Yunis Abdelhamid, Achraf Hakimi, and Hakim Ziyech have earned praise from international football experts for their impressive performances throughout 2019.
Rabat – French magazine France Football has announced its shortlist for the 2019 Best Maghreb Player of the year award. Moroccan football players Yunis Abdelhamid, Achraf Hakimi, and Hakim Ziyech all earned spots on the list of the ten best players from Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia.
France Football is one of the most reputable sports publications in Europe. It is best known for its yearly Ballon d’Or award, considered to be the most important individual award in international football.
The magazine published the Best Maghreb Player award shortlist over two days. The first five names were announced on Saturday, December 28. The list included Abdelhamid and Hakimi from Morocco, along with Ismael Bennacer, Ramy Bensebaini, and Riyad Mahrez from Algeria.
The second half of the shortlist, posted on Sunday, December 29, included Morocco’s Ziyech, along with Youcef Atal, Youcef Belaili, and Baghdad Bounedjah from Algeria, and Anice Badri from Tunisia.
The three Moroccan players have all had impressive results in 2019. France Football matched every nomination with a short introductory text.
“Yunis Abdelhamid is without question one of the three best center-backs of [the French league]. Better yet, since the return of Stade de Reims (Abdelhamid’s team) to the [French first division], the Moroccan has played 55 of the 56 matches [played by his club],” says the magazine’s website.
Abdelhamid, 32, was among the First XI in the first leg of the French league.
“With Morocco, he was barred at the CAN by the presence of Benatia, Saiss, and Da Costa, but since the arrival of Vahid Halilhodzic, he settled as a [starting player] and already brings insurance to the Atlas Lions’ [defense],” continues the text.
Hakimi, playing for German club Borussia Dortmund, also earned praise from the magazine’s editorial team.
“Achraf Hakimi, 21 years old, is one of the biggest prospects in the world of football. The Moroccan is exploiting his time on loan for two seasons to Germany to its fullest. Named best young African player in 2018, he has the incredible faculty of excelling in several positions (right-back, left-back, or winger),” says the publication.
The magazine goes on to applaud Hakimi’s performance both with his club and with Morocco’s national team, recalling his goals and assists. It also mentions Real Madrid’s hope to bring Hakimi back in 2021.
This is not Hakimi’s first nomination for an international individual award. On Sunday, December 29, Hakimi won the Young Arab Player of the Year award, presented by Globe Soccer. He is also on CAF’s shortlist for Young African Player of the Year, an award that he previously won in 2018.
Finally, the Moroccan “artist” playing for the Netherlands’ Ajax Amsterdam, Ziyech, has also earned praise from the French magazine.
“Make way for the artist… With Ajax Amsterdam, Hakim Ziyech blew up all counters during the year 2019. The Moroccan was dominant in his club’s Champions League journey, punctuated by a semi-final. Since the start of the season… Ziyech scored seven goals and delivered 19 assists in 23 games,” starts the text.
The magazine, however, mentions his failure with the Atlas Lions in the 2019 CAN, using it to explain why he did not figure on the shortlist for the Ballon d’Or award.
“The only downside and it is a big one: like Nicolas Pepe or to a lesser degree Mohamed Salah, [Ziyech] passed completely by his CAN, with, in particular, a missed penalty at the end of the match against Benin. A failure that cost the elimination of Morocco from the round of 16. For Ziyech as well, it probably deprived him of a place in the 30 nominated for the Ballon d’Or,” concludes the publication.
This year, Ziyech is also on CAF’s shortlist for the African Player of the Year award.
The public vote for the award is open on France Football’s website until Sunday, January 5. The magazine will then announce the results based on both the public vote and another vote by sports journalists from around the world.