Senegal's Sadio Mane was named Africa's best player for the first time on Tuesday
, with his Liverpool teammate Mohamed Salah sparking controversy for his no-show in his home country.
In a glitzy gala held in the Sahl Hasheesh bay on the Red Sea coast, Mane was rewarded for some splendid displays in 2019 for club and country to beat Salah and Algeria's Riyad Mahrez.
"I would like to thank all Senegalese people. They follow me all the time, they push me. I'm really happy and I'm very proud to win this," Mane said at the ceremony.
"Football is my job, I love it ... This is life, we have to keep dreaming."
Mane was the Premier League's joint top scorer with 23 goals last season, on level with Salah and Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, as Liverpool finished runners-up to champions Manchester City only by the virtue of a single point following a thrilling race.
He and Salah also led Liverpool to their first European Champions League title since 2005 and both made fine starts to the new term in the second half of the calendar year, scoring 10 and nine Premier League goals respectively.
But Mane still went one better than Salah on the international level, which might have proved crucial in the CAF vote by coaches and captains of national teams.
He scored three goals and provided an assist as Senegal reached the African Nations Cup final in Egypt while the hosts suffered an embarrassing last-16 exit, although Salah still managed to net two goals.
Riyad Mahrez, who came third in the vote, steered Algeria to a Nations Cup crown and won with City a second straight Premier League title, but he might have paid the price of struggling for regular football with the Citizens this term.
Salah, winner of the past two editions of CAF's most prestigious individual award, still made headlines at home for declining to attend the ceremony.
Some fans drew comparisons with Mane's decision to attend last year's awards in Senegal when it was clear Salah would be the winner.
"Do you remember the pictures of Mane celebrating with Salah on the podium? I hoped to see the same scene again today, with Salah congratulating Mane this time," said one user on Facebook.
"He also let the whole country down. We wished to see him at home at the ceremony."
Salah did not give any explanations for his no-show.
List of awards
African Player of the Year: Sadio Mane of Senegal.
African Woman player of the Year: Asisat Oshoala of Nigeria.
Interclubs player of the Year: Youcef Belaili of Algeria
Young player of the Year: Achraf Hakimi of Morocco.
Men's Coach of the Year: Djamel Belmadi of Algeria.
Women's Coach of the Year: Desiree Ellis of South Africa.
Goal of the Year: Riyad Mahrez against Nigeria in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations semi-final.
Men's National Team of the Year: Algeria.
Women's National Team of the Year: Cameroon.
Club President of the Year: Moïse Katumbi, chairman of TP Mazembe.
Football Association player of the Year: Egypt.
Special award for Kodjovi Obilale, a former Togo goalkeeper who was injured in a terrorist attack on the team's bus in 2010.
Africa's Best XI: Andre Onana, Achraf Hakimi, Kalidou Koulibaly, Joel Matip, Serge Aurier, Riyad Mahrez, Idrissa Gana Gueye, Hakim Ziyech, Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Soccer Football - African Footballer of Year Awards - Albatros Citadel Sahl Hasheesh, Hurghada, Egypt - January 7, 2020 General view as the team of year is displayed REUTERS
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