Aubameyang (far right) not dressed for the occasion at the CAF AwardsThursday night in Abuja
Friday Jan 06, 2017. 00:33
Algeria forward Riyad Mahrez was Thursday voted CAF African Footballer of the Year 2016 after he inspired Leicester City to do the impossible by winning the Premier League last season.
Mahrez,25, beat Gabon skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who scooped the prestigious accolade last year, and Senegal star Sadio Mane, who features for Liverpool.
The France-born forward said it was an honour to be named the best African player for the past year.
“It’s a huge honour, I am happy and pleased. I thank all my teammates at Leicester and Algeria,” Mahrez said after he received the award.
“I dedicate this to my family and all those who support me every day.”
He polled 361 votes, Aubameyang earned 313 votes, while Mane was a distant third on 186 votes.
“What Mahrez achieved with Leicester City last season gave him the edge. He has now joined his other illustrious countrymen Lakhdar Belloumi and Rabah Madjer in this exclusive club,” remarked 1997 African Footballer of the Year Victor Ikpeba.
Leicester City caused a major shock when as 5,000-1 outsiders they went on to win the Premier League last season.
Mahrez played a key role in the stunning run of ‘The Foxes’ – 17 goals, 10 assists in 37 appearances.
He was the first Algerian to win a Premier League winners’ medal and spark a massive following back home in Algeria for the club, who he had first thought was a rugby club when he was contacted to join them four years ago.
All three players who made the short list for the African Footballer of the Year were also picked in CAF XI that also feature Ivory Coast defender Eric Bailly from Manchester United.
Goalkeeper Denis Onyango was picked for the African Player of the Year Based in Africa ahead of Mamelodi Sundowns teammate Khama Billiat and Zambia’s Rainford Kalaba.
Onyango was outstanding when seven-time South African champions Sundowns won an historic CAF Champions League and also when Uganda qualified for this year’s Africa Cup of Nations after a long absence.
Nigeria’s Asisat Oshoala grabbed her second African Women’s Player of the Year award on the back of her goals and five-star displays as Nigeria retained their continental crown in Cameroon.
The Arsenal Ladies star won her first when she also helped the Super Falcons emerge African champions in 2014.
Nigeria youngsters Kelechi Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi won the Most Promising Talent and Youth Player of the Year awards, respectively.
Gambian referee Bakary Papa Gassama won the Best Referee Award for the third straight year.
List of award winners:
AFRICAN PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Riyad Mahrez (Algeria & Leicester City)
AFRICAN PLAYER OF THE YEAR-BASED IN AFRICA
Denis Onyango (Uganda & Mamelodi Sundowns)
WOMEN’S PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Asisat Oshoala (Nigeria & Arsenal Ladies)
MOST PROMISING TALENT
Kelechi Iheanacho (Nigeria & Manchester City)
YOUTH PLAYER OF THE YEAR
COACH OF THE YEAR
Pitso Mosimane (Mamelodi Sundowns)
CLUB OF THE YEAR
NATIONAL TEAM OF THE YEAR
WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM OF THE YEAR
REFEREE OF THE YEAR
Bakary Papa Gassama
The CAF African XI for 2016
: Denis Onyango (Uganda & Mamelodi Sundowns)
: Serge Aurier (Cote d’Ivoire & PSG), Aymen Abdenour (Tunisia & Valencia), Eric Bailly (Cote d’Ivoire & Manchester United), Joyce Lomalisa (DRC &AS Vita)
: Khama Billiat (Zimbabwe & Mamelodi Sundowns), Rainford Kalaba (Zambia & TP Mazembe),Keegan Dolly (South Africa & Mamelodi Sundowns)
:Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon & Borussia Dortmund), Sadio Mane (Senegal & Liverpool), Riyad Mahrez (Algeria & Leicester City)
Aymen Mathlouthi (Tunisia & Etoile du Sahel), Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal & Napoli), Salif Coulibaly (Mali & TP Mazembe), Islam Slimani (Algeria & Leicester City), Mohamed Salah (Egypt & Roma), Kelechi Iheanacho (Nigeria & Manchester City), Alex Iwobi (Nigeria & Arsenal)