Sadio Mane has bragging rights for at least the year over his club teammate, and fellow African, Mohamed Salah.
On Tuesday, the Confederation of African Football voted Mane as the African Player of the Year for 2019, his first continental individual award. Mane beat out Salah (Egypt), who had won the previous two seasons and Algerian and Manchester City midfielder Riyad Mahrez. Interestingly, it’s the first win for a Senegalese player since El Hadji Diouf won it in 2002, shortly after joining Liverpool, Mane’s current club.
“I’m very happy and proud to win this award,” Mane said, per the CAF. “I thank my teammates at the Senegal national team and also my club, Liverpool for their support.”
Mane’s had a heck of a last 18 months or so. He finished tied for the Premier League Golden Boot with 22 goals and also won the UEFA Champions League and the Golden Boot for that competition in 2019. Then he followed that up by leading Senegal to the African Cup of Nations final, and so far this year, he’s got 11 goals in 18 Premier League matches as the Reds are way ahead in the race for the league title.
From the Associated Press’ Gerald Imray, who has been all over the story:
Furious Tunisian players were guilty of insulting and trying to assault the referee after the game, CAF said, but none of the players were named or punished, according to the statement late Tuesday.
Along with the $50,000 fine, CAF ordered the Tunisian federation to send a letter of apology by the end of Thursday for suggesting the referee’s decision was part of intentional bias on CAF’s part against Tunisia. If the Tunisians did not apologize, CAF said, they could be thrown out of the next African Cup of Nations tournament in 2017.
Well, it’s not like CAF tournaments have done their best to abide by fair play, is it?
In any event, it’s a wild story that continues to take wild turns. And being so close to the final of a major tournament, you can’t help but empathize a bit with Tunisia, searching for its first title since 2004.