November African Player of the Month: Mohamed Salah
WINDHOEK, DEC. 3 – Our pick for the November 2018 Player of the Month is Liverpool and Egypt star Mohamed Salah, who has shrugged off his sluggish start to the season and is back to the peak of his game.
At the time of writing, Salah had just helped Liverpool secure a 3-0 away win over Watford which kept them in touch with Premier League pacesetters Manchester City. The 26-year-old opened the scoring at Vicarage Road to pave the way for an emphatic Reds victory, which also featured goals from Trent Alexander-Arnold and Roberto Firmino.
The Egyptian came in for some criticism for a solid but unspectacular start to the 2018/19 season, but things have been looking up for him in a big way since the middle of October. In that time he has scored eight goals and provided two assists for club and country, become the fastest-ever player to reach the 50-goal mark for Liverpool and been shortlisted for the prestigious BBC African Footballer of the Year award (which he is widely expected to win for a second successive time).
Salah’s combination of strong performances and his humble, down-to-earth demeanour have earned him praise from his fellow professionals. Brighton & Hove Albion’s Cameroonian defender Gaetan Bong believes even if Salah is not scoring, his attacking contribution is always a positive one.
“He has everything, he’s top scorer,” Bong told BBC Sports. “He is a good player and good on the ball, strong and always working hard. You cannot maybe see it sometimes but when you are on the pitch, he is making a lot of runs, a lot of strong runs.”
Veteran Ivorian attacker Gervinho (who was a candidate for this Player of the Month after becoming the top-scoring African in the Serie A this season) was a teammate of Salah’s at Italian giants Roma and believes the hard work the Egyptian puts in at the gym underscores his on-pitch brilliance.
“Salah is a tough guy,” the Parma attacker told the Guardian. “Always calm and strong, with the mentality of a hard worker.
“I’ll never forget his training sessions: very high rhythm, pushed like a madman, you watched him in amazement. He had a sort of positive effect – you saw Salah and wanted to work harder. Talent and sacrifice.”
Gervinho, as mentioned above, has performed admirably through the last month with his Serie A side and deserves an honourable mention. As does October’s Player of the Month, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, whose goal to help Arsenal beat Bournemouth this past weekend brought him level with Man City’s Sergio Aguero at the top of the Premier League scoring chart, while Riyad Mahrez (Man City), Sadio Mane (Liverpool), Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli) and Thomas Partey (Atletico Madrid) have also impressed. – Contributed