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Osimhen makes CAF Awards final shortlist: Does Salah’s inclusion put Nigeria’s talisman at risk?

Osimhen has made the top three list for the CAF Player of The Year Award, and he will be looking to break Nwankwo Kanu’s record

The Confederation of African Football uave named Super Eagles striker Victor Osimhen in the three-man shortlist for the CAF Player of The Year Award, Soccernet.ng reports.

Osimhen was nominated alongside Egypt and Liverpool star Mohammed Salah and PSG fullback Achraf Hakimi. While the shortlist looks like a robust one, it is not exactly the top three a lot of fans would have expected.

Osimhen’s place is absolutely irrefutable, Hakimi totally deserves it, but Salah’s inclusion has raised eyebrows. However, a closer look at his statistics may make you rethink.

Since the talk of the CAF Awards started, aside from Osimhen, some of the major names that have been raised are Yassine Bounou, Hakimi, and Hakim Ziyech. And it is quite understandable because of the great World Cup they had with Morocco.

Also, Bounou won the Europa League with Sevilla. In fact, he played a very big role, making some great saves in the run-up to his side’s triumph. Ziyech on the other hand, had an abysmal season at Chelsea. But Hakimi won the Ligue 1 at PSG.

Meanwhile, the two old warhorses- Salah and Sadio Mane were relegated to the background because of their dip in performance last season.

Sadio Mane had a disappointing year at Bayern Munich, registering just 12 goals and six assists in 38 appearances for the Bavarians. Injuries did not also play him a fair hand, as he missed the World Cup.

While it is easy to say that Salah is not a contender for the CAF Awards, a deeper look shows that the 31-year-old has a good shot at winning the award. Salah scored 30 goals in 51 appearance for Liverpool last season. Despite not being at his best, he was the shining light in Liverpool’s poor campaign that saw them miss out on Champions League football.

From the surface, it is easy to say Salah does not stand a chance, but based on popularity- a major yardstick for these awards – and his achievements, the Egyptian star is a top contender.

Nonetheless, Osimhen would hope that his exploits with Napoli would seal the deal for him. Moreover, he was the highest ranking African player at the Balon d’Or Awards few weeks ago. However, just like Mikel, who was expected to win the award in 2013, Osimhen could miss out in 2023.

The award ceremony will take place on the 11th of December.

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