He absolutely wanted to attend the ceremony when Bayern Munich did not want him to leave the preseason camp in Washington. However, after having faced and dominated DC United this Wednesday evening, the Senegalese international won his case and flew to Rabat, the venue for this CAF Awards ceremony. And this determination was to give the spectators a small clue about the winner since the two other finalists Mohamed Salah and his compatriot Édouard Mendy had not moved.
But here it is, this Thursday evening, at the Mohammed VI Technical Center, the 30-year-old star won his second trophy for best African player of the year in his career (after 2019). So three years between the first and the second award, but it was with the status of “title holder” that Sadio Mané appeared before the public. Because after 2019, the following two editions had been canceled due to the health crisis. While Édouard Mendy certainly deserved the accolade last season with his Champions League success, this year no one could steal the accolade from Sadio Mané.
The coronation with Senegal, the ultimate title
The new Bayern Munich striker has walked on water all year long both in club and selection and in the most important competitions. Not for nothing if he has long been considered a serious rival to Karim Benzema in the race for the Ballon d’Or. Decisive in the Championship, SM10 was especially decisive in the title race or in the Champions League by being the Reds’ most regular attacking element of the season (23 goals, 5 assists with Liverpool). When Mohamed Salah had a worse shot in January, it was Mané who met his coach’s expectations.
But this new coronation rewards above all the CAN won by Senegal. Author of the victorious penalty in the final, Sadio Mané has continued to carry his own in the competition. Evidenced by his 3 goals and 2 assists, but also his mentality as when he unblocked the situation against Cape Verde in the round of 16 when he suffered from a slight traumatic brain injury after a violent shock. For many observers, this continental title is associated with Sadio Mané. While the country had never won a single CAN, SM10 will remain the first player to have offered glory to his country. And he said it himself last February. “I won the Champions League and a few other trophies, but this one is the most important for me. It’s more important to me.”
A summer full of emotions
The icing on the cake, Sadio Mané also offered qualification for the 2022 World Cup by converting the decisive penalty during the play-offs against Egypt by Mohammed Salah. The Egyptian also finished second in these CAF Awards 2022. As a symbol, after losing the CAN final against Mané and seeing his dream of playing in a new World Cup vanish. But this year was definitely that of Sadio Mané. The Senegalese international will also have had a summer rich in emotion with this trophy and his transfer to Bayern Munich.
“I am very honored to be present at this ceremony here for the fifth time in a row. I want to thank our president and my coach Aliou Cissé without forgetting my teammates in club and selection but also my family from Bambali, my friends and my relatives. I don’t even have the words tonight”he said when receiving his trophy, before going on to a press conference. “As I said from the start I’m very happy to win it because it’s not easy. I want to thank my teammates because without them it would not have been possible just like my club and my selection. I thank everyone for the support. Because they are all behind me from the beginning and even more since the victory at the CAN and the qualification for the World Cup. Thanks to them. I say a big thank you to them as well as to the Senegalese journalists present in the room..