The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has confirmed the final 10 nominees for the 2019 African Player of the Year award. Initially, CAF had released a list of 30 players. But the Nigerian duo of Wilfred Ndidi and Victor Osimhen have been dropped.
Two-time reigning champion Mohamed Salah has once again been nominated, alongside his Liverpool teammate Sadio Mane.
Former Nigerian international, Odion Ighalo who emerged as the top scorer during the 2019 cup of nations is the only Nigerian to have made the top ten.
The last 10 standing African best players are Andre Onana, Hakim Ziyech, Ismail Bennacer, Kalidou Koulibaly, Mohamed Salah, Odion Ighalo, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Riyad Mahrez ,Sadio Mane and Youcef Belaili
‘there is no fear in my heart’, Anthony Joshua warns Andy Ruiz Jr
Anthony Joshua has admitted “it feels different” since losing but sent a powerful message to Andy Ruiz Jr with an intense first face off of the week.
The world heavyweight championship rivals were able to ramp up the mind games at Wednesday’s press conference before their rematch on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Box Office, with ring walks from 8.30pm. “I didn’t lose heart or fire in my belly,” Joshua said about losing to Ruiz Jr earlier this year. “There is no fear in my heart, my eyes or my mind.
“I didn’t lose any commitment.
“There was a big change and a big shift in the division so it definitely feels different. I turn this stuff into a positive otherwise it will eat you up, and will fold into a way that I don’t want it to go.
“I had to own the situation and make it work for me.”
Ruiz Jr entered his first meeting with Joshua of the week wearing a New York Knicks jersey, the same attire he wore the night of his famous victory in their first fight six months ago.
In the pre-fight press conference when they first met, Joshua was jovial and allowed his then-challenger to hold the championship belts. Days later, Ruiz Jr took them permanently.
This time Joshua was far more intense and said: “You always need a challenger’s mind-set. I said that with the belts around my waist.
“Hungry, determined, focused on the goal.
“Will it be a special moment [if he wins]? No because I know I belong there. When I regain the belts I will keep cool, and keep a challenger’s mind-set and move onto the next target.”
IBF, WBA and WBO champion Ruiz Jr replied: “AJ will come with a different game-plan and I know he is prepared, so I will be more cautious. He lost weight and will try to box me around.
“I don’t want to let these beautiful belts go. Now that I finally made my dreams come true, there is no way I will let them go.”
Joshua upgraded his preparations with a raft of better sparring partners tailored to mimic Ruiz Jr, plus the addition of Angel Fernandez and Joby Clayton to the training team led by Rob McCracken.
He explained: “If Angel or Joby are on the pads, for instance, it gives Rob the chance to say: ‘your back foot needs to be in this position’ or ‘your right hand is too low’.
“We’re not going for good, we’re going for great, and then perfection. The stakes are getting higher and there is so much information out there now. Football and rugby teams are improving so we need to level up – it’s not just about brute strength and heart.
“It helps having a full camp and we invested heavily in sparring.”