Located on the coast of the Red Sea, football stars from different parts of the world gathered at Hurghada, Egypt to celebrate the best talents of African football in 2019.
Legends like Kanu Nwankwo, El-Hadj Diouf, Rudd Gullit, Arsene Wenger and many other stars were all dressed in their dapper suits on a night of celebration in the land of the pyramids.
Hosted by Cameroonian legend, Samuel Eto’o, the 2019 CAF awards was truly a celebration of the best talents to come out of Africa, but not without controversy.
So without much talk, Soccernet.ng takes a look at some of the talking points from the show.
Mane A Deserved Winner: After being snubbed by France Football and FIFA, the Senegal international was finally rewarded for a stellar year.- And where best than his continent.
The former Southampton man finished fourth in the Ballon d’Or rankings, but many felt he deserved better. It was the same story at the FIFA best awards.
It's official! 🥇
The African Player of the Year for 2⃣0⃣1⃣9⃣ is #SadioMane
— CAF (@CAF_Online) January 7, 2020
In a year where he scored 35 goals and provided 11 assists in 63 games, it would have been unfair if Mane’s performance was not rewarded. The 27 did not only had a great individual year but he also won the big trophies.
He played an important role in Liverpool’s sixth champions league crown, while he also added the Super Cup and World Club Cup.
He finished as the joint topscorer in the Premier League last season, although Liverpool lost the league by just a point. The disappointment of missing out on the league last campaign could have broken Mane and Liverpool spirit, but it has rather spur them on this campaign with Mane playing a huge role.
The Reds are well on course to win their first league title in almost thirty years, and Mane would’ve played a huge part in it when it eventually happens.
So it is only fair Mane gets the recognition he deserves, by picking up the 2019 CAF player of the year award ahead of his Liverpool teammate Mohamed Sala, and Man City’s Riyad Mahrez.
Hakimi Beats Nigerian Stars To The Young Player Award: The Moroccan was up against Victor Osimhen and Samuel Chukwueze- both from Nigeria.
While the two Nigerians had a stellar year, especially Osimhen, Hakimi deserved the award following his performance for Borussia Dortmund this year.
— SOCCER212 (@SCCR_212) January 7, 2020
The 21-year-old, on loan from Real Madrid, is one of Borussia Dortmund’s best players this year. He has made 26 appearances for Lucien Favre’s team this season, scoring 6 goals, including four important ones in the champions league-all from the right-back spot.
Although Osimhen may feel he was robbed after a brilliant start to life at Lille, the 21-year-old still has many years in front of him to win bigger individual awards as long as he stays consistent.
Oshoala Matches Nkwocha: The Super Falcon and Barcelona Femeni attacker picked up her fourth Women player of the year award. Her latest win means she has now equal the feat of former Super Falcons forward Perpetua Nkwocha who also won the award four times.
But with Oshoala just 25 years old, and still going strong, She is well on course to win more.
Salah’s No Show: He was one of the nominees, but Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah was not present at an award ceremony which held in his country. The other nominee, Riyad Mahrez was also not present, but that was understandable as he was in action of his club Man City that same night.
Why has Salah refused to travel for the CAF awards? Is it his ego speaking?
— Oluwajoba (@olumcjobson) January 7, 2020
Lol, true colours…
They don't come in B & W, they come in ROYGBIV
— Jidechi Chidiezie (@Jidechi_) January 7, 2020
I understand Mahrez cos he's playing rn, but Salah, I don't know. Hope he is not trying to be a sore loser like Ronaldo and Messi?
— Boluwatitonisola Omoniyi (@bols_bols1) January 7, 2020
Someone made an excuse for him saying he didn't want to steal the spotlight from Mane cos the award is in his homeland thus him not being present.
— Shonibare (@BlackDangote) January 7, 2020
However, Salah was free that night and should have attended the ceremony. After all, his Liverpool teammate and eventual winner, Sadio Mane was present. So what was the reason for Salah’s absence? Could it be as a result of his well-known troubles with the Egypt FA? Or Could it be he knew he was not going to win?
Nevertheless, his non-appearance does not speak well of him. The least he could do was to show up and support his Liverpool teammate.
No Super Eagles Star Good For Best XI: Nigerian fans were upset with CAF following the exclusion of Super Eagles stars from the FIFProAfrica’s best eleven. A lot felt Odion Ighalo and Wilfred Ndidi should’ve been included in the team.
🇨🇲 Joel Matip
🇲🇦 Hakim Ziyech
🇸🇳 #SadioMane@FIFProAfrica's Best 1⃣1⃣ for 2⃣0⃣1⃣9⃣! #CAFAwards2019 pic.twitter.com/7pWbAjgelD
— CAF (@CAF_Online) January 7, 2020
Ighalo won the golden boot at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, while Ndidi is seen as one of the best midfielders in the world. But despite their achievements, it was not good enough to earn a place in Africa’s best eleven.
It would have been difficult for Ighalo to break into the team ahead of Aubameyang who was the joint topscorer in the Premier League last season, while Gana was a good choice in the defensive midfield role, although Ndidi’s performance in 2019 deserves recognition.