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African Player of the Year shortlist: Who missed out?

9:38 AM SGT 26/11/19
Samuel Chukwueze Nigeria 2019
Which of the continent’s stars deserved a spot in Caf’s APOTY shortlist?

  • Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Liverpool

    The African Footballer of the Year

    Caf released their 30-man shortlist for the 2019 African Player of the Year, with the continent’s finest players in the game today set to be honoured in an awards ceremony in January.

    While Mohamed Salah is in the running to seal a third consecutive APOTY prize, and Liverpool teammate Sadio Mane is in contention to knock him off his perch, some of Africa’s top players haven’t been included in Caf’s shortlist.

    In this slidelist, Ed Dove picks out a quintet of continental stars who should have been included among Caf’s top 30 players of the year.

  • Youcef Atal Nice

    Youcef Atal

    Perhaps the most high-profile omission from the shortlist is Algeria’s Atal, who has emerged as one of the most exciting players in Ligue 1 over the last 18 months.

    As well as his eye-catching performances with OGC Nice, with whom he demonstrates his dribbling qualities down the right flank on a consistent basis, he’s also established himself as a key figure in the Algeria starting eleven.

    His excellent performances in Egypt during the Africa Cup of Nations—as the Fennecs won the title—seemingly weren’t enough to secure him a spot among the continent’s top 30.

  • Tunisia-Wahbi-Khazri-AFCON

    Wahbi Khazri

    One of the more underrated players in African football, Khazri has made a series of decisive contributions for club and country over the last year, as he continues to be used in a more advanced role than he enjoyed earlier in his career.

    After starring at the World Cup, in which he scored twice and contributed two assists in Tunisia’s three group games, he bagged 13 in 32 for Saint-Etienne last term.

    Even though things didn’t go the Carthage Eagles’ way at the Nations Cup, Khazri still boosted his reputation with a vital equaliser against Mali and a penalty scored in the shootout victory over Ghana.

    He currently leads the goalscoring for the 2021 Afcon qualifying, after scoring three in the Eagles’ recent bouts against Libya and Equatorial Guinea. 

  • Joel Matip Liverpool 2019-20

    Joel Matip

    A key member of Liverpool’s Champions League-winning side, yet Matip’s form for the Reds seemingly hasn’t been enough to secure him a spot in Caf’s 30-man shortlist.

    The centre-back overcame a slow start to life at Anfield to establish himself as a key man under Jurgen Klopp, keeping Joe Gomez out of the side in the process.

    The defender has been out of the side this term, playing just once since late September, but early-season goal against Manchester City and, in the league, against Arsenal, have served reminders of his enduring quality.

    Are there really 30 African players who have achieved more than Matip over the last 12 months?

  • Samue Chukwueze - Villarreal

    Samuel Chukwueze

    Arguably Africa’s breakout star of the last 12 months, Chukwueze only made his Nigeria debut last November, but has already established himself as a key figure in Gernot Rohr’s exciting young Super Eagles side.

    The wideman, who excelled at the Africa Cup of Nations—where he netted in the quarter-final victory over Egypt—was also named in Uefa’s ’50 for the future’, a celebration of the most exciting young players to watch in the world game.

    The 20-year-old has already scored eight goals in the Spanish top flight for Villarreal, and expect Europe’s bigger clubs to be circling before too long.

  • Cedric Bakambu - Beijing Guoan 2019

    Cedric Bakambu

    Bakambu has excelled since moving to Chinese football, scoring 27 goals across two seasons with Beijing Guoan as they continue to compete at the top of the CSL and qualify for the Asian Champions League.

    He was one of the few bright points for the Democratic Republic of Congo during a troubled Afcon campaign, scoring three in four outings, and also struck a decisive goal as the Leopards avoided defeat against The Gambia.

    Only Dieumerci Mbokani stands ahead of Bakagoal in the Congolese all-time scoring stakes, and expect the former France U-20 international to surpass the Royal Antwerp hitman before too long.