Senegal forward Mane was crowned Caf’s best player of 2019 ahead of second-placed Mohamed Salah and Mahrez.
Mahrez missed out on this gong after helping Manchester City to the Premier League title, FA Cup and the Carabao Cup last year, while Mane was instrumental in helping Liverpool win the Uefa Champions League as he also finished as the Premier League joint top goal-scorer.
But with Algeria winning the 2019 Afcon title, Belmadi insists that feat should have warranted tournament-winning captain Mahrez the crown.
He feels that Mahrez carried Algeria to the Afcon winners’ podium, thereby making him the deserved winner of the African Footballer of the Year award.
“He (Mahrez) takes his responsibilities and participates greatly in the crowning of Algeria in Egypt. He is the one who makes his team win Afcon as captain of the African champions. It is him who was the heaviest, so in my opinion, he deserved to be honoured,” Belmadi was quoted as saying by Le Buteur as per Canal Plus Afrique.
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“If we want to give legitimacy to Afcon, we must recognise the merit of Mahrez. In a year of Afcon, I think that having won it should have an essential weight in the result of this award, from the moment that it is one of the three nominees who are at roughly in the same category.
“I think then that at some point it should make the difference and weigh in favour of the one who won Afcon of course if we want to give some legitimacy to this African Cup of Nations.”
Mahrez is a past winner of this award after he was named Caf’s best player of 2016.