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Osimhen, Salah and Hakimi: Who will be crowned Africa’s king?

Osimhen, Salah and Hakimi: Who will be crowned Africa’s king?

Story by Raynald Ngwarati, Sports Reporter

Moments before the crowning ceremony, the battle lines have been drawn on the motherland with Nigeria, Egypt and Morocco standing on their toes with optimism their stars will clinch the CAF African Men’s Player of The Year title.

It is the defining moment as the best African Player for 2023 will be crowned, and arguably three of the finest footballers from the continent have all set their sights on the top gong.

Nigerians will find it hard to blink from this moment onwards, hoping that Napoli forward Victor Osimhen, who arguably had the season of his life for the Serie-A side, will bring the award to Nigeria.

The Nigerian international is the favourite to bag the prestigious continental honour after scoring 31 goals in 36 appearances for Napoli in Serie-A and the UEFA Champions League.

However, Osimhen is not fighting a lone battle as he’s up against Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah and Moroccan international, Achraf Hakimi.

Salah has won the award twice so far and will be hoping to get his hands on yet another continental honour.

The Egyptian had another splendid season as he found the back of the net 27 times out of 41 appearances in the English Premier League and the UEFA Champions League.

He recently made history after becoming the first African to reach 200 goals in all appearances for Liverpool, whilst becoming the fifth to reach the milestone for ‘The Reds.’

The other nominee, Achrafe Hakimi, had a good season after winning Ligue-1 with PSG during the 2022-23 season.

Winning the league with PSG is just a tip in the iceberg as the 25-year-old made history with Morocco at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

Hakimi captained his nation to become the first African nation to reach the world cup semifinals, a record feat which won him the hearts of his countrymen who named a stadium after him.

While the focus is on the three shortlisted stars, the feeling is different in Algeria as the Algerians feel that Riyard Mahrez should have made the list.

Mahrez who was part of Manchester City’s treble- winning squad, was not inducted into the final three which has not gone down with the Algerian Football Association.

As a result, Algerian FA President Walid Said has threatened to boycott tonight’s CAF Awards in protest against Mahrez’s exclusion from the three men shortlist for the Men’s African Footballer of the Year.

Like most of his countrymen, Said believes Mahrez deserves a top-three spot over Hakimi and Salah.

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