Johannesburg (AFP) – Trophy-holder Mohamed Salah is among 30 nominees named Sunday for the 2019 African Player of the Year award.
He is one of 10 English Premier League stars to make the list, which includes his Liverpool teammates Sadio Mane and Naby Keita.
There are two each from Arsenal (Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe) and Crystal Palace (Jordan Ayew and Wilfried Zaha).
Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City), Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City) and Mahmoud ‘Trezeguet’ Hassan (Aston Villa) complete the contenders from the Premier League.
A further 12 nominees come from other European leagues — France (three), Belgium, Italy, Netherlands (two each) and Germany, Portugal and Spain (one each).
Of the other eight contenders for an award introduced in 1970, five play for Asian clubs and three are based in Africa.
Egyptian Salah is seeking a Player of the Year hat-trick, but may be pipped for first place this time by Senegalese Mane, who is having an outstanding season with Liverpool.
Mane also helped Senegal reach the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final, which they lost 1-0 to Algeria in Cairo.
Other former African Player of the Year winners in contention are Mahrez, who captained Algeria to their first Cup of Nations title since 1990, and Aubameyang.
Madagascar, who took African by storm when reaching the Cup of Nations quarter-finals last July, are among five challengers for the national team award.
A surprise nominee for Club Player of the Year is winger Meschak Elia from the Democratic Republic of Congo club Tout Puissant Mazembe.
He recently received a worldwide one-year ban for falsifying his age while seeking a transfer to Swiss club Young Boys.
The winners of the various men’s and women’s awards will be announced at a ceremony in the Egyptian resort of Hurghada on January 7.
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