Chelsea of England duo, Didier Drogba and Michael Essien, topped the list of the Glo/CAF African Footballer of the Year Awards unveiled yesterday by former Nigerian international, Victor Ikpeba, himself a one time African Footballer of the Year.
Others that made up the top five short-listed for the awards to be held February 25 in Dakar, Senegal, include Samuel Etoâ€™o of Cameroon, Seidu Keita of Mali and Cote d’ Ivoireâ€™s defensive midfielder, Yaya Toure. There was no Nigerian player in senior and junior categories of the awards and Ikpeba who had the unenviable task of reeling out the names explained much.
â€œOur players donâ€™t have the extra stuffÂ those other players have. Drogba, Essien and Etoâ€™o have remained consistent and it is no surprise,â€ Ikepba said at the Mike Adenuga Towers venue of the event. He was crowned African Footballer of the Year in 1997.
Interestingly, Drogba, Essien and Etoâ€™o also ranked in the same order in the BBC player of the year awards released in November. CAF media and communications manager, Suleiman Habouba, explained that the selection was made by the CAF media and technical committees, stressing that the winner will emerge after 53 coaches of the CAF member federations cast their votes for their choice of African Player of the Year.
Togolese striker, Emmanuel Adebayor, won the 2008 edition of the awards, while Malian Freddy Kanuote won in 2007. Drogba won the awards in 2006 and Etoâ€™o won back to back titles in 2005 and 2004 and 2003.
Speaking at the event Globacom executive director, human resources, Adewale Sangowawa, submitted that the awards have acquired an international reputation and players of the continent now reckon with it.