Rabat – Moroccan international football players Hakim Ziyech and Achraf Hakimi are both on the shortlist of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Awards 2019. Ziyech is nominated for the African Player of the Year award, while Hakimi is defending his title as Best African Youth Player.
CAF posted the shortlists on their website after the confederation’s technical and development committee had completed the voting phase on Wednesday, December 4.
In the 2018-2019 season, Ziyech scored 21 goals and made 18 assists over 48 games with Ajax. He also led his team to the Champions League semi-final after eliminating some of Europe’s biggest clubs, including Real Madrid and Juventus.
Ziyech is giving impressive performances in the current season as well. The African player of the year nominee has already scored 8 goals and gave 11 assists in only 25 games.
With the Atlas Lions, however, Ziyech’s performance has been less than remarkable.
In the recent African Cup of Nations (CAN 2019), Moroccan fans were counting on the 26-year-old player to lead the national squad to glory. However, not only was Ziyech in a subpar form, but he also missed a penalty in the last minute of the round-of-16 game against Benin, leading to the Atlas Lions’ elimination.
It remains to be seen if Ziyech’s performance with his club will be enough to compensate for his failure with the national team and earn him the title of best African player.
The 21-year-old player is one of the best defenders and wingers in the German league. On top of his versatility as a player— he can play both attacking and defending roles on both sides— Hakimi is able to keep performing at the same level throughout entire fast-paced games.
Hakimi is one of the top scorers of the ongoing Champions League, scoring four goals in only five games. He also scored one goal in the most recent Atlas Lions match. The game against Burundi for the CAN 2021 qualifiers ended with a 3-0 score.
While Hakimi is a strong candidate for the Best Youth Player Award, Ziyech is facing strong competition for the Best African Player Award. The list includes Ismail Bennacer, Riyad Mahrez, and Youcef Belaili who won the 2019 CAN with Algeria, as well as Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane who won the European Champions League last season with Liverpool.
In 2018, Egypt’s Mohamed Salah won the African Player of the Year Award, while Achraf Hakimi won the title of Youth Player of the Year.
Herve Renard, Atlas Lions’ coach at the time, and Fouzi Lekjaa, President of Morocco’s Royal Football Federation (FRMF) also won awards last year. Renard received the Men’s Coach of the Year, while Lekjaa earned the title of Federation President of the Year.