Mohamed Salah favorite to complete awards hat-trick

Mohamed Salah's career has taken off since he moved to Liverpool. (AFP)
Updated 03 January 2018
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Mohamed Salah favorite to complete awards hat-trick

ACCRA: Egypt 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 Liverpool forward, 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 team-mate Sadio Mane of Senegal and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Borussia Dortmund and Gabon are the contenders for the highest African individual football 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 number one African footballer.
“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 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 English 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 footballer.
Footballers from the west of the continent have dominated recently with Samuel Eto’o of Cameroon and Yaya Toure of the Ivory Coast each winning four times.
While Salah has made the top three for the first time, prolific Bundesliga scorer Aubameyang finished first once and second twice in the past three award ceremonies.
Mane came third last season, but his valuable input for Liverpool has been overshadowed by Salah, second in the Premier League scorers’ charts behind Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur.

THE CONTENDERS
Player of the Year
:
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (GAB, Borussia Dortmund/GER), Sadio Mane (SEN, Liverpool/ENG), Mohamed Salah (EGY, Liverpool)
Women’s Player of the Year:
Chrestina Kgatlana (RSA, UWC Ladies), Gabrielle Aboudi Onguene (CMR, CSKA Moscow/RUS), Asizat Oshoala (NGR, Dalian Quanjian/CHN)
Youth Player of the Year:
Patson Daka (ZAM, Liefering/AUT), Krepin Diatta (SEN, Sarpsborg/NOR), Salam Giddou (MLI, Guidars)
Coach of the Year:
Hussein Amoutta (Wydad Casablanca/MAR), Hector Cuper (EGY), Gernot Rohr (NGR)
Club of the Year:
Al Ahly (EGY), TP Mazembe (COD), Wydad Casablanca
National Team of the Year:
Cameroon, Egypt, Nigeria
Women’s National Team of the Year:
Ghana U-20, Nigeria U-20, South Africa


Danny Willett wins in Dubai, Francesco Molinari crowned king of European Tour

Updated 3 min 35 sec ago
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Danny Willett wins in Dubai, Francesco Molinari crowned king of European Tour

DUBAI: Danny Willett ended his title drought in thrilling fashion, winning the DP World Tour Championship by two shots despite a last-hole blunder on Sunday.
It was the 31-year-old Englishman’s first victory since the 2016 Masters, secured with a final-round 4-under-par 68 for an 18-under total of 270.
Francesco Molinari finished in joint 26th place to win the European Tour’s Race to Dubai.
Willett held a two-shot lead on the 18th tee after making a birdie on the 17th, but pushed his tee shot slightly into the bank of a creek that divides the 18th fairway, and then hit a brave second shot from the rocks before making par.
England’s Matt Wallace (68) and American Patrick Reed (70) were joint runners-up at 16-under 272.
A poor second shot from Reed on the first had handed Willett the lead and when the 31-year-old holed a brilliant 45-foot double-breaker for eagle on the par-five second, he was three ahead.
Wallace also birdied the second but gave the shot straight back with a three-putt on the third before making a gain from five feet at the fifth.
Willett then took advantage of the par-five seventh to turn at 17-under, five shots clear of Reed — who had also bogeyed the eighth — and three ahead of Wallace, who made a gain on the ninth after chipping in for par on the eighth.
“It’s been a lot of hard work,” said an emotional Willett. “It’s been tough. I’m just massively proud of myself and everyone that’s been around me.
“You never quite know when a win is around the corner and with all the things that have happened, I was never quite sure if it was going to happen again.
“To happen here at the end of year, we’ve battled long and hard through this season to come out at
the end, regardless of what happened today, a better person and a better athlete. It’s a special place. It’s just nice to be back.
“I’ve started pretty slowly on the first four or five holes all week — but I got off to a quick one today. For that to happen on a Sunday in the position I was in, I knew I was in a good place.”
Molinari, winner of the Open Championship and the BMW PGA Championship this year, secured the season-ending title when his closest rival Tommy Fleetwood failed to win the tournament.
“It’s more than I ever dreamed of achieving,” said 36-year-old Molinari.
“I’m really struggling for words.
“I’ve seen guys that I think are better players than me not winning majors and not winning Order of Merits or Race to Dubai. To achieve those things in one single season is just incredible.”
Meanwhile, Fleetwood was in a philosophical mood.
“It’s just golf, but it does hurt when you have days like that,” he said of his Saturday round.
“I feel the adrenaline might have gone. You kind of know when your time’s up. I lasted within two days of the season and it was always a stretch trying to win it.”