African trio share EPL Golden Boot cake

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Tadious Manyepo

 

HARARE - This one was specifically made for Africans ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations to be held in Egypt in five weeks’ time.

That the pair of Liverpool team mates Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah are the poster boys for their respective countries, Senegal and Egypt, even flavours the whole issue.

Gabon international Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will not be part of the story in Egypt after his team failed to secure the ticket to the biannual fiesta but the Arsenal ace is undeniably one of the most prolific goal scorers to emerge from this continent.

The trio, who all topped the goal scorers’ chart in the just ended 2018-19 English Premiership season on 22 goals wrote perhaps the most intriguing script by African footballers since George Wear won the World Footballer of the Year and the Ballon d'Or in 1995.

It’s probably the greatest story to be penned by Africans in this century since Senegal and Ghana bowed out of the FIFA World Cup in the quarter finals in 2002 and 2010 respectively.

Maybe the greatest feel-good to be African chapter since Ivorian Didier Drogba stabbed the winning penalty to power Chelsea to their maiden UEFA Champions league triumph against Bayern Munich in 2012.

The sight of Aubameyang receiving the Golden Boot Award at the Emirates as well as the duo of Mane and Salah receiving the same on Sunday last week just evoked incredible feelings in the inhabitants of the mass of land between Cairo and Cape Town.

Yet it looked like Salah alone was set to retain the accolade he also won last season, having already scored 22 times, twice more than Mane and Auba before the final round of fixtures.

But, somehow, it had to be all of them, the African trio who did well for their respective teams throughout the season as both Mane and Aubameyang found a way to grab identical braces for their teams whilst Salah couldn’t add on to his own tally.

Though both Mane and Salah couldn't ultimately help the Reds to the EPL title, the team did well only to surrender the fight to Manchester City on the very last day of action.

Aubameyang, on the other hand, was one of the best players at Arsenal in only his second season in London.

That Liverpool have the chance to win the UEFA Champions League when they face Tottenham on June 1 in Madrid, Spain, while Aubameyang also has the opportunity to end the campaign with European honours when his side face Chelsea in the UEFA Europa League final on May 29 in Baku put into perspective how magnificent the trio’s season has been.

This is the first time in the history of the English Premiership to produce a tie of three African players for the top scorers’ award.

The last time the Golden Boot Award was shared in the EPL was in 2010-11 season when the Manchester United pair of Dimitar Berbatov and Carlos Tevez found the target 20 times each.

The same gong was won by three players at once just twice since the inception of the English top-flight in 1992 before the African trio made it for the third time.

Former Leeds United star foward Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink along with Dwight Yorke and Michael Owen of Liverpool shared the accolade in the 1998-99 each scoring 18 goals, a season after the latter as well as Dion Dublin (Coventry City) and Chris Sutton (Blackburn Rovers) had become the first set of three players to jointly win the award having scored 18 times each.

Salah has now joined Drogba who won the same accolade in the 2006-07 as well in the 2009-10 seasons having scored 20 and 29 goals in those respective seasons.

In winning the top accolades, the African trio edged Argentinian and Manchester City great Sergio Aguero who scored a goal less than them while Aguero’s team mate Raheem Sterling scored 17 goals with Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy hitting the target on 18 occasions.

The highest goal scoring margin to be achieved in the EPL remains at 34 scored by two different players in different seasons.

Andy Cole attained the margin in the 1993-94 term, his goals helping Newcastle to a third place finish while Allan Shearer reached the milestone when he helped Blackburn Rovers to win the EPL a season later.

However, the highest scorer ever in the history of the English top-tier game remains the late Everton legend Dixie Dean who scored 60 goals in the 1927-28 season. 

 

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