06 Jan, 12:30
Egypt and Liverpool striker Mohammed Salah emerged the 2017 African Player of the Year in a glamorous ceremony held in Accra, Ghana on Thursday night.
The 25-year old beat his club teammate and closest rival, Sadio Mane to the ultimate prize with a total of 625 votes to 507.
There were three phases involved in selecting the best players; the first involved the thirteen members of the CAF Technical and Development Committee, CAF Panel of Media Experts and Independent Media and TV Consultants casting votes for their five preferred candidates in descending order.
The votes were tallied and the best eleven candidates were shortlisted and subjected to the second phase which saw the Head Coaches and Captains of the National Associations affiliated to CAF making their choices together with the Independent Media and TV Consultants.
At this stage, the voters were required to follow the same procedure as in phase one and select their best five in the respective ranks.
The first choice was awarded five points, second awarded four points and so on until the fifth that got a point.
This is the stage where the Uganda Cranes captain Denis Onyango bowed out after collecting only 42 points, 269 less than Gabon skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang; Salah garnered 625 and Mane got 507.
When the three were subjected to the fans vote, Salah overwhelmingly scooped 97.65 of the total 174,924 votes cast.
East Africa snubs Onyango
Not surprisingly, Uganda Cranes captain Denis Onyango and head coach Moses Basena picked Mohammed Salah as their first choice. Salah was the only lucky striker to have successfully penetrated past Onyango’s goal-line in the recently concluded 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
Onyango and Mane came second and third in both choices; Basena picked Victor Moses as his fourth while Onyango preferred Afcon winner Vincent Aboubaker from Cameroon.
Uganda’s arch-rivals, Kenya, did not vote for Onyango. Harambee Stars captain Victor Wanyama completely absconded from the whole process.
The then coach Stanley Okumbi swam against the tides to pick Aubameyang, Victor Moses, Kharim El Khamadi, Bertrand Traore and Vincent Aboubaker.
Tanzania Coach Salum Abdul Mayanga chose Salah while his captain Samatta Mbwana went for Aubameyang.