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BBC AFRICAN PLAYER OF THE YEAR - SENEGAL - NOMINEE - Sadio Mane

Sadio Mane LiverpoolEmbed from Getty Images


BBC African Footballer of the Year 2017: Sadio Mane profile

Senegal and Liverpool forward Sadio Mane performed so well in 2017 he was not only voted by his fellow professionals onto the PFA team of the year but he was also one of just two Africans to make the Ballon d'Or shortlist.

He also shone as Senegal reached their first World Cup since 2002. 

A clinical victory over South Africa at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane sealed their place in Russia, with Mane key to the Teranga Lions' victory with both assists in a 2:0 win.

In his best goalscoring return for Senegal in a calendar year, Mane struck four times in nine internationals.

It was all a far cry from the beginning of the year as Mane displayed a resilience to match his searing pace, trickery and finishing prowess.

For after an initial blaze of optimism - scoring in Senegal's first two group games at the Africa Cup of Nations - Mane's year took a bitter twist.

His decisive miss in the quarter-final penalty shootout against eventual champions Cameroon reduced Mane to a crumpled, distraught figure.

So how Liverpool were grateful for the way in which the steely Senegalese responded, for they had won just once without him in a seven-game spell in which they had exited both domestic cup competitions.

He duly inspired the Reds' first league win since his departure for Gabon when scoring twice in a 2:0 victory over high-flying Spurs, before also netting in vital wins over Arsenal and rivals Everton, against whom Mane scored in home and away wins.

He ended the season with 13 goals - his best Premier League tally - despite missing nearly all of April and May after having knee surgery.

Mane finished his debut Liverpool campaign as the club's joint top scorer - sharing that honour with Philippe Coutinho despite playing fewer games. He helped the Reds qualify for the Champions League with only their second top-four Premier League finish in eight years.

Liverpool player of the season and players' player of the season awards soon followed.

By the time of his disputed red card against Manchester City in September in the new domestic campaign - which he started with three goals in three games - Liverpool were averaging 2.2 league goals with Mane in the team compared with 1.6 without.

The 25-year-old is hoping to cap his year by winning his first BBC African Footballer of the Year title at the third time of asking.

 

 

24 Nov 2017
(BBC Sport UK)

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