Su­per Fal­cons re­gain top spot at AITEO/CAF Awards

… As Salah re­tains Men’s African Player of the Year

Business Day (Nigeria) - - SPORTS - Sto­ries by AN­THONY NLEBEM

Nine – time African cham­pi­ons, Nige­ria’s Su­per Fal­cons con­tin­ued their dom­i­nance in African foot­ball when they emerged the Women’s Na­tional Team of the Year at the 2018 AITEOCAF African Foot­ball Awards held on Goree Is­land, near Dakar on Tuesday night.

It was the fourth time the Su­per Fal­cons would pick up the pres­ti­gious award, fol­low­ing ear­lier wins in 2010, 2014 and 2016. In De­cem­ber 2018 in Ghana, Nige­ria’s Women Na­tional Team, Su­per Fal­cons won the Women Africa Cup of Na­tions for the third suc­ces­sive time and ninth time over­all.

For the sec­ond year run­ning, the bog oc­ca­sion for re­ward­ing per­form­ers in the game on the African con­ti­nent was bankrolled by Nige­ria’s lead­ing en­ergy so­lu­tion com­pany, AITEO – also the Of­fi­cial Op­ti­mum Part­ner of the Nige­ria Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion.

Also, on the award night, Liver­pool striker Mo­hamed Salah de­feated fel­low team­mate Sa­dio Mane and Ar­se­nal for­ward Pierre-em­er­ick Aubameyang to re­tain the Men’s African Player of the year award for 2018.

The Egyp­tian striker was voted as the African Foot­baller of the Year for the sec­ond suc­ces­sive year at the Con­fed­er­a­tion of African Foot­ball’s awards cer­e­mony in Dakar on Tuesday night.

He edged the same two play­ers last year in a vote de­cided by the tech­ni­cal direc­tors and head coaches of 56 CAF mem­ber as­so­ci­a­tions.

“This award is very big for me, I love it be­cause I saw it when I was young and I al­ways had a dream to win it one day,” Salah said when col­lect­ing his tro­phy for his 2018 ex­ploits.

“I’m proud to win it twice, I must thank my fam­ily and my team mates, and I ded­i­cate this award to my coun­try, Egypt.”

Salah helped Liver­pool reach the 2018 Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal but suf­fered a shoul­der in­jury dur­ing the 3-1 de­feat by Real Madrid in Kiev.

That in­jury raised doubts about his World Cup par­tic­i­pa­tion but he re­gained fit­ness to rep­re­sent Egypt in the fi­nals in Rus­sia, scor­ing twice as they ex­ited in the first round.

Salah has scored 13 Premier League goals this sea­son to guide Liver­pool to the top of the stand­ings.

It is the third time an Egyp­tian player has claimed the crown, with Mah­moud El Khatib’s 1983 vic­tory be­ing the other oc­ca­sion.

Two Heads of Govern­ment, in Pres­i­dent Macky Sall of Sene­gal and Pres­i­dent Ge­orge Weah of Liberia, turned up, joined by FIFA Pres­i­dent Gianni In­fantino, CAF Pres­i­dent Ah­mad, FIFA Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Fatma Samoura ( a Sene­galese), CAF 1st Vice Pres­i­dent/nff Pres­i­dent Amaju Pin­nick, CAF 2nd Vice Pres­i­dent Con­stant Omari and CAF 3rd Vice Pres­i­dent Fouzi Lek­jaa.

There was also the full com­ple­ment of the mem­ber­ship of CAF Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee, leg­ends of the game from across the African con­ti­nent, mem­bers of the di­plo­matic corps and world-renowned artistes who put up mag­nif­i­cent per­for­mances.

Pin­nick picked up the Su­per Fal­cons’ award, pre­sented by four –time win­ner of the Woman Player of the Year, Per­petua Nk­wocha. Nige­ria leg­ends Em­manuel Amuneke (win­ner of the Player of the Year in 1994), Nwankwo Kanu (win­ner in 1996 and 1999), Vic­tor Ikpeba (win­ner in 1997) and the daugh­ter of late Rashidi Yekini (win­ner in 1993) joined the Leg­ends XI pa­rade that also in­cluded Pres­i­dent Weah (the 1995 World, Euro­pean and African Player of the Year), Pa­trick Mboma (Cameroon), El Hadj Diouf (Sene­gal), Fred­er­ick Kanoute (Mali), Di­dier Drogba (Cote d’ivoire), Sa­muel Eto’o Fils (Cameroon) and Mo­hamed Salah (Egypt).

Full list of win­ners

Player of the Year: Mo­hamed Salah (Egypt & Liver­pool)

Women’s Player of the Year: Chresti­nah Thembi Kgat­lana (South Africa & Hous­ton Dash)

Youth Player of the Year: Achraf Hakimi (Morocco & Borus­sia Dort­munmd)

Men’s Coach of the Year: Herve Re­nard (Morocco)

Women’s Coach of the Year: De­siree El­lis (South Africa)

Men’s Na­tional Team of the Year: Mau­ri­ta­nia

Women’s Na­tional Team of the Year: Su­per Fal­cons, Nige­ria

Plat­inum Award: His Ex­cel­lency Macky Sall (Pres­i­dent of the Repub­lic of Sene­gal)

Fed­er­a­tion Pres­i­dent of the Year: Fouzi Lek­jaa

Goal of the Year: Chresti­nah Thembi Kgat­lana (South Africa & Hous­ton Dash)

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