Raïs M'Bolhi has been named to the 25-player shortlist for the African Player of the Year award. The award is administered by the Confederation of African Football (CAF), and has been given out annually since 1992.
The favorites for the award are likely Yaya Toure, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyeng, and Wilfried Bony, all of whom play in Europe. No player from outside of Europe has ever won the award, but one did manage to crack the top three.
Four Algerians--M'Bolhi, Yacine Brahimi, Sofiane Feghouli, and Islam Slimani--have been nominated this year, but no Algerian has ever made the top three. Unlike M'Bolhi, his three compatriots all play their ball on the Iberian Peninsula.
Raïs M'Bolhi's inclusion stands out for one large reason: He plays in America. M'Bolhi is the only player on the shortlist currently with a club on this side of the Atlantic. It's not even like CSKA Sofia, the club he played with prior to joining the Union, was a large club. And, hell, if M'Bolhi is on this shortlist, then Obafemi Martins should be on it too. However, M'Bolhi is held in high regard by the people of Algeria because of his service to the national team. While there are certainly more deserving candidates from a club level, M'Bolhi's international success seems to have pushed him into the conversation of Africa's elite.
It's a great honor for M'Bolhi to even be mentioned among these other 24 players, which is something to consider when M'Bolhi doesn't win this award. He won't win this award.