Nigeria stars Kelechi Iheanacho, Mikel Obi and Ahmed Musa are among 30 players nominated by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) for the African Footballer of the Year 2016 award.
This is Iheanacho’s first-ever nomination for the continent’s top individual accolade after he enjoyed a breakthrough season with Manchester City in the English Premier League. The 20-year-old striker has also established himself at full international level after he has represented Nigeria at U17 and U20 levels.
Chelsea midfielder Mikel inspired Nigeria to win bronze at the recent Rio Olympics, while Ahmed Musa has shone at Russian champions CSKA Moscow before his big-money move to Leicester City.
One of the favourites for the award is Algerian playmaker Riyad Mahrez, who was voted the best player of the last Premier League season by his fellow professionals. His fellow Algerian and teammate at Premiership champions Leicester City, Islam Slimani was also nominated. In all, three Algerians were nominated, just like Nigeria. Coted ‘Ivoire are the other country with three nominees.
Former winner, Cameroonian Samuel Eto’o has also been nominated along with the current holder, Pierre Emerick Aubemeyang of Gabon and Borussia Dortmund. Surprisingly, there is no nomination for four-time winner Yaya Toure of Cote d’Ivoire and Manchester City.
Other notable names include Sadio Mane who plays for Senegal and Liverpool, and Egypt international, Mohammed Salah who plies his trade with Roma.
The full list of nominees include:
1. Riyad Mahrez (Algeria & Leicester City) 2. El Arabi Hillel Soudani (Algeria & Dinamo Zagreb) 3. Islam Slimani (Algeria & Leicester City) 4. Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon & Antalyaspor) 5. Benjamin Mounkandjo (Cameroon & Lorient) 6. Serge Aurier (Cote d’Ivoire & PSG) 7. Eric Bailly (Cote d’Ivoire & Manchester United) 8. Yao Kouasi Gervais ‘Gervinho’ (Cote d’Ivoire & Hebei Fortune) 9. Mohamed Salah (Egypt & Roma) 10. Mohamed El Neny (Egypt & Arsenal) 11. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon & Dortmund) 12. Andre Ayew (Ghana & West Ham) 13. Victor Wanyama (Kenya & Tottenham) 14. William Jebor (Liberia & Wydad Athletic Club) 15. Mehdi Benatia (Morocco & Juventus) 16. Hakim Ziyech (Morocco & Ajax) 17. John Mikel Obi (Nigeria & Chelsea) 18. Kelechi Iheanacho (Nigeria & Manchester City) 19. Ahmed Musa (Nigeria & Leicester City) 20. Cedric Bakambu (DR Congo & Villareal) 21. Yannick Bolasie (DR Congo & Everton) 22. Sadio Mane (Senegal & Liverpool) 23. Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal & Napoli) 24. Keegan Dolly (South Africa & Mamelodi Sundowns) 25. Itumeleng Khune (South Africa & Kaizer Chiefs) 26. Mbwana Samatta (Tanzania & Genk) 27. Aymen Abdennour Tunisia & Valencia) 28. Wahbi Khazri (Tunisia & Sunderland) 29. Dennis Onyango (Uganda & Mamelodi Sundowns) 30. Khama Billiat (Zimbabwe & Mamelodi Sundowns).