Brazilians win big at CAF awards
Johannesburg - Mamelodi Sundowns reigned supreme at the CAF awards in Abuja on Thursday night, walking away with three awards. The Brazilians were named Club of the Year after an unforgettable 2016 where the side won the league with a record 71 points, the most in the PSL-era, before lifting the CAF Champions League and then becoming the first South African club to play in the Fifa Club World Cup.
Sundowns are the second club from the country to win this gong after Kaizer Chiefs received it in 2001 after winning all domestic knockout competitions on offer along with the African Cup Winner's Cup. But the Brazilians dominated these awards like no other South African club.
Pitso Mosimane became the first South African to win the Coach of the Year award. "Jingles" joined Noko Matlou in a short list of South Africans who have scooped individual awards in the continent's ceremony.
The Brazilians' goalkeeper, Denis Onyango, completed the hat-trick by winning the Player of the Year – Based in Africa award. Onyango beat competition from Zambian midfielder Rainford Kalaba who won the CAF Confederation Cup with TP Mazembe and his teammate Khama Billiat. The Zimbabwean forward was the runner up to Onyango.
Celebrations didn't stop there for Onyango. Before he took the prestigious award, he watched his country named the best side in the continent as Uganda took home the National Team of the Year. It was a reward for their achievement of qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time in close to 40 years. Onyango played a key role in achieving that, forming a brick wall in goals like he did in Sundowns' march to be African champions.
Banyana Banyana lost out on the Women's National Team of the Year award. That honour went to Africa Women Cup of Nations (AWC) champions Nigeria. The Super Falcons' striker, Asisat Oshoala, who won the Golden Boot in last year's AWC in Cameroon, was crowned as the Queen of African football. Her win was a hit for the home crowd who cheered the 22-year-old loudly when she walked up the podium to take this crown for the second time in three years. But it was Algeria's Riyad Mahrez who shut the place down after he was named Africa's Player of the Year.
Full List of Winners:
National Team of the Year: Uganda
Women's National Team of the Year: Nigeria
Club of the Year: Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa)
Most Promising Talent: Kelechi Iheanacho (Nigeria & Manchester City)
Youth Player of the Year: Alex Iwobi (Nigeria & Arsenal)
Coach of the Year: Pitso Mosimane (South Africa & Mamelodi Sundowns)
Women's Player of the Year: Asisat Oshoala (Nigeria & Arsenal Ladies)
Referee of the Year: Bakary Papa Gassama (Gambia)
African Player of the Year – Based in Africa – Denis Onyango (Uganda & Mamelodi Sundowns)
Football Leader of the Year: Manuel Lopes Nascimento (Guinea-Bissau)
African Player of the Year: Riyad Mahrez (Algeria & Leicester City)