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


WORLD CUP REVIEW: Magic Luka Modric, Paul Pogba perfection and a blundering Brazilian

Updated 17 July 2018
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WORLD CUP REVIEW: Magic Luka Modric, Paul Pogba perfection and a blundering Brazilian

  • Our goals, players, and team of the tournament

France’s 4-2 victory over Croatia on Sunday was the best World Cup final since 1982 and closed out what was a brilliant, drama-packed tournament. Here we look back at the past four and half weeks in Russia to give you our highlights of a memorable month.

MATCH OF THE TOURNAMENT — Belgium 3-2 Japan

In a tournament packed with tense, closely fought matches this was easily the most dramatic. With 21 minutes to go Belgium’s “Golden Generation” were 2-0 down and staring at a shock second-round exit at the hands of Japan. But they proved that alongside the flair and finesse, they also had backbone as strikes from Jan Vertonghen and Marouane Fellaini levelled the score before 90 minutes. That then set up a memorable finale as the Red Devils brilliantly counterattacked in added time with Romulu Lukaku dummying for Nacer Chadli to fire home the late winner. Subs bench: France 4-3 Argentina, Spain 3-3 Portugal, Spain 2-2 Morocco.

PLAYER OF THE TOURNAMENT — Luka Modric

There was a moment in Croatia’s 2-1 extra-time win against England where the midfield maestro’s legs had clearly gone and he was running on pure adrenaline. Yet, even after 105 minutes Modric still went in search of the ball, still looked to create the all-important winner, he never gave up and never looked anything other than pure class. That summed up the entire tournament for the Real Madrid man, and although he ended up on the losing side in the final he was easily the most impressive player in Russia. Subs bench: Kylian Mbappe, Raphael Varane, Eden Hazard.

GOAL OF THE TOURNAMENT — Benjamin Pavard - vs. Argentina, Round of 16

There are certain ingredients you need to win goal of the tournament. A touch of brilliant technique, a dollop of great team play, a slice of “did you just see that” reaction, and for it to come at an important time in the match. Pavard’s volley from 30 yards had all four of those in abundance: 2-1 down to Argentina in the second-round clash, Les Bleus were in need of a bit of magic and while Mbappe rightly took many of the plaudits for his two goals, it was Pavard’s strike that galvanized the French and set them on their way to World Cup glory.

SHOCK OF THE TOURNAMENT — Germany’s early exit

If anyone tells you they thought the defending champions would not get out of the group, there is a very high chance that they are lying. They were ranked No.1 and, while they came into the tournament with a few issues (Leroy Sane dropped, Mezut Ozil and Ilkay Gundogan’s photo op with Turkish president Recep Erdogan), no one thought they would depart as early as they did. They were outclassed by Mexico, needed a last-minute winner against Sweden and looked clueless during their 2-0 defeat to South Korea — it was as embarrassing as it was surprising.

LOSER OF THE TOURNAMENT — Neymar

Where do we start? We could go with the pathetic diving and play acting which would have shamed a four-year-old, the fact he rarely hit the heights that would befit the most expensive player in the history of the game, or we could go with his ridiculous haircut. But what most embarrassed him was his naked narcissism. The fact is that Philippe Coutinho was Brazil’s best player in Russia, but Neymar insisted on taking all the free kicks and being the center of attention. The sooner he realizes that football is a team game and that there are players as good, if not better, than him then the sooner Brazil may win the World Cup again. As long as they pander to Neymar’s inflated opinion of himself they have little chance.

TEAM OF THE TOURNAMENT. (3-5-2)

Goalkeeper — Jordan Pickford (England): Was the star of England’s unexpected march to the semifinals.

Defense — Raphael Varane (France): The best player in the best defense of the whole tournament, sheer class. Harry Maguire (England): Made a name for himself in Russia, will be around for many years to come. Diego Godin (Uruguay): As dominant and solid a defender as you are likely to find.

Midfield — Thomas Meunier (Belgium): In a side packed full of attacking talent Meunier proved one of the most dangerous attackers from deep. Ivan Perisic (Croatia): Brilliant on the ball and always a threat, Perisic was one of the key men behind Croatia’s run to the final. Luka Modric (Croatia): The best player on the ball in Russia was also the best player in the tournament. Paul Pogba (France): How Manchester United fans will wish he could reproduce his mature and dominating performances in Russia for them. Eden Hazard (Belgium): The best dribbler in Russia was always a constant menace for opposition defenses.

Forwards — Kylian Mbappe (France): It is frightening to think just how good he can become. Romelu Lukaku (Belgium): All his goals came from open play and was one of the key reasons behind Belgium’s good tournament.

Subs bench: Thibaut Courtois (Belgium), Yerry Mina (Colombia), Kieran Trippier (England), N’Golo Kante (France), Denis Cheryshev (Russia), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal).