No Nigerian player made the final cut as the Confederation of African Football (CAF) have confirmed Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as the latest nominees for the 2018 African Player of the Year.
Super Eagles star Alex Iwobi was on a 10-man shortlist for the award released in December but the Nigerian player didn’t make the final three.
The shortlist announced on Tuesday, January 1 has current African Player of the year Salah, his Liverpool teammate and Senegal international Mane and Arsenal and Gabon star Aubameyang.
The trio was also the final three for the last edition of the award which was won by Egypt forward Salah.
Salah is favourite to win it again after an amazing year where he helped Liverpool to the Champions League final and ending 2018 top of the Premier League as one of the strongest candidates for the title.
He will look to join legends like El Hadji Diouf of Senegal (2001, 2002) Samuel Eto of Cameroon (2003, 2004) and Yaya Toure (2011, 2012) as the only players to win the prize back to back.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup, however, does not help his case for the award as he struggled to play just two games because of an injury sustained in the Champions League final against Liverpool
Mane however impressed at the 2018 FIFA World Cup where he scored a goal in three games but his efforts were still not enough to take Senegal to the next round.
For Liverpool, the 26-year-old also impressed in the year under review and scored Liverpool’s only goal in the 1-3 to Real Madrid in the Champions League final.
Aubameyang has continued his prolific streak in front of goal for Arsenal since he joined them at the beginning of the year.
This season, he is one of the top scorers in the Premier League.
Disappointing year again
It’s another disappointing year for Nigerian football as none of their players failed to make it to the final three for another year.
No Nigerian player has made it to the final three since 2003 when Mikel John Obi lost out to Côte d’Ivoire’s Toure.
It has also been 18 years since a Nigerian player won the prestigious award. Kanu Nwankwo won it in 1999 and remains the last Nigerian player to win the award.
Since Kanu won the award in 1999, only two Nigerian players, Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha and Mikel have made it to the final three.
Okocha finished runners-up in 1998 behind Morocco’s Mustapha Hadji and third in 2003 and behind Eto'o of Cameroon and Côte d’Ivoire’s Didier Drogba in 2004.
Only four Nigerian players have won the CAF African Player of the Year award. Rashidi Yekini in 1993, Emmanuel Amunike in 1994, Kanu in 1996, 1999 and Victor Ikpeba in 1997.