Confederation of African Football (CAF) has shortlisted 37 players for the continent’s most prestigious African Player of the Year award.

The lengthy list which featured Ivorien skipper and Manchester City talisman, Yaya Toure as well as Nigeria’s duo of Ahmed Musa and Vincent Enyeama is expected to produce the eventual winner on December 22, 2015 in a grand ceremony hosted by globacom telecom giant.

Should Toure, who has won the last four CAF Player of the Year awards, wins the prize in December for the fifth time, he would have beaten Cameroonian striker,  Samuel Eto’o, who has also won it four times.

Toure face Competition:

There are strong arguments that the Ivorien super star may not clinch the title this term due to dwindled performances so far. Although Toure won the Africa Cup of Nations with Ivory Coast this year he has been short of his best form for both club and country and many analysts think it will be a travesty if he wins the individual prize, having been short of his best form at club level.

According to bookmarkers, there would be stiff competition for the award this year with the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Gabon, who finished second last year, after scoring 25 goals for Borussia Dortmund last season a hot favourite.

Aubameyang has already notched  14 goals in all competitions so far this term, looked likely to outscore his last year’s tally.

Another outstanding candidate being  touted to snatch the golden diadem from Toure is Ghanian international and Swansea FC Striker, Andre Ayew.  Ayew helped Ghana reach the 2015 African Cup of Nations’ final in Equatorial Guinea; and unlike Toure was in good form along the way. His strong performances so far for the Welsh club, since summer switch to the more visually prominent English Premier League has increased his chances of clinching the award. All he needs is to score more goals.

Former Chelsea winger Salah who  enjoyed an excellent second half of 2014-15 with Fiorentina before signing for Roma in the close-season is also considered a potential winner of the crown.

African Player Awards:
The African Footballer of the Year award has been presented to the best African footballer each year by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) since 1992. An earlier African Footballer of the Year Golden Ball award was given out between 1970 and 1994 by France Football magazine.

There is a rival award run by the BBC and the table below compares the CAF award with the BBC winners since the turn of the century. The BBC award was launched as the BBC African Sports Star of the Year award in 1992, when Ghanaian footballer Abedi Pele was the inaugural winner. It was in 2000 that  the prize was transformed into its current format.

With the BBC award after a poll of football journalists from every country in Africa, a shortlist of five players is announced – whereupon the public determines its best for a calendar year.

CAF go the same route as FIFA. The winner is decided by votes from the Head Coaches/Technical Directors of the National Associations affiliated to CAF.

Just as with the World Player of the Year award it means there is a total lack of imagination shown by the collegiate.

Take 2013 when Toure won his third straight title. Toure also won December’s BBC African Footballer of the Year award  so  some would say it was thoroughly merited given the purple patch he was in form wise with Manchester City. That said he failed to impress at the African Cup of Nations won by Nigeria, just like fellow nominee Didier Drogba who was now with Galatasaray. The other player on the shortlist was Nigeria and Chelsea midfielder John Mikel Obi who had been instrumental in the Super Eagles afcon triumph as well as featuring in Chelsea’s Europa League triumph. Nigerian fans called foul long into the night.

Now look at the BBC list. You can always place together both form and achievement. 2000, Mboma at the Olympics and an afcon triumph. Take 2002 and an afcon and World Cup quarter-final for Diouf.

CAF Player of the Year 2015 shortlist in full:
Ahmed Musa, Andre Ayew, Aymen Abdennour, Baghdad Bounedjah, Basem Morsi, Christian Atsu, Dieumerci Mbokani, El Arbi Hillel Soudani, Faouzi Ghoulam, Ferebory Dore, Gervinho, Ibrahima Traore, Javier Balboa, Heldon Ramos, Mame Diouf, Max Gradel, Mehdi Benatia, Modather Al Tayeb, Mohamed Salah, Nicolas Nkoulou, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Robert Kidiaba, Rudy Gestede, Riyad Mahrez, Sadio Mane, Serge Aurier, Seydou Keita, Sofiane Feghouli, Stephane Mbia, Thievy Bifouma, Victor Wanyama, Vincent Aboubakar, Vincent Enyeama, Yacine Brahimi, Yannick Bolasie, Yasine Chikhaoui and Yaya Touresu.

By Olisemeka Obeche


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