The Confederation of African Football has announced its list of ten nominees for the African Player of the Year award ahead of awarding the title on the 20th of January in Ghana.
Since its inception in 1993, the award has never been awarded to a player who plies his trade in Africa, and this looks to be the case again with all ten nominees currently playing outside of Africa. After collecting the award in 2011, Yaya Touré has once again been nominated but faces some tough competition. The nominees are:
- Alexander Song, Barcelona (Cameroon)
- Andre Ayew, Marseille (Ghana)
- Christopher Katongo, Henan Construction (Zambia)
- Demba Ba, Newcastle United (Senegal)
- Didier Drogba, Shanghai Shenhua (Cote d’Ivoire)
- Gervinho, Arsenal (Cote d’Ivoire)
- John Obi Mikel, Chelsea (Nigeria)
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Saint Etienne (Gabon)
- Yaya Toure, Manchester City (Cote d’Ivoire)
- Younes Belhanda, Montpellier (Morocco)
After leading Chelsea to the Champions League title in 2012 Didier Drogba has been tipped as favorite to collect the award—albeit for the third time. English Premier League counterparts Demba Ba and Yaya Toure also submit compelling cases respectively. Ba netted 16 times for Newcastle last season proving instrumental in the Magpies return to Europe. Manchester City captain Yaya Toure led the Citizens to the Premier League title for the first time since 1968 and although it seems unlikely that he will win the award back to back, his achievements must not be overlooked.
In France, Ghanaian Andre Ayew found the back of the net on 16 separate occasions for Marseille, turning provider on four others. Ayew finished third in the 2011 edition of the awards and could catch EPL pundits by surprise. Not to be outdone though, Moroccan Younes Belhanda boasts and equally impressive record, and although he finished three goals behind Ayew in the race for the French Golden Boot he outclassed him in the assists department.
Notable exclusions from the list include four-time winner Samuel Eto'o and last year's runner up Seydou Keita both of who no longer apply their trade in Europe's elite leagues.
In addition to the award for the African Footballer of the Year, the CAF will also announce the best African Footballer based in Africa. Five players have been submitted for the domestic award:
- Mohamed Aboutrika, Al-Ahly (Egypt)
- Rainford Kalaba, TP Mazembe (Zambia)
- Stoppila Sunzu, TP Mazembe (Zambia)
- Yannick N’Djeng, Esperance Sportive de Tunis (Cameroon)
- Youssef Msakni, Esperance Sportive de Tunis (Tunisia)
Nominees are compiled by the CAF's football committees and will be narrowed down to to a final short list of five players (African Footballer of the Year List) in November—which will be voted on by coaches and technical directors alike.