The playmaker, who played an influential role in the historic Premier League title triumph by English club, Leicester City, last season and Algeria’s qualification to the Total Africa Cup of Nations Gabon 2017, polled 361 votes to emerge winner in the polls.
He thus dethroned last year’s winner, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Gabon who garnered 313 votes, whilst Senegalese forward, Sadio Mane placed a distant third with 186 votes.
The winner was decided by votes from the Head Coaches or Technical Directors of the National Associations affiliated to CAF, members of the CAF Media Committee, members of the CAF Technical and Development Committee and a 20-member panel of experts.
For the African Player of the Year – Based in Africa, Onyango also wrote his name in African football folklore, by becoming the first goalkeeper to scoop the award designed to reward players who ply their trade on the continent.
The 31-year old, whose exploits in the posts was critical to Uganda’s qualification to the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time after a 39-year hiatus, and also starred in Mamelodi Sundowns’ conquest of Africa last year tallied 252 votes, 24 more than his club-mate, Khama Billiat of Zimbabwe. Zambian Rainford Kalaba finished third with 206 votes.
Nigeria forward Asisat Oshoala was named Women’s Player of the Year, ahead of Cameroonian Gabrielle Aboudi-Onguene and Ghana’s Elizabeth Addo. It was her second glory after 2014 in Lagos. It was double delight for her as the Super Falcons were adjudged Women’s National Team of the Year following their record extending eighth title at the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon in December 2016.
There was more to come for Nigeria with striking duo, Kelechi Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi picking up the Most Promising Talent and Youth Player of the Year awards respectively.
Two more awards came the way of Sundowns, in Club of the Year and Head Coach, Pitso Mosimane, going away with the Coach of the Year.
The Cranes historic qualification for the Total Africa Cup of Nations did not go unnoticed and were deservedly reward with the National Team of the Year gong.
Gambian Knight of the whistle, Bakary Papa Gassama also made his own piece of history after being decorated Referee of the Year for the third time in a row.
Following Guinea Bissau’s qualification to the Total Africa Cup of Nations Gabon 2017, their first for a major continental championship, Manuel Lopes Nascimento, President of Guinea Bissau Football Federation was named Football Leader of the Year.
Ivorian goal machine, Laurent Pokou, who passed away last November, was posthumously inducted as an “African Legend” together with Cameroonian Emilienne Mbango, one of the pioneers of women football on the continent. At a time when women’s football was non-existent, Mbango played with the legendary Roger Milla during his days with Leopards Douala in the seventies.
The well-attended ceremony, marking the Silver Jubilee of the inception of the CAF Awards was spiced by musical performances from renowned artistes such as Afro beat musician Femi Kuti, Flavour, Yemi Alade and Omawumi, all from Nigeria; South African group, Muffinz and Diamond Platinumz from Tanzania.
Below is the entire list of winners;
African Player of the Year
1. Riyad MAHREZ (Algeria & Leicester City) – 361 votes
2. Pierre-Emerick AUBAMEYANG (Gabon & Borussia Dortmund) – 313 votes
3. Sadio MANE (Senegal & Liverpool) – 186 votes
African Player of the Year – Based in Africa
1. Denis ONYANGO (Uganda & Mamelodi Sundowns) – 252 votes
2. Khama BILLIAT (Zimbabwe & Mamelodi Sundowns) – 228 votes
3. Rainford KALABA (Zambia & TP Mazembe) – 206 votes
Women’s player of the Year
Asisat OSHOALA (Nigeria & Arsenal Ladies)
Most Promising Talent
Kelechi IHEANACHO (Nigeria & Manchester City)
Youth Player of the Year
Alex IWOBI (Nigeria and Arsenal)
Coach of the Year
Pitso MOSIMANE (Mamelodi Sundowns)
Club of the Year
National Team of the Year
Women’s National Team of the Year
Referee of the Year
Bakary Papa GASSAMA (Gambia)
Football Leader of the Year
Manuel LOPES NASCIMENTO, President of Guinea Bissau Football Federation
Laurent POKOU – Former player of Cote d’Ivoire
Emilienne MBANGO – Former player of Cameroon
His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
Africa Finest XI
Goalkeeper: Denis ONYANGO (Uganda & Mamelodi Sundowns)
Defenders: Serge AURIER (Cote d’Ivoire & Paris Saint-Germain), Aymen ABDENNOUR (Tunisia & Valencia), Eric BAILLY (Cote d’Ivoire & Manchester United), Joyce LOMALISA (DR Congo & AS Vita)
Midfielders: Khama BILLIAT (Zimbabwe & Mamelodi Sundowns), Rainford KALABA (Zambia & TP Mazembe), Keegan DOLLY (South Africa & Mamelodi Sundowns),
Forwards: Pierre-Emerick AUBAMEYANG (Gabon & Borussia Dortmund), Sadio MANE (Senegal & Liverpool), Riyad MAHREZ (Algeria & Leicester City)
Aymen MATHLOUTHI (Tunisia & Etoile du Sahel), Kalidou KOULIBALY (Senegal & Napoli), Salif COULIBALY (Mali & TP Mazembe), Islam SLIMANI (Algeria & Leicester City), Mohamed Salah (Egypt & Roma), Kelechi IHEANACHO (Nigeria & Manchester City), Alex IWOBI (Nigeria and Arsenal)