Egypt and Liverpool star Mohamed Salah says he’s very happy to win the African Footballer of the Year award for a second consecutive year, but an even bigger prize will be at stake on home soil later this year: the Africa Cup of Nations trophy.
Just a few hours before the 26-year-old Salah was named the 2018 African Player of the Year in Dakar, Senegal, Egypt was awarded the hosting rights to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations tournament.
Salah says he would love to lift the African Nations Cup in Egypt, which will be hosting the African football showpiece for a fifth time.
It’s a chance to shine on his home stage and Egyptian fans surely will be cheering for Salah, who already is a national hero.
In the capital, Cairo, you can see murals and graffiti of Salah, whose popularity continues to grow not only in Egypt, but also in England, where his record-breaking performances for Liverpool have made headlines in the widely followed Premier League.
And Mo Salah is making new fans in the United States.
During Liverpool’s pre-season tour in the USA, a #LargerThanLife mural of Salah was unveiled in New York City’s Times Square.
Salah also has many fans in Africa. Martins Abraham sent me a Facebook message from Koforidua, Ghana.
“Yes Sonny, Salah deserves the accolades,” writes Martins. “He’s done a great job for Liverpool and Egypt as a whole.”
Meanwhile, Egyptian football officials say they’re confident they can do a great job as Nations Cup host, even with only about five months to prepare.
African football’s premier tournament is scheduled from June 15th to July 13th, and it will be the first Nations Cup to feature 24 teams.