Warriors miss out on Caf award

HARARE - The Warriors are out of the running for the 2018 Confederation of African Football (Caf) National Team of the Year Award after the shortlist was revealed yesterday.

Zimbabwe was last month nominated by Caf for the prestigious award together with Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritania and Uganda.

However, Caf yesterday announced a final list of the nominees for the awards to be held in Dakar, Senegal, on January 8, next year.

Madagascar, Mauritania and Uganda are the remaining teams up for the gong following their stellar performances in the on-going 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers.

Mauritania and Madagascar made history by sealing their first qualifications for the Afcon finals already with at least a game to spare.

Uganda, who made a return to the Afcon finals after a 36-year absence in 2017, have also qualified for a second successive tournament.  

The Warriors had landed the nomination after enjoying a relatively successful 2018 in which they defended their Cosafa Cup title in South Africa back in June.

Sunday Chidzambwa’s side also moved a step closer to qualifying for the 2019 Afcon after earning some good results to sit top of Group G with eight points from five matches.

Zimbabwe first travelled to Brazzaville where they held Congo to a 1-1 draw back in September before stunning the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with a 1-2 win in Kinshasa back in October.

Zimbabwe’s only defeat thus far in Group G came last month when they lost 1-0 away to Liberia in Monrovia.

The Warriors will seal a place at the Afcon finals if they avoid defeat to Congo in the final Group G game at the National Sports Stadium next March.

Meanwhile, three Africa-based players have made the 10-man shortlist for this year’s Caf awards.

Tunisia and Esperance forward Anis Badri joins Uganda and Mamelodi Sundowns goalkeeper Denis Onyango and the Egypt and Al Ahly midfielder Walid Soliman on the list.

Last year’s winner, Mohamed Salah of Egypt and Liverpool, is one of five English Premier League players shortlisted.

Salah’s club team-mate Sadio Mane of Senegal also makes the cut, along with Arsenal duo Alex Iwobi of Nigeria and Gabon’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and former Caf award winner Riyad Mahrez of Algeria and Manchester City.

Cameroon’s Andre Onana and Morocco’s Mehdi Benatia are also shortlisted from the preliminary list of 34 names.

Another Premier League star, Wilfred Ndidi of Nigeria and Leicester City, makes the Youth Player of the Year list, along with Morocco’s Achraf Hakimi and Ivorian Franck Kessie.

In the Women’s Player of the Year shortlists, Malawi’s Tabitha Chawinga is the only player who did not feature at this year’s Women’s Africa Cup of Nations.

The other nine players, picked from the preliminary list of 15, come from teams who played at Ghana 2018, including last year’s Caf award winner Asisat Oshoala who helped Nigeria lift the trophy. 

– Additional reporting by BBC

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