The winner of the best player accolade will be announced very soon.
Ten players have been nominated for the 2022 African Footballer of the Year prize at this year’s CAF Awards. Sadio Mane, who recently left Liverpool and joined Bayern Munich, won the award in 2019 and is again nominated on a shortlist of 10 candidates; as is Mohamed Salah, who previously won the award in 2017 and 2018.
The others on the list include his former Liverpool teammate Salah, Chelsea pair Edouard Mendy and Kalidou Koulibaly, Manchester City‘s Riyad Mahrez, Liverpool’s Naby Keita, Olympique Lyon‘s Karl Toko Ekambi, Al Nassr’s Vincent Aboubakar, Borussia Dortmund’s Sebastien Haller and Paris Saint-Germain’s Achraf Hakimi.
After the 2020 and 2021 editions of the awards were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2022 winner will be crowned on 21 July at a ceremony in Rabat.
Here are the top ten nominated African players, ranked:
10. Vincent Aboubakar (Cameroon and Al Nassr)
Vincent Aboubakar’s Cameroon was one of the best teams at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations. Though unfancied by many, they reached the finals and almost stunned eventual runner-up Egypt, going down in a penalty shootout in the semifinals.
At the club level, he plies his trade with Al Nassr FC in Saudi Arabia. The club finished third in the Saudi Professional League, the country’s top flight. In the King Cup, Saudi Arabia’s knockout cup competition, they were knocked out in the semifinals by Al-Hilal. They exited the AFC Champions League in the same stage and to the same opponents, losing 2-1 in the last four to Al-Hilal.
9. Karl Toko Ekambi (Cameroon and Olympique Lyon)
Alongside Vincent Aboubakar, Karl Toko Ekambi performed excellently for Cameroon, finishing as a semifinalist. With Olympique Lyon, however, Ekambi had a forgetful season. The club began the season with an eye on Champions League qualification but ended in eighth place, five points behind Rennes in fourth and a massive 25 points behind champions Paris Saint-Germain.
8. Achraf Hakimi (Morocco and Paris Saint-Germain)
With Morocco, Achraf Hakimi fought valiantly in the Africa Cup of Nations and reached the quarterfinals. Facing Egypt here, they took an early lead before Salah equalized for the Pharaohs. Trezeguet scored in extra time to break their hearts and send Egpyt through.
At club level, he had his first season with French giants Paris Saint-Germain. Alongside stars like Lionel Messia, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar, the team took the League 1 title but failed to make a mark elsewhere, especially on the European stage in the Champions League.
7. Sebastien Haller (Ivory Coast and Borussia Dortmund)
With Ivory Coast, Sebastien Haller did well at the Africa Cup of Nations until they came face to face with Egpyt in the Roud of 16. After holding strong in regulation time, they lost 4-5 on penalties to exit the tournament. After that, they lost two friendlies to France and England, before beginning their 2023 AFCON qualification with a thumping 3-1 win against Zambia.
At club level, Sebastien Haller put his depressing Wes Ham stint behind him to become the best striker in Eredivisie with Ajax. He performed so well that Borussia Dortmund swooped in this summer and bought him services, making him a replacement for the prolific Erling Haaland.
6. Naby Keita (Guinea and Liverpool)
The 2021-22 seasons saw Naby Keita finally put his injury troubles behind him. With Liverpool, he won the English Cup, the League Cup and played in the Champions League final.
He’s also a key player for the Guinea national football team, though the team hasn’t achieved a lot in the recent past. They made a Round of 16 exit at the Africa Cup of Nations and did not register anything noteworthy in their 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying either.
5. Riyad Mahrez (Algeria and Manchester City)
Riyad Mahrez has won the award before, in 2016. The Algeria captain was central to Manchester City’s Premier League triumph. On the international stage, he captained Algeria to an early exit at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations. Algeria also ended their 35-game unbeaten streak with a 1-0 defeat to Equatorial Guinea.
4. Kalidou Koulibaly (Chelsea and Senegal)
Senegal captain Kalidou Koulibaly was central to his country’s fortunes, leading the defence with aplomb and barely putting a foot wrong. His presence at the back gave the likes of Mane the license to go all-out in the attack.
The 31-year-old also helped Napoli stay in the Serie A title hunt for most of the season, eventually finishing seven points behind champion Inter Milan after his team ran out of steam at the end. This summer, he has moved clubs, joining international teammate Mendy at Chelsea.
3. Edouard Mendy (Senegal and Chelsea)
Edouard Mendy had an interesting season at the club level. He won the FIFA Cup World Cup and the Super Cup, after which Chelsea were put in administration owing to their Russian owner Roman Abramovich’s close connection with Vladimir Putin, whose Russia started an invasion of Ukraine. Despite the difficult circumstances, he performed admirably and ensure his club finished third and secured Champions League qualification. He also helped his side to the FA Cup and League Cup finals, losing both to Liverpool. At international level, he won a historic first Africa Cup of Nations title with Senegal.
2. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool and Egypt)
At the international level, Mohamed Salah came very close to achieving what Mane did but fell in the final hurdle to Mane’s Senegal. With Liverpool, he won the English Cup, the League Cup and played in the Champions League final, just like ex-teammate Mane.
1. Sadio Mane (Senegal and Bayern Munich)
Sadio Mane, who joined Bayern Munich from Liverpool a few weeks ago, top this list. He was a key figure at the Africa Cup of Nations and took Senegal to a historic win over Egypt in the final to make them AFCON champions for the first time in history. The 30-year-old also helped his country qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, again beating the Pharaohs in the playoffs.
With Liverpool, he won the English Cup, the League Cup and played in the Champions League final, losing to Real Madrid.