After an unexplained break, the prestigious Caf awards is staging a comeback, the Confederation of African Football announced on Sunday.
According to CAF, the awards ceremony will take place on July 21, with all of the classic Caf prizes set to be awarded to the most deserving stars in the African game.
The African Footballer of the Year award is the biggest individual prize in the continent’s sport, but who are the favourites to clinch the diadem?
GOAL’s Ed Dove ranks the main contenders for the biggest prize
Sebastien Haller, Ajax
Can any African player truly say they’ve stolen the show at the truly elite end of European football quite like Haller this term?
The striker broke records aplenty during the Champions League group stage, despite it being the first time he’d ever taken part in the European Cup.
Haller ended the UCL campaign with 11 goals in eight matches—behind only Karim Benzema and Robert Lewandowski—and also won another Dutch title with Ajax.
Domestically, he was also the league’s top scorer with 21 goals and twice made the Team of the Month.
An outside bet for the POTY award, his form has prompted reported transfer interest from Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund.
Riyad Mahrez, Man City
Unlike the top two players on this list, Mahrez actually won a domestic title this season, playing a key role as Manchester City again won the Premier League title.
He was in fine form for Pep Guardiola’s side, having a hand in 16 goals during the league season, and a further nine in 12 in the Champions League.
Admittedly, Mahrez endured a disastrous Africa Cup of Nations, but how heavily will his Premier League form register with the Player of the Year voters?
Achraf Hakimi, PSG
Impressive for Paris Saint-Germain—after a slow start—as they won the Ligue 1 title, with Hakimi making it two league titles in two seasons after last year’s success with Internazionale.
He was part of the French top flight’s joint best defence, and also had a hand in 10 goals during the course of the campaign.
Hakimi also excelled at the Nations Cup as Morocco reached the quarter-finals, notably weighing in with sensational goals against Gabon and Malawi en route to making the Team of the Tournament.
Mohamed Salah, Liverpool
Just being nudged out of the top spot in our rankings is Salah, who nonetheless enjoyed a magnificent campaign.
An argument could be made that, during the second half of 2021, he was the best player on the planet, with his remarkable scoring run—complete with wonder goals against Manchester City and Watford—the work of a player at the pinnacle of his game.
Despite enduring heartache at the Afcon and during the World Cup playoffs, Salah nonetheless clinched both the FA Cup and League Cup with Liverpool.
Failure to win the Champions League or the Premier League certainly ended the campaign on a low note, although Salah still won the Golden Boot, and clinched both the FWA Footballer of the Year and PFA Players’ Player of the Year awards.
Sadio Mane, Liverpool
Scoring the decisive penalty in the Africa Cup of Nations final to win Senegal their first-ever title was the defining moment of Mane’s season…and perhaps his career.
It came at the conclusion of a strong tournament—he was also named Man of the Tournament—with Mane making several big contributions during the Lions’ run to the final.
At the club level, during his last season with Liverpool, he was again outstanding as the Reds won two domestic cups but ultimately fell just short in both the Champions League and Premier League.
Like Salah, Mane was included in the PFA Team of the Season, in what was apparently his final achievement as a Red.