JOHANNESBURG: Reigning African Player of the Year Riyad Mahrez of Algeria failed to make the 30-nominee list of contenders announced Wednesday (Thursday in Manila) for the 2017 award.
The winger was a key figure in the Leicester City side that defied 5,000-1 odds and stunned the football world by winning the 2015/16 English Premier League title.
But his form subsequently slumped and he was axed by Algeria, whose results have declined dramatically since reaching the second round of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Five Premier League stars are among those hoping to succeed Mahrez when the African Player of the Year is announced in Ghana on January 4.
Liverpool forwards Mohamed Salah of Egypt and Sadio Mane of Senegal will be among the favourites for the leading CAF individual award.
Manchester United centre-back Eric Bailly from the Ivory Coast, Newcastle United and Ghana winger Christian Atsu and winger Victor Moses of Chelsea and Nigeria were other selections.
There are four nominees from Spain’s La Liga and France’s Ligue 1, two from the German Bundesliga, but none from Italy’s Serie A.
Prolific Borussia Dortmund forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the 2015 African Player of the Year and runner-up last year, is likely to be another strong contender.
Portuguese outfit Porto supply the most players with Algerian Yacine Brahimi, Malian Moussa Marega and Cameroonian Vincent Aboubakar listed.
Surprise 2017 Africa Cup of Nations winners Cameroon supply three hopefuls — Aboubakar, Sevilla goalkeeper Fabrice Ondoa and China-based winger Christian Bassogog.
Voted the best player of the Cup of Nations in Gabon, Bassogog was less effective in World Cup qualifying as Cameroon failed to qualify for the 2018 finals in Russia.
Uganda goalkeeper Denis Onyango, who plays for South African club Mamelodi Sundowns, is among 30 nominees for the Africa-based Player of the Year, an award he won last year.
Another South Africa-based contender is former New Zealand striker Jeremy Brockie, who hails from the rugby heartland of Christchurch.
His 10 goals have helped SuperSport United qualify for the CAF Confederation Cup final against TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo later this month.
Nominees for other awards, including best national team, club and coach, will be announced later.