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Stars shortlisted: National team among six countries nominated for the Caf men’s team of the year

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Harambee Stars resurgence in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers earned recognition as the country was nominated among six teams for the Confederation of African Football (CAF) men’s national team of the year. Stars, who are on the brink of sealing a place in the 2019 finals, will muscle for the title alongside neighbours Uganda, Guinea Bissau, Madagascar, Mauritania and Zimbabwe.

The six teams have had a stellar performance in the ongoing 2019 African Cup of Nations qualifiers, where Uganda, Mauritania and Madagascar, have already qualified while the rest top their respective groups.

Stars began their qualifying campaign on the wrong footing, going down 2-1 to Sierra Leone but have since recovered to top Group ‘F’ with seven points, thanks to home wins against Ghana and Ethiopia and an away draw in Addis Ababa. Kenyans are likely to confirm their return to Afcon should the ban on Sierra Leone remain.

Uganda, who won the award in 2016, were nominated after qualifying with a match to spare while Madagascar and Mauritania who are favoured to win the accolade were picked after qualifying to the finals for the first time. Guinea Bissau top Group ‘K’ with eight points while Zimbabwe are Group ‘G’ leaders with eight points.

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In other categories, rivalry will be rife in men’s Player of the Year as the Arsenal duo of Alex Iwobi(Nigeria) and Pierre Aubameyang (Gabon) face off with Idrissa Gueye (Senegal/Everton), Mehdi Benatia (Morocco/Juventus), Percy Tau (South Africa & Union Saint-Gilloise), Riyad Mahrez (Algeria/Man City), Sadio Mane (Senegal/ Liverpool), Wilfried Zaha (Cote d’Ivoire/Crystal Palace) Thomas Partey (Ghana/Atletico). Wahbi Khazri (Tunisia/Saint-Étienne), Dennis Onyango (Uganda/Mamelodi Sundowns), Odion Ighalo (Nigeria/Changchun Yatai, Nigeria) among others.

In the coach of the year award, two-time Afcon winning coach Herve Renard tops the list and will compete with decorated DR Congo coach Florent Ibenge, Nicolas Dupuis of Madagascar, Aliou Cisse who led Senegal to second runners up group stages finish in the World Cup, Corentin Martins of Mauritania, Patrice Carteron of Al Ahly and Moine Chaabani of Esperance. The final awards gala will be held on January8 in Dakar, Senegal.

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