Riyad Mahrez enters his second Africa Cup of Nations tournament after a nice run of recognition and success.
The 25-year-old Algerian was named the Confederation of African Football’s Player of the Year for 2016 on January 5th in Abuja, Nigeria.
Last month, Mahrez was also selected as the BBC African Footballer of the Year, and he also won two prizes from the Professional Footballers’ Association: Player of the Year and Fans’ Player of the Year.
During the awards ceremony in Abuja, Nigeria, Mahrez gave credit to his teammates.
We heard Riyad Mahrez say how he is dedicating his African Footballer of the Year trophy to his family. When Riyad was 15, his father, Ahmed, died of a heart attack.
Reflecting on his father’s passing, Mahrez said in 2015: “My dad was always behind me, he wanted me to be a footballer … his death maybe was the kickstart. I don’t know if I started to be more serious but after the death of my dad things started to go for me. Maybe in my head I wanted it more.”
Last season, Mahrez helped Leicester City win a surprising English Premier League title, the first for the club in its 133-year history. He scored 17 goals and finished fifth in the EPL scoring charts.
This season, the Foxes of Leicester have dropped to 15th place in the 20-team EPL (as of January 9th), and Mahrez’s production has slumped, too. He has three goals in 20 matches.
Riyad Mahrez will now assume a leadership role for another group of foxes – the Desert Foxes of Algeria – as they aim for their second Nations Cup title, and first since 1990.
The Algerians advanced to the quarterfinals at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations tournament, before losing, 3-1, to eventual champion Ivory Coast in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.
Mahrez and the Desert Foxes of Algeria will kick off their 2017 Nations Cup campaign January 15th when they play Zimbabwe in Franceville, Gabon.
Three other venues – Oyem, Port Gentil and the capital, Libreville – will also stage matches during the 16-team African football showpiece. The final is scheduled for February 5th in Libreville.