Super Eagles stars Alex Iwobi, Ahmed Musa and Odion Ighalo have made the 34-man shortlist for the 2018 African Player of the Year award.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) on Friday, November 30 released several shortlist for the respective categories of the 2018 CAF Awards. For the African Player of the Year category, they have 34 players who have been shortlisted including Nigeria internationals Iwobi, Musa and Ighalo.
Iwobi in recent months, has become an important player for Arsenal and also impressed with the Super Eagles who just qualified for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
Musa’s moment at the 2018 FIFA World Cup was the most memorable of any African player at the tournament, netting a brace in Nigeria’s group stage win over Iceland. Ighalo has been massive in China where he finished as the second highest goalscorer in the Chinese Super League (CSL) with his 21 goals for Changchun Yatai.
The Nigerian trio will be hoping to make it to the final-three nominees for the award.
No Nigerian player has made it to the final three since 2003 when Mikel John Obi lost out to Côte d’Ivoire’s Yaya Toure. It has also been 18 years since a Nigerian player won the prestigious award. Kanu Nwankwo won it in 1999 and remains the last Nigerian player to win the award
Since Kanu won the award in 1999, only two Nigerian players, Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha and Mikel have made it to the final three. Okocha finished runners-up in 1998 behind Morocco’s Mustapha Hadji and third in 2003 and 2004 behind Samuel Eto’o of Cameroon and Côte d’Ivoire’s Didier Drogba.
Only four Nigerian players have won the CAF African Player of the Year award. Rashidi Yekini in 1993, Emmanuel Amunike in 1994, Kanu in 1996, 1999 and Victor Ikpeba in 1997.
Reigning African Player of the Year Mohammad Salah (Egypt and Liverpool) is also in the list and is favourite to win the award for his exploits for Liverpool where he scored over 40 goals in his debut season helping them the Champions League final.
Sadio Mane (Senegal and Liverpool) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon and Arsenal) who were the other two final nominees in the last edition of CAF Awards are also in the list.
Other notable names on the shortlist include Wilfried Zaha (Côte d’Ivoire and Crystal Palace), Riyad Mahrez (Algeria and Manchester City) and Naby Keita (Guinea and Liverpool).
The winners for the African Player of the Year award will be decided by CAF Technical & Development Committee, media experts, legends, coaches of the quarter-finalists of the CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup, coaches and captains of the national teams of the 54 Member Associations.
34-man shortlist for African Player of the Year
Abdelmoumene Djabou (Algeria & ES Setif)
Ahmed Gomaa (Egypt & El Masry)
Ahmed Musa (Nigeria & Al-Nassr )
Alex Iwobi (Nigeria & Arsenal)
Andre Onana (Cameroon & Ajax)
Anis Badri (Tunisia & Esperance)
Ayoub El Kaabi (Morocco & Hebei China Fortune)
Ben Malango (DR Congo & TP Mazembe)
Denis Onyango (Uganda & Mamelodi Sundowns)
Fanev Andriatsima (Madagascar & Clermont Foot)
Franck Kom (Cameroon & Esperance)
Jacinto Muondo Dala ‘Gelson’ (Angola & Primeiro de Agosto)
Hakim Ziyech (Morocco & Ajax)
Idrissa Gueye (Senegal & Everton)
Ismail Haddad (Morocco & Wydad Athletic Club)
Jean-Marc Makusu Mundele (DR Congo & AS Vita)
Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal & Napoli)
Mahmoud Benhalib (Morocco & Raja Club Athletic)
Mehdi Benatia (Morocco & Juventus)
Mohamed Salah (Egypt & Liverpool)
Moussa Marega (Mali & Porto)
Naby Keita (Guinea & Liverpool
Odion Ighalo (Nigeria & Changchun Yatai, Nigeria)
Percy Tau (South Africa & Union Saint-Gilloise)
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon & Arsenal)
Riyad Mahrez (Algeria & Manchester City)
Sadio Mane (Senegal & Liverpool)
Taha Khenissi (Tunisia & Esperance)
Thomas Partey (Ghana & Atletico Madrid)
Wahbi Khazri (Tunisia & Saint-Étienne)
Walid Soliman (Egypt & Ahly)
Wilfried Zaha (Cote d’Ivoire & Crystal Palace)
Yacine Brahimi (Algeria & Porto)
Youcef Belaili (Algeria & Esperance)