2018 CAF Awards Predictions: Who Will Be Crowned Africa’s Star?

Thembi Kgatlana of South Africa celebrates goal during the 2018 TOTAL African Womens Cup of Nations match between Equatorial Guinbea and South Africa on the 21 November 2018 at Cape Coast Stadium, Ghana / Pic Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

The outgoing year has had its highs and lows for African national teams, inidividual players, and coaches, but those lows haven’t stopped standout individuals from being brilliant, and the highs have remained moments of pride. To appreciate talent, hard work and effort, CAF will honour several people at a gala ceremony for the 2018 CAF Awards to be held on January 8, 2019 in Dakar, Senegal.

From the shortlist released by the Confederation of African Football, a lot of permutation has gone on among fans and analysts who have tried to guess which players will take those prestigious awards home come 2019. Here, we make our own selections.

African Men’s National Team of the Year

Predicted Winner: Madagascar                      

Players from Madagascar celebrate their first ever AFCON qualification

Madagascar deserve to win this category, but not without some stiff competition from Uganda, who qualified for their first Africa Cup of Nations tournament in 40 years. The Island nation of Madagascar on the other hand made history by qualifying for their first-ever Africa Cup of Nations tournament to be held in 2019 and did that in grand style becoming one of the first 5 teams to qualify for the tournament in Cameroon.

African Women’s National Team of the Year

Predicted Winner: Nigeria                   

2018 AWCON Champions – Super Falcons celebrating their victory in Ghana on Saturday, Dec. 1

Nigeria faced their stiffest challenge on their way to claiming a record ninth Africa Women Cup of Nations title in Ghana. The win ensured the Super Falcons are set to make their eighth successive FIFA Women’s World Cup appearance, at the tournament scheduled to be hosted by France in 2019. The Super Falcons have dominated the women’s football scene, and we expect this to be an easy win

African Men’s Coach of the Year

Predicted Winner: Moine Chaabani (Tunisia)

Tunis’ coach Moine Chaabani reacts during the CAF Champions League final football match between Egypt’s Al-Ahly and Tunisia’s ES Tunis at the Borg el-Arab stadium on November 2, 2018. (Photo credit: KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images

Three coaches have been nominated from an initial selection of five; Moine Chaabani, Aliou Cisse and Herve Renard. Despite the latter two managing teams at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Chaabani won the 2018 CAF Champions League title with Esperance – the third title for the Tunisian giants —hence he emerges firm favourite by virtue of this victory, because top-rated CAF club competitions are a big deal.

African Women’s Coach of the Year

Predicted Winner: Thomas Dennerby (Nigeria)

Super Falcons coach, Thomas Dennerby with his girls in training

Thomas Dennerby overcame tough conditions and an almost absent preparation to lead Nigeria’s Super Falcons to a ninth African Women Nations Cup title at his first attempt. While many might point to ther individual brilliance of his team, the best XI, showed his opponents had even more in-form players in their ranks. The Swede could perhaps consider himself lucky to have emerged as a champion, after been pushed to the limit by South African Desire Ellis, who we tip as a future winner.

African Youth Player of the Year

Predicted Winner: Wilfred Ndidi (Nigeria)

Ndidi in the Nigerian colours during the International Friendly match between Nigeria and Serbia at The Hive on March 27, 2018 in Barnet, England.

Wilfred Ndidi should emerge winner from the final shortlist of three which includes Achraf Hakimi and Franck Kessie. Despite playing a minimal part, Hakimi won the 2018 UEFA Champions League and also featured at the 2018 FIFA World Cup with Morocco. However, his overall contributions fall short to those of Wilfred Ndidi, who continues to grow from strength-to-strength, for club and country. The 22-year-old Leicester City midfielder, who played every single minute of Nigeria’s 2018 FIFA World Cup campaign, emerged as the top tackler in the English Premier League last season and currently ranks in the top three brackets this season. He also emerged Leicester City’s Young Player of the Year for the 2017/2018 season.

African Player of the Year (Male)

Predicted Winner: Mohamed Salah (Egypt)

Egyptian star player Mohammed Salah during a game at the CAF African Cup of Nations

From a strong field of 10 nominated players which includes former winners of the award, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Riyad Mahrez, this top category of the awards should be a straightforward call in favour of Salah.

Reigning African Footballer of the Year, Mohammed Salah has continued from where he left off last season – a record setting debut campaign at Liverpool, and with Egypt, where despite injury concerns, he scored two goals at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Despite a seemingly slow start to the Premier League campaign, Salah is currently the joint top goalscorer with and has gone on to claim other honours including the 2018 FIFA Pukas Award, third-place UEFA Men’s Player of the Year, and was the highest ranked African in the 2018 Ballon d’Or, finishing sixth.

Salah contributed immensely to the Pharaohs qualifying for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, scoring four times in their final five qualifiers and we tip him to make his second appearance at the continental tournament as the continent’s best player, having already won the BBC African Footballer of the Year Award.

African Women’s Player of the Year

Predicted Winner: Thembi Kgatlana (South Africa)

Thembi Kgatlana of South Africa celebrates goal during the 2018 TOTAL African Womens Cup of Nations match between Equatorial Guinbea and South Africa on the 21 November 2018 at Cape Coast Stadium, Ghana / Pic Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Thembi Kgatlana should break the strong dominance of this category by Nigerian stars, as she is expected to become only the second ever South African to win this award, thus deny reigning holder Asisat Oshoala a third straight honour.

The 22-year-old Houston Dash forward had a 2018 to remember in the colours of the Bayana Bayana, as they qualified for their debut FIFA Women’s World Cup. Kgatlana shone brilliantly at the 2018 Africa Women Cup of Nations, where she emerged as Best Player and top goal scorer with five goals, including a stunning winner in the opening group-stage match against Nigeria. It is on the basis of her five-star performance and soaring ratings that we tip her for the top award.

The CAF Awards remain Africa’s most prestigious football award and have had winners such as Samuel Eto’o, Perpetua Nkwocha, Yaya Toure, and Didier Drogba, who have all gone on to make huge impact on the world stage. We look forward to seeing amazing soccer stars rewarded for their contribution to the beautiful game.

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