Denis Onyango is thrilled by his third nomination. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

PRETORIA – Mamelodi Sundowns’ goalkeeper Denis Onyango has made the 10-man shortlist for the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Footballer of the Year award and nominations such as this keep the Ugandan motivated to always give of his best.

Onyango has had a stellar season for both club and country.

He has been the rock in a Sundowns team that has lost only once in the league this year and also helped Uganda to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations for a second time in a row.

The top-10 also includes players like Sadio Mane of Senegal, Nigeria’s Alex Iwobi, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Gabon and Egyptian star Mohamed Salah.

“It’s fantastic being nominated for the third time in a row,” Onyango said.

“It shows that I have done a great job with the club and the national team. It keeps me motivated as a player. I hope some players also get motivated to be in such a pool of great players on the continent. If you do well, you get recognised in the way I have been recognised.

“Obviously I haven’t won it, but being among the best in the continent is massive for me.”

The Ugandan is currently nursing a knee injury which has ruled him out of football for six to eight weeks.

Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane speaks highly of Onyango, who has served Sundowns with distinction.

“It gives me confidence and motivation when coach Pitso praises me,” Onyango said.

“But at the same time I must work hard and show that I am the best as he says. It keeps me on my toes because the goalkeepers I work with – Reyaad (Pieterse), Thela (Ngobeni) and Kennedy (Mweene) push me to the limit. I must give my best all the time to be in goal.

“This makes me a better goalkeeper and better person.”

Sundowns have a busy schedule, including the Nedbank Cup, the CAF Champions League as well fighting to retain the Absa Premiership title they lifted in May.

On Sunday (today), Sundowns take on Al-Ahly Benghazi of Libya in Egypt in the first leg of their Champions League first-round tie. 

African News Agency (ANA)