THE AFRICANS HAVE LANDED: THE ANFIELD MARVEL
On The Ball with Chioma Uzoigwe
Mohammed Salah and Sadio Mane of Egypt and Senegal respectively, have been exceptionally brilliant on the field of play to uplift the fortunes of Liverpool and in qualifying their respective countries for the world cup. The Egyptian has turned out to be one of the Premier League’s best signing last summer after joining the Anfield side in a £39 milllion deal. Mane in turn has proved to be quite a success since his arrival in Anfield in 2016 in another 34million pounds deal.
Their contributions in qualifying Liverpool for the semi-finals of the Champions League and securing a likely top-four finish in the English Premier League (EPL), have since brought excitement and thrill amongst the fans at Anfield. Salah is having a fantastic season. He has scored a total of forty-two in his debut season for Liverpool and is in the form of his life to contend for golden boot of the season having just won the Professional Footballers’ Association Players’ (PFA) player of the year. According to him, “I didn’t get the chance at Chelsea so I was clear in my mind that I would return. I think I left and came back a different person, man, and player”. His brilliance in scoring goals; his assists in every game and his work-rate means that the Seria A club – Roma that sold him to Liverpool in £39 million deal would be counting their losses especially after demolishing them in the first-leg of the semi-finals of the Champions league at Anfield only a few days ago. He has scored more than 31 goals already to surpass the joint record of Alan Shearer, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez in a 38 game season and would likely also surpass that with a few more games to go this season. What’s so great about Salah is his modesty, his focus on the game and is arguably the greatest debut season in the history of the Premier League.
Mane arrived in Anfield in the summer of 2016 at the hinds of two previous successful seasons with Southampton. It was a magnificent debut season for him as he was recognized as Liverpool’s star performer for 2016-17 by both fans and teammates at the club’s 2017 Players’ Awards ceremony at Anfield. The Senegal international scored 13 Premier League goals in 29 appearances, injecting extra pace and creativity to Jürgen Klopp’s side before injury brought his year to a premature close in April, 2017. He secured the accolade of Players’ Player of the Season – as chosen by the rest of the Liverpool first team. His progress has showed no signs of stopping even in the current season on return from injury. He has netted 10 goals this season in the premier League and another 8 in Champion’s league with a stellar performance against FC Porto securing his first hat-trick. A sum of the total number of goals he has scored so far, overtook Demba Ba’s record of 43 goals to become the highest scoring Senegalese in the premiership.
The Liverpool duo of Mane and Salah have made a remarkable difference and have contributed immensely in lifting the club to an enviable height this season being the only English club still left in the prestigious Champions League competition. They have proven that African players can rub shoulders with the best in the world.
We are expectant that at the Mundial in June, they can translate this glory in making their respective countries and indeed Africa proud.