As Sadio Mane climbed the stage to take his crown, there was a real feeling of excitement not
only in the beautifully decorated hall of the Albatros Citadel Sahl Hasheesh Resort in Egypt but
in his home country of Senegal and his village Bambali where thousands gathered to watch their own.
This feeling of exhilaration was recognized by Mane in his acceptance speech with glowing
tributes to teammates, Senegal and of course the famous Bambali village.
“I’m really happy and really proud at the same time. I would like to thank my family, especially my uncle who is here today. It is a big day for me
and I would love to thank all the Senegalese people who have been voting for me. I’m from a very small village called Bambali and I’m sure they are all watching me tonight.”
The award was Mane’s first and the countries third but first, since El Hadji Diouf won his second in
2002, the first which came at the expense of Ghana’s very own Samuel Osei Kuffour.
Mane’s glory which came as a result of a Champions League gold medal, an AFCON silver
medal and a personal record of gobsmacking 35 goals and 11 assists in the year just gone by is
seen as an acknowledgement of the progress made by a country whose football has been on the
ascendancy for some time now.
Somewhere in another West African country, thousands of football lovers who watched the event via the sports channel of the state broadcaster and
followed on social media were gnashing their teeth in rage and disappointment over how none of it’s over thousand footballers was called upon for recognition.
The rage was not because CAF unfairly removed their players from the list of winners nor was it because their players performed above themselves
to earn consideration, it was simply because none,
absolutely none of its footballers or teams deserved to win any of the 13 awards..
To them, watching players and clubs of other nationals sweep the continental award was a harsh reminder of how deep their football has sunk in
recent years and need quick fixes to revive it.
It feels like it’s been ages since any Ghanaian player or club was called up for an award for
excelling at both club and national team level.
In the last four years, the only points of pride for Ghanaians when it comes to the CAF Award have been a legend award to Ibrahim Sunday and Thomas Partey’s inclusion in the 2018 CAF Team of the Year.
People who hoped that Partey was going to repeat this feat were left disappointed as the only position he could occupy in the team was given to Idrissa
Gana Gueye of Senegal and PSG.
For the flagship award, it’s some distant past since a Ghanaian made it to the final three of the
CAF Men’s Best Player Award.
Since Andre Ayew finished behind Pierre-Emerick
Aubameyang and Yaya Toure in 2015, no Ghanaian
player has gotten close to the coveted prize.
Thomas Partey and Jordan Ayew did enough to make the preliminary 30-man list but their
performance for Atletico Madrid and Crystal Palace
respectively and for Ghana were considered not good enough for the final ten.
Abedi Pele made a hat-trick of wins with his last award in 1992 and since then no Ghanaian has
walked to the podium like Mane did last night.