The Confederation of African Football (CAF) have confirmed the three players shortlisted for their 2019 Men's Player of the Year prize, with Liverpool duo Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah in the running for the award alongside Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez.
CAF confirmed the decision on their Twitter account with the following video, along with the three players in the hunt for the women's prize—Valerenga's Njoya Ajara, Barcelona's Asista Oshoala and Beijing BG Phoenix's Thembi Kgatalana:
Salah will be seeking to win the award for a third consecutive time and will consider himself to have a strong chance after a memorable year with Liverpool.
On Saturday, the Reds clinched the FIFA Club World Cup title in Qatar, beating Flamengo 1-0 after extra time. In June, Liverpool won the UEFA Champions League 2-0; Salah was on the scoresheet in that fixture, netting an early penalty.
Although there have been times this season when Salah has appeared to be suffering with his fitness, as of late he's rediscovered his trademark spark. Per football writer Oluwashina Okeleji, the Egyptian was named the best player of the competition at the Club World Cup:
Mane has arguably been just as important to Liverpool's success in 2019, with the Senegal international putting in a number of blistering performances on the left flank.
The winger has excelled under the guidance of manager Jurgen Klopp, blending incredible physical dynamism with intelligence and composure in the final third. The 27-year-old has already grabbed nine goals in the Premier League this term, helping the team build a 10-point lead at the top of the table.
Per Carl Markham of the Press Association, former City midfielder Yaya Toure said Mane deserves to win the award:
Mahrez has already enjoyed an extraordinary year. The Algerian winger helped his country win the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in the summer, as they beat Mane's Senegal in the final.
The City star produced arguably the moment of the competition in the semi-final, as he slammed home a stoppage-time free-kick to see Algeria beat Nigeria 2-1:
Mahrez was also key to City dominating English football in 2019, as they won the Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup last season. In an inconsistent campaign for City, Mahrez has been one of their standout performers, notching five goals and four assists in 14 top-flight outings.
The winners of the respective awards will be confirmed on January 7 in Egypt.