Ghana’s leading sports page, Ghanasportspage.com has shortlisted the top ten footballers to compete for next year’s African Footballer of the Year Award 2023.
Sadio Mane who lifted the award in 2022 is still in the race.
The others on the list include his former Liverpool teammate Salah, Manchester City‘s Riyad Mahrez, Napoli’s Osimhen, Al Nassr’s Vincent Aboubakar, Borussia, Paris Saint-Germain’s Achraf Hakimi, Kudus Mohammed of Ajax, Arsenal midfielder, Thomas Partey, Sevilla, Morocco goalkeeper, Yassine Bounou, and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting of Bayern Munich.
Here are the top ten shortlisted African players, ranked by GSP1 Media
10. Yassine Bounou (Morocco & Sevilla)
The Morocco shot-stopper was impressive as the Atlas Lions became the first country from Africa to reach the semi-final of the World Cup.
The goalkeeper had an outstanding finish to the last season, winning the Zamora Trophy, having emerged as the goalkeeper that conceded the lowest goal to games ratio in La Liga.
Sevilla is one of the best goalkeepers in La Liga.
He beat the likes of Barcelona’s Marc Andre Ter-Stegen, Real Madrid’s Thibaut Courtois, and Atletico Madrid’s Jan Oblak to the title.
His saves ratio remains impressive in La Liga with Sevilla, and he had experience from the just-ended World Cup in Qatar.
He has been shortlisted for the FIFA best goalkeeper award following his outstanding performances for Morocco and Sevilla.
9. Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting – Bayern Munich and Cameroon)
In the current season, the 33-year-old has scored six goals and takes third place within his squad. He shares this rank with Leroy Sané. With two assists, the 1.91m-tall forward presently has the sixth-most in his team along with Joshua Kimmich and Leroy Sané. So far, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting has taken 11 shots at goal. With this result, he has secured himself, along with Kingsley Coman, 10th place on the team-internal leaderboard for this category. The player with shirt number 13 additionally made six passes to a shot. In six of the previous 10 games of the season, he was in the starting line-up. Of these 10 games, he won 7 with his club. Additionally, he was substituted in for four games.
He was a key member of the Cameroonian national team that participated in the Qatar 2022 FIFA World.
8. Thomas Partey (Arsenal & Ghana)
The Ghanaian midfielder has been in sensational form for the Gunners so far this season, helping Mikel Arteta’s side to the top of the Premier League table.
Arsenal’s No. 5 has appeared 13 times for the Gunners in the Premier League, scoring two goals in the process. He has become an indispensable member of the side and has formed a formidable partnership with Granit Xhaka and Martin Odegaard in the Arsenal midfield.
7. Kudus Mohammed (Ajax & Ghana)
The 22-year-old has been in excellent form for his Dutch club, scoring 10 goals and registering two assists in 21 appearances across all competitions.
Kudus has five goals and two assists in 14 Eredivisie appearances this season, and he impressed in the Champions League group stage, scoring four goals and providing two assists in six appearances.
In 63 games for Ajax across all competitions, the forward has scored 15 goals and recorded six assists. He scored against Liverpool in the Champions League back in September.
He appeared as one of the best players in the just-ended FIFA World Cup, scoring twice for Ghana.
6. Vincent Aboubakar (Al Nassr and Cameroon)
Having won the AFCON 2021 Golden Boot, Aboubakar was arguably Africa’s best forward at the just-ended 2022 FIFA World cup in Qatar.
The Al Nassr forward once more showed how good he is during the tournament. He climbed from the bench to score an outstanding goal against Serbia.
He imposed his quality to add up to the Indomitable Lion’s momentum at the tournament.
With this effect, Vincent Aboubakar becomes the first African to come on as a substitute and score and assist in a FIFA World Cup game.
His razor-sharp header against Brazil was all Cameroon needed to break the African jinx against the Samba Boys.
The former FC Porto forward has had 2022 to remember, as he has put up probably one of his best stints for club and country.
5. Victor Osimhen (Napoli & Nigeria)
The Nigerian attacker has the type of track record which means it’s no surprise he’s a wanted man for some top European clubs in the upcoming transfer window.
The Nigerian has averaged roughly a goal every other game across the last four seasons, including 14 strikes in 27 Serie A outings last term. Napoli(opens in new tab) are loath to lose him.
Eleven goals in 21 appearances for Nigeria is an impressive tally too, and his absence from this year’s Africa Cup of Nations was keenly felt by the Super Eagles.
Despite missing this year’s FIFA World Cup, the 23-year-old Nigerian forward can make it to the last five.
With his goal against Atalanta, the 23-year-old became the highest-scoring Nigerian in the Serie A with 32 goals in 60 matches, according to squawk.
He has nine goals and two assists in all competitions this season and is Serie A’s top scorer despite missing three weeks because of an injury.
4. Achraf Hakimi (PSG & Morocco)
At the age of 24, Hakimi’s already played for four of Europe’s biggest clubs Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Inter, and PSG.
An attack-minded full-back who can play on either flank and higher up the pitch if needed, the Morocco international loves to get forward either by overlapping or underlapping.
Indeed, Hakimi isn’t just a flier: he also has the technical ability to come infield and create, as he does with aplomb for club and country.
Hakimi is the latest to join the list of geniuses at the World Cup who showed no fear, kept their nerves when the moment of truth came, and followed in Panenka’s footsteps, tricking Spanish goalkeeper, Simon into expecting a thunderous shot, only to scoop the ball up over his head, allowing it to gently land in the goal.
His outstanding performance helped the Atlas Lion of Morocco to become the first African team to finish fourth at the World Cup. The Moroccan defense was the strongest in the competition, conceding only five goals throughout, four of which were during the last two matches.
3. Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City & Algeria)
No team in Europe’s top five leagues scored more goals than Manchester City in 2021/22, and it was Mahrez who finished as the Premier League champions’ top scorer in all competitions.
The Algeria international made the net bulge 24 times in total. Opposing full-backs know that he wants to cut onto his left foot, but stopping him is much harder than it sounds.
It was a disappointing season for Mahrez at the international level, though, as Algeria flopped at the Cup of Nations and failed to qualify for Qatar.
He has already scored six goals in all competitions for Manchester City this season.
2. Mohammed Salah (Liverpool & Egypt)
The winner of the PFA Player of the Year in 2021/22, Salah was exceptional as Liverpool won both domestic cups and finished as runners-up in the Premier League and the Champions League.
The Egyptian scored 31 goals in 51 games in all competitions. A devastating finisher, he’s also a magician in tight areas and can beat defenders with either pace or trickery.
There was disappointment at the Cup of Nations and in the World Cup play-offs, but Salah’s status as Africa’s best player is undisputed. Salah has bagged 7 goals in the ongoing Premier League for Liverpool.
1. Sadio Mane (Bayern Munich & Senegal)
Senegal’s star player was magnificent throughout his seven-year spell at Anfield. In many ways, he was the perfect fit for Klopp’s Liverpool: hard-working, energetic, dynamic, and a superb technical footballer before joining Bayern Munich.
Mane is also a leader, as he demonstrated at both the Africa Cup of Nations and in Senegal’s successful World Cup qualification campaign.
The AFCON holders were disappointed the forward was ruled out of the World Cup due to injury.
Senegal coach Aliou Cisse lamented the absence of the star player after the side crashed out of the FIFA World Cup following a 0-3 defeat against England in the Round of 16.
After losing Mane through injury, Senegal managed to reach the last-16 stage but was reminded of his influence in Sunday’s clash against England at the Al Bayt Stadium.
Mane, the current African Footballer of the Year, was ruled out on the eve of the Qatar World Cup owing to a knee injury, which he suffered in a Bayern Munich match in the Bundesliga.
Having finished second in the 2022 Ballon d’Or, only ranking behind unstoppable Karim Benzema, Mane was considered Africa’s best hope to make a mark in the tournament after the continent saw all five representatives failing to sail through the group stage during the 2018 World Cup. However, expectations from Senegal significantly reduced with the absence of Mane.
In the ongoing season, the the forward has already scored twelve goals in all competitions for the Bundesliga side.