Mane will become the king of Africa when problems rumble
Liverpool sniper Sadio Mane, Johannesburg, January 1 (AFP) is expected to become the first African football holder in 2020 by winning the Player of the Year award in Egypt next week.
The January 7 ceremony will begin a year that will surely be full of drama on and off the field with the qualifiers of the 2022 World Cup and the 2021 Nations Cup in the mix.
AFP Sport analyzes some of the problems facing the most popular sport in a continent where good footballers and bad managers often share the media scenario.
The constant scorer of Liverpool and the talisman of Senegal, Mane, is the favorite to become the second star of his country after El Hadji Diouf is named Player of the Year.
His rivals are Liverpool teammate Mohamed Salah, the Egyptian who won the last two editions, and Algerian Riyad Mahrez of Manchester City.
The Player of the Year, and the winners of seven other male and female categories, will be announced at a ceremony at the Egyptian Red Sea complex in Hurghada.
A couple of weeks after the awards banquet, Egypt will host another eagerly anticipated event, the draw in Cairo for the group stage of World cup qualifying.
The latest FIFA rankings are expected to determine the seeds, which means that Senegal, Tunisia, Nigeria, Algeria, Morocco, Ghana, Egypt, Cameroon, Mali and the Democratic Republic of the Congo will be in the first pot.
All those nations, except Mali, have played in the World Cup, and an Ivory Coast team that can resort to Wilfried Zaha's dazzling footwork could be the second most dangerous seed.
Cup of Nations
The problem is coming after a change of a tournament from January/February to June/July this year to avoid jerks of wars between clubs and countries for the services of stars based in Europe.
The first revamped Club World Cup, featuring 24 teams, is set for June 17 to July 4 2021 in China, effectively ruling out a mid-year Cup of Nations in Cameroon.
Senior cost and freight officials say they are likely to return to the dates of January/February, and with the possibility that an increasing number of players put the clubs first.
According to reports, Tunisia decided, due to the congestion of the matches, to withdraw from the 2020 edition in Cameroon of the tournament for players who play in their country of birth.
Traditionally a biennial competition of January/February, it is scheduled from April 4 to 25 of this year in three cities in southern Cameroon, the capital, Yaounde, Douala and Limbe.
The 16-nation championship will test the readiness of Cameroon to stage the Cup of Nations next year after construction delays led to them being replaced by Egypt as 2019 hosts.
The Tunisian club Esperance has been erratic in seeking a third consecutive unprecedented title, fighting to beat a Chadian club and then challenging the odds of defeating Raja in Casablanca.
They have lost several winning stars of the title in 2019, including Algeria's end Youcef Belaili, and the initial line-up for a group match last weekend included only four Tunisians.
The eight-time champions, Al Ahly of Egypt, TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa and the clubs of Casablanca Raja and Wydad are potential threats.
This year a new name will be recorded in the trophy, as recent winners Ahly, Etoile Sahel from Tunisia, Mazembe, Raja and Zamalek from Egypt compete in the Champions League.
Judging by the formation of the group up to half, the pyramids of Cairo could become the third Egyptian winners of a competition inspired by the UEFA Europa League.
Emirati Salem al Shamsi has invested millions in a squad dominated by Egyptians but also contains stars from Burkina Faso, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Tunisia and Uganda.
Zamalek threatens to boycott the February 14 game against Esperance scheduled for Qatar, a country that Egypt accuses of destabilizing the Middle East region.
The controversial president of the club, Mortada Mansour, says that Zamalek will change his position only if the government orders it.
I do not understand why cost and freight want to organize the party in an enemy country of Egypt. We are African clubs, why should we play in Asia? Mansour asked during a press conference.
cost and freight
The six-month secondment of FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura to crisis-plagued cost and freight ends on January 31 and there will be huge interest in what progress the Senegalese has made.
His report was to introduce reforms, especially in governance, competitions and arbitration, to an organization of the World Soccer magazine labeled as the biggest football basket case.
Assisting Samoura is cost and freight president Ahmad Ahmad, who has not commented on various allegations against him, including corruption, financial misappropriation and sexual harassment.
There have been no broadcasts in sub-Saharan Africa of cost and freight national team and club fixtures since November after a 12-year TV deal with a French company was scrapped.
Lagardere Sports paid one million dollars (890,000 euros) in 2017 for the TV and marketing rights, but separate judgments ruled the deal illegal because there was no tender process. Desperate football fans have resorted to streaming, but installation options are limited and the high cost of Internet data is an additional obstacle. (AFP) PM PM