Borussia Dortmund’s Gabonese goal king Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang remains in the running to defend his African Player of the Year crown after making the final shortlist of five players on Tuesday.
But the 27-year-old faces competition from Leicester’s Algerians Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani, Senegal’s Sadio Mane of Liverpool and Egyptian striker Mohamed Salah who also made the final cut for the African Football Confederation’s annual award.
The winner will be announced on January 5 in Abuja, Nigeria after votes by a panel of ten experts and 54 national team coaches.
Aubameyang was voted German Bundesliga player of the year last season and would appear favourite to retain the African title he clinched after a four-year spell of Manchester City’s Yaya Toure winning.
But the pin-point passing and astonishing focus of 25-year-old winger Mahrez impressed as he helped propel Leicester City to the English title last season. He scored 17 goals with 11 assists in that campaign.
Slimani is coming off a very good season with Sporting Portugal earning a switch to Leicester.
Salah has been brilliant for both Egypt and AS Roma after a difficult time at Chelsea but at 24 may not quite have peaked.
Mane, also 24, has been on glittering form since joining Liverpool for a fee that made him the most expensive African in football history.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (GAB/Dortmund/GER)
Riyad Mahrez (ALG/Leicester/ENG)
Sadio Mane (SEN/Liverpool/ENG)
Mohamed Salah (EGY/AS Roma/ITA)
Islam Slimani (ALG/Leicester/ENG)