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'Now is his time' – El Hadji Diouf back Liverpool’s Mane to oust Salah as Africa’s king

16:56 GMT+3 30/05/2019
Sadio Mane Liverpool 2018-19
The Lions of Teranga icon feels the Reds star is on the cusp of winning the prestigious individual trophy following a stunning 2018-19 season
Liverpool and Senegal star Sadio Mane would be a worthy winner of the 2019 Africa Player of the Year award, according to El Hadji Diouf.

The 27-year-old has been in sensational form in 2018-19, scoring 22 goals in 36 games, to help the Reds finish as runners-up in the Premier League.

Mane's sublime performances earned him a number of individual accolades, including a share of the Premier League top scorer prize - alongside his Liverpool teammate Mohamed Salah and Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang - and player of the month for March.

He is expected to lead the Reds' charge for the Champions League title against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, and Diouf - who was named Africa’s best twice - has tipped his compatriot to dethrone Salah as the best player in Africa.

“Seriously, [Sadio] Mane is a very fantastic player, very fast and nobody can predict what he can do on the pitch. Now is his time,” Diouf told Goal.

“He had a great season winning the Premier League golden boot and helping his team reach the Champions League final.

“In contention for the crown are holders, [Mohamed] Salah and [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang who shared the Premier League topscorer award. Don’t forget there is a certain Hakim Ziyech who had a great season with Ajax.

“With the Africa Cup of Nations taking place very soon, it is easy to say it will be a contest between Salah and Mane, especially if they win the Champions League with Liverpool.

“But really, I think that Mane will win it. It is going to be a reward for his wonderful season in the Champions League and the Premier League.”

Mane finished as runner-up behind Salah in the last two editions of the award, while finishing in third place in 2016, behind Riyad Mahrez and Aubameyang.

On the international scene, Diouf will watch Mane and his Senegal compatriots battle for the Afcon title in Egypt during June and July.

The Teranga Lions have been drawn in Group C alongside Kenya, Tanzania and Algeria.