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Salah wins BBC African Footballer of Year

Football
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44-year-old Essam El-Hadary deserves respect, but I'm Africa's best keeper - Denis Onyango

Legendary Egypt goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary is one of Africa's all-time greats, but Uganda's Denis Onyango believes that no one can match his recent form.

At 44, the Pharaohs legend is still going strong, and is part of Hector Cuper's squad to face the Cranes in Thursday's World Cup qualifier.

The goalkeeper, once identified by Didier Drogba as his toughest-ever opponent, started the Africa Cup of Nations final as Egypt were defeated, and would take Faryd Mondragon's record as the oldest player to feature in a World Cup should the North Africans qualify for Russia 2018.

"He has achieved a lot and he is still active at 44 years," Onyango said of his rival. "To still be playing top level football at 44, and to represent a big country like Egypt at this stage, is something special.

"He inspires me to play on longer, to keep my body in shape."

El-Hadary may have missed out on another continental title in Gabon earlier this year, but he remains one of Africa's most decorated players, having won four AFCONs, eight Egyptian titles and the CAF Champions League on four occasions amidst a swathe of other honours.

However, Onyango - the reigning Africa-based African Player of the Year and a CAF Champions League winner - doesn't believe that El-Hadary or any of the continent's stoppers can match him for form over the last 18 months.

"I have been in the form of my life since last season helping my team Mamelodi Sundowns and the Uganda Cranes to some good results," Onyango continued.

"However, I will continue working hard so that I can get a step higher of El Hadary in-terms of playing longer," the stopper concluded, "and even go and play professional football in Europe or Asia."

The two goalkeepers are expected to be on opposite sides when Uganda host Egypt in Thursday's showdown at the Mandela National Stadium, Namboole.

The Pharaohs currently top Group E with six points after picking up a 2-1 win over Congo-Brazzaville and a 2-0 victory over Ghana. Uganda are second with four points after downing Congo 1-0 and holding Ghana to a goalless draw.

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