the Africa-based Player of the Year. Onyango was nominated in both categories.

Tanzania striker Mbwana Samatta, winner of the 2015 Africa-based Player of the Year award, is not among the nominees for that category as he now plays in Belgium.

Among those who could succeed him are Uganda goalkeeper Onyango and Zimbabwe striker Khama Billiat from CAF Champions League finalists Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa.

The Uganda team that faced Comoros. PHOTO FUFA
The Uganda team that faced Comoros. PHOTO FUFA

 

Hot favourite for the top award however is Riyad Mahrez of Algeria.

The winger, who is equally efficient at scoring and creating goals, was a key figure for sensational 2015-2016 English Premier League (EPL) title winners Leicester City.

His efforts were acknowledged by fellow professionals in the most watched domestic football league in the world when they voted him EPL Players’ Player of the Year.

Mahrez has been equally impressive for Algeria, who have been consistently among the top ranked African football nations for several years.

So good has been his form on the right side of midfield that long-time Algerian football icon Sofiane Feghouli cannot always make the starting line-up for the Desert Foxes.

It would be a shock if Mahrez, who joined Leicester two years ago from French outfit Le Havre, is not named African Player of the Year in Abuja on January 5.

The Algerian is one of three Leicester stars in the running for the top African football individual award — the others are compatriot and striker Islam Slimani and Nigeria winger Ahmed Musa.

EPL footballers dominate the 30-star list with 12 included, three come from the Italian Serie A, two each from the Spanish La Liga and French Ligue 1 and one from the German Bundesliga.

CAF media, development and technical committee members, journalists and TV consultants and national coaches or national technical directors are involved in the selection process.

The lone nominee from the Bundesliga, Gabon and Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, was a controversial 2015 winner.

Ivory Coast and Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure, who was seeking a record-extending fifth consecutive award, publicly criticised the choice of the Gabon goal-poacher.

Toure dismissed the outstanding form of Aubameyang for Dortmund in the Bundesliga and the Europa League, saying 2015 Africa Cup of Nations performances should have been prioritised.

He was part of the Ivory Coast team that won the African showpiece for the first time in 23 years, ending a decade of under-achievement by a self-styled ‘golden generation’.

Toure has been sidelined amid a war of words between his agent and new Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and was not nominated.

Three Ivorians made the list — veteran winger Gervinho, centre-back Eric Bailly and controversial Paris Saint-Germain right-back Serge Aurier.

The defender is being investigated by world body FIFA for making a throat-slitting gesture after creating a goal for Ivory Coast in a World Cup victory over Mali last weekend.

But Mali coach Alain Giresse has hailed Aurier, saying he “saved the life” of opponent Moussa Doumbia by preventing him swallowing his tongue after being knocked unconscious.

African Player of the Year

(30 nominees)

Algeria: Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City/ENG), Islam Slimani (Leicester City/ENG), El Arabi Hillel Soudani (Dinamo Zagreb/CRO)

Cameroon: Samuel Eto’o (Antalyaspor/TUR), Benjamin Mounkandjo(Lorient/FRA)

Democratic Republic of Congo: Cedric Bakambu (Villareal/ESP), Yannick Bolasie (Everton/ENG)

Egypt: Mohamed El Neny (Arsenal/ENG), Mohamed Salah (Roma/ITA)

Gabon: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund/GER, holder)

Ghana: Andre Ayew (West Ham/ENG)

Ivory Coast: Serge Aurier (Paris Saint-Germain/FRA), Eric Bailly (Manchester Utd/ENG), Gervinho (Hebei Fortune/CHN)

Kenya: Victor Wanyama (Tottenham Hotspur/ENG)

Liberia: William Jebor (Wydad Casablanca/MAR)

Morocco: Mehdi Benatia (Juventus/ITA), Hakim Ziyech (Ajax Amsterdam/NED)

Nigeria: Kelechi Iheanacho (Manchester City/ENG), John Obi Mikel (Chelsea/ENG), Ahmed Musa (Leicester City/ENG)

Senegal: Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli/ITA), Sadio Mane (Liverpool/ENG)

South Africa: Keegan Dolly (Mamelodi Sundowns), Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs)

Tanzania: Mbwana Samatta (Genk/BEL)

Tunisia: Aymen Abdennour (Valencia/ESP), Wahbi Khazri (Sunderland/ENG)

Uganda: Dennis Onyango (Mamelodi Sundowns/RSA)

Zimbabwe: Khama Billiat (Mamelodi Sundowns/RSA)

Africa-based Player of the Year

(25 nominees)

Chad: Morgan Betorangal (Mouloudia Bejaia/ALG)

Congo Brazzaville: Fabrice Ondama (Wydad Casablanca/MAR)

DR Congo: Joel Kimwaki, Elia Meschak (both TP Mazembe), Joyce Lomalisa (V Club), Idris Mbombo (ZESCO Utd/ZAM)

Egypt: Ali Gabr, Ayman Hefny, Bassem Morsy (all Zamalek)

Ivory Coast: Yannick Zakri (Mamelodi Sundowns/RSA)

Kenya: Jesse Were (ZESCO Utd/ZAM)

Liberia: William Jebor (Wydad Casablanca/MAR)

Mali: Salif Coulibaly (TP Mazembe/COD)

Morocco: Reda Hajhouj (Wydad Casablanca)

Nigeria: Chisom Chikatara (Wydad Casablanca/MAR), Mfon Udoh (Enyimba)

South Africa: Keegan Dolly, Hlompho Kekana (both Mamelodi Sundowns), Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs)

Uganda: Dennis Onyango (Mamelodi Sundowns/RSA)

Tunisia: Hamza Lahmar, Aymen Mathlouthi (both Etoile Sahel)

Zambia: Rainford Kalaba (TP Mazembe/COD), Jackson Mwanza (ZESCO Utd)

Zimbabwe: Khama Billiat (Mamelodi Sundowns/RSA)

Notes

— CAF media, technical and development committees, journalists and TV consultants and national coaches or national technical directors will be involved in selection process

— Abuja hosts awards ceremony on Jan 5 2017

 

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