The BBC African Footballer of the Year is an award given to the best African footballer as voted for by BBC radio listeners. Initially called the BBC African Sports Star of the Year award, and later the BBC African Sports Personality of the Year, the award was first won in 1992 by Ghanian, Abedi Pele.
The format has since evolved and a shortlist of five players is announced every year following a poll taken by football journalists in Africa. Thereafter, a public vote decides the best player for that year.
Previous winners of the award include Didier Drogba, Jay-Jay Okocha, Riyad Mahrez and Nwankwo Kanu. With Jay-Jay Okocha, Nwankwo Kanu and Yaya Toure the only players to have won the award twice. Nigeria and Ghana lead the “Wins by Country” category with 5 awards each.
This year’s nominees are in, with the winner set to be announced on the 14th
of December. So without further delay, here is a list of the five African Footballer of the Year nominees for 2018:
Image source: Dailycannon.com
Medhi Benatia (Juventus & Morocco)
Centre back, Medhi Benatia, has won four consecutive league titles. Two with Bayern Munich
in 2014/15 and 2015/16 and two with Juventus
in 2016/17 and 2017/18.
He also lead Morocco at this year’s World Cup, and played a massive role in their first ever win over Cameroon.
At times controversial, there is no doubt that Benatia is one of the strongest, and most influential, defenders in the Juventus and Moroccan lineups.
The likelihood of him winning the BBC African Footballer of the Year award is slim considering the company he is in, but he has certainly earned his place on the list.
Image source: Vanguardngr.com
Thomas Partey (Atletico Madrid & Ghana)
midfielder, Thomas Partey, is arguably the most improved African footballer this year. The 25-year-old has solidified his place in Diego Simeone’s side and featured in Atletico’s Europa League final win over Marseille.
Although he is yet to stamp his authority on the international scene, Partey has scored for Ghana in international friendlies against Iceland and Japan. His influence in the midfield, especially in key moments, has allowed the young midfielder to stand out and earned him a spot on the nominees list.
Image source: Readmanutd.com
Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli & Senegal)
Arguably the best African centre back in football at the moment, Kalidou Koulibaly moved to Napoli
in 2014 for a fee of just €7.5 million (NGN 3 billion). Most recently, his value has been estimated at around €60 million (NGN 24 billion) which highlights just how valuable the defender is.
Koulibaly has continued to grow under Carlo Ancelotti’s influence at Napoli and is seen as a key player in Napoli’s title battle against Juventus.
Testament to his ability is the fact that Koulibaly played every single minute of Senegal’s 2018 World Cup campaign.
Image source: Liverpoolfc.com
Sadio Mane (Liverpool & Senegal)
Senegalese winger, Sadio Mane, has continually stood out as one of the best players for Liverpool
since joining the club in 2016. His outstanding form in 2016/17 was somewhat overshadowed by teammate Mohamed Salah, however his contribution to Liverpool’s Champions League campaign which saw him score 10 goals, endeared him not only to Liverpool fans, but to the football-loving public in general.
Mane became the seventh African player to score 50 Premier League goals when he netted a brace against Cardiff City in October. While he is competing against a strong group of nominees, Sadio Mane’s chance of becoming the first Senegalese winner of the African Footballer of the Year award since El Hadji Diouf is very much on the cards.
Image source: Bbc.co.uk
Mohamed Salah (Liverpool & Egypt)
Following a record-breaking season for Liverpool in 2017/18, Mohamed Salah was always going to make the list of nominees for the BBC AFOTY award. Having won the award in 2017 after a fairytale season with Roma and Liverpool
, it is looking increasingly likely that Salah will walk away with the award once more.
Despite being plagued by injury in the World Cup earlier this year, Salah still managed to score both of Egypt’s goals and continued to thrive when playing for Liverpool. He finished last season with 32 Premier League goals to his name and it is looking increasingly likely that Salah might become the fourth player to win the award for a second time.
Who is your African Footballer of the Year for 2018?
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