Liverpool star Salah favorite to complete top African awards hat trick

Source:AFP Published: 2018/1/3 22:48:39

Liverpool star Mohamed Salah hopes to add the African Player of the Year award in Ghana on Thursday to his rapidly ­expanding collection of individual honors. The Egyptian, scorer of 23 goals in all competitions midway through his first season at Anfield, has been voted BBC African Footballer of the Year and Arab Player of the Year.

Salah, Liverpool teammate Sadio Mane of Senegal and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Borussia Dortmund and Gabon are the contenders for the highest African individual soccer honor.

The scoring feats of Salah have installed him as the public and media ­favorite to succeed Algerian Riyad Mahrez of Leicester City as the No.1 ­African player.

"I want to be the best Egyptian footballer ever," said Salah after receiving the BBC award last month.

"When I came to Liverpool I hoped to show everyone my abilities. I scored a lot of goals with Roma and am very happy being successful at Liverpool."

Salah and Mane will leave Accra, Ghana soon after the awards ceremony as Liverpool have a Friday night FA Cup third-round derby date with Everton.

However, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp did not hesitate to release his ­African duo for the Accra ceremony, which will include six other awards.

"It is a sign of respect," he told ­reporters in Liverpool. "We sleep in a ­hotel and they sleep in a plane. That is the only difference."

Salah is a doubt for the Merseyside showdown, though, having missed the Premier League victory at Burnley this week owing to a groin strain.

Should Salah be named Player of the Year, he will be only the second Egyptian after 1983 winner Mahmoud al Khatib to hoist the symbol of individual brilliance.

It would be the first time since 1986 that North Africans have won successive editions of the annual poll, which this year involved national coaches, journalists, officials and the public.

Morocco midfielder Mohamed Timoumi was the 1985 winner, followed by compatriot Badou Zaki, one of two goalkeepers to be voted the best African player.

Players from the west of the continent have dominated recently with Samuel Eto'o of Cameroon and Yaya Toure of Cote d'Ivoire each winning four times. 



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