The superstar from Senegal continued to win the African Footballer of the Year Award, entering the elite group of athletes to win several honors.
When Patrice Motsepe announced Sadio Mane’s name for the evening’s final award in Rabat, he smiled broadly and exuded intense joy.
The newcomer to Bayern Munich was actually expected to win another African Footballer of the Year award given his individual and team achievements since the beginning of the year. The now-iconic play in which he sent a rocket-propelled penalty past his opponent Mohamed Abou Gabal will not be quickly forgotten because he will live long in the memories.
The Teranga Lions had little chance of doing to Senegal what Algeria had done to the West African country in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final since “Gabaski” had stopped the Senegal talisman early on.
Mane was pacing back and forth away from his similarly anxious teammates as the eventual shootout progressed, showing how worried he was. One of the three finalists for Thursday’s top prize, Edouard Mendy, even saved a penalty, a collectible in and of itself, setting the stage for one of the Bayern star’s most memorable career moments.
The man disagrees, placing the honor higher than Liverpool’s Champions League victory in 2019 and the Reds’ inaugural Premier League victory a year later.
After the Senegal team’s victory over Egypt in the Afcon, the star player told GOAL, “I am very proud and I think it is the best moment of my life ever.” “I believe that today is the greatest.
“I’ve won the Champions League and a few other trophies, but I believe this one is special and more significant for me.”
You can kind of see why he values Afcon victory more than any accolades at any club he has ever played for. Senegal lost in the finals in 2002 and again 17 years later in 2019, thus their best player must have felt a great deal of pressure to win the tournament a third time.
At the third attempt, the Teranga Lions finally achieved their first continental victory as that load was lifted with fierce flair.
After the match ended 1-1 overall the following month, Mane was back at it, scoring another crucial penalty kick against the same opponents. The then-Liverpool attacker created Senegal’s two best scoring opportunities of the evening, but Ismaila Sarr turned both of them away. He had not scored in either of the two legs against Egypt.
At Egypt’s cost, Senegal qualified for their third World Cup finals, marking the first time they would qualify for the event on consecutive occasions after their participation in 2018.
In all honesty, Mane deserved to get Thursday’s honor. Salah may have been the best player from September 2021 to June 2022, but his former Liverpool teammate upped the bar at the beginning of the year to clinch continental victory and a World Cup spot.
The result of the aforementioned, along with Mendy-defeating domestic cup victories in the League and FA Cup and nearly reaching the finals in the Premier League and Champions League, was that the attacker had his sights set on a second Footballer of the Year award.
Indeed, it was incontrovertible and the Bayern forward becomes the 10th African, joining Salah as the only active player, to win the award more than once.
“I am so excited to win this award, Mane told Caf Online afterwards. “There are so many players that deserved this award, but I have been chosen.
“I am honoured and I thank everyone for this.”
The humility was expected from the 30-year-old, as observers have become accustomed. Thus, it was no surprise when the attacker yet again played down royalty talks on Thursday, just as he had done after 2019’s triumph.
— CAF (@CAF_Online) July 21, 2022