Senegal and Liverpool forward Sadio Mane has been hailed by former Nigeria international, Benedict Akwuegbu, as a worthy recipient of the 2019 African Footballer of The Year award, Completesports.com reports.
Mane became the second Senegalese player to scoop the prestigious individual football award after El Hadji Diouf won the award in 2001 and 2002.
Akwuegbu, has sent out words of commendation to the Liverpool front man, saying he was truly deserving of the award.
Amidst suggestions that Algeria and Manchester City winger, Riyadh Mahrez posted a better result for both club and country in 2019 and should have been crowned as AFOTY, Akwuegbu reasoned otherwise, saying Mane was a better consistent player in the period considered for the top honour.
“Mahrez is a good player, he did his best to help Manchester City and Algeria win trophies last year but Mane remains a better individual player,” Akwuegbu told Completesports.com from his base in London.
“In 2016, Mane was listed amongst top three African players and he finished third in the award.
“In 2017, he finished in second place and again in 2018 he emerged runner up on the final awards night.
“What this shows is a player who has remained consistent, a player who is always working hard and I believe Mane truly deserved the award this time around and I say congratulations to him”.
The former U17, Flying Eagles and Super Eagles striker nicknamed ‘Austria Bomber’ is not pleased that Nigerian players are no longer making the CAF top three for the African Footballer Of The Year award.
“Late Rashidi Yekini, Emmanuel Amuneke and Victor Ikpeba all won the award in the 1990s,” Akwuegbu added.
“It is sad that these days, almost three decades after, Super Eagles players are struggling to make the top 50 nomination and hardly get a look in for the final top three,” the onetime Sturm Graz of Austria striker lamented.
He also hits out at the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) for allegedly not treating Nigeria’s retired footballers well.
He also accuses NFF of always been ‘selective’ whenever they chose to look in the direction of former national team players.
“Take a look at the composition of the NFF, how many ex Super Eagles players can you point out?
“How many ex-players who served the nation can you see coaching any of the national teams?
“Even the Technical Committee (of NFF), the story is the same. But is this what obtains in other countries?
“The answer is no, and we need to change and do things the right way,” Akwuegbu said while also lamenting a lack of unity amongst the retired Nigerian footballers.
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