NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 21- Harambee Stars captain Victor Wanyama and striker Jesse Were have missed out as the Confederation of African Football (CAF) released its shortlist of five for the African Player of the Year and the African Player of the Year based in Africa on Tuesday.
Wanyama, was named in the player of the year shortlist while Were who scored four goals in Zesco United’s run to the semi-final of the CAF Champions League was nominated in the initial list of the best players based in Africa.
Leicester City’s duo of Islam Silimani and Riyad Mahrez lead the shortlist of the player of the year with the list also including Liverpool’s Sadio Mane, reigning player of the year Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and AS Roma’s Egyptian star Mohammed Salah.
Leicester’s Mahrez is seen as one of the front runners for the award having been one of the key components in his club’s historic run to the English Premier League title last season.
Mahrez was named the PFA players’ player of the year, becoming the first African to win the award topping up to his 17 goals in the historic season. The winger was also influential in his Algerian national team’s run of qualifying for the 2017 African Cup of Nations unbeaten.
Holder Aubameyang however also has some impressive stats on his chest, having been named the Bundesliga Player of the Year and ended the season with 25 goals, five shy of top scorer Robert Lewandowski.
Egyptian Salah is also considered a prime candidate for the award having scored 14 goals in the Serie A last season, finishing fourth amongst the top scorers. He has started the current season on a high scoring eight goals in 11 games.
For the national team, Salah scored five goals in six games for the Egyptian national team in 2016, to take his tally to 27 for the national team as the Pharaohs qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time since 2010.
African club champions Mamelodi Sundowns players have dominated the final shortlist for the best African players based in the continent, four players making the shortlist of five.
Ugandan goalkeeper Dennis Onyango leads the list that also has Zimbabwean striker Khama Billiat as well as the South African duo of Hlompho Kekana and Keegan Dolly. Zambian captain Rainford Kalaba who led TP Mazembe to the CAF Confederations Cup title has also made the shortlist.
For the final phase, votes from the head coaches or technical directors of the 54 National Associations affiliated to CAF plus Associate Members, Reunion Island and Zanzibar, together with the other half of the 20-member Panel of Experts will be counted towards the determination of the eventual winners.
The 2016 CAF Awards Gala, will be held on January 5 2017 in Abuja, Nigeria.