Super Eagles Victor Moses
* Blasts Eagles for bonus row
By Olawale Ajimotokan
Former Super Eagles striker Victor Ikpeba has predicted that the Africa Footballer of the Year honour will return to Nigeria this year.
The crown has eluded Nigeria since Nwankwo Kanu, became the last member of the 'golden generation' to clinch the annual award presented by Globacom.
Ikpeba, who won the award in 1997, Tuesday tipped John Mikel Obi, Victor Moses, Emmanuel Emeneke and Sunday Mba as contenders for the award.
The Confederations of Africa Football (CAF) will draw a shortlist of players for the award between September and October, before the winner is named by the end of the year.
Cote d’Ivoire international Yahaya Toure, who plays for Manchester City, won the last two editions of the award.
A surfeit of players, mostly from French West Africa, have monopolised the award, starting in 2001 with Cameroon's Samuel Eto'o.
But Ikpeba, who won while playing for Monaco, predicted that the anxious wait of Nigerians to reclaim the honour would definitely come to and this year.
''I think Nigeria stand a chance this year and I feel that four players, Victor (Moses), Mikel (Obi), Emmanuel (Emenike) and (Sunday) Mba are good bets for the African Player of the Year Award,'' Ikpeba said.
The four players, in addition to goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, were sterling as the Super Eagles romped to their third Africa Cup of Nations title in South Africa in February.
Chelsea's Europa Cup victory will also enhance the chances of Mikel and Moses as contenders when the votes are polled by members of CAF technical and media committees.
Ikpeba, who spoke at the launch of Segun Odegbami's autobiography- Me, Football and More, also did not hesitate to slam the Eagles for the bonus row that erupted in Windhoek in June, after a World Cup qualifier against Namibia.
The dispute resulted in the players being stranded in Windhoek for three days after they missed a regular flight that was billed take them to Brazil for the FIFA Confederations Cup.
Ikpeba, who described the episode as regrettable, said the players were wrong to have held the nation to ransom by putting money before loyalty to country.
According to him, he was now in support of the deliberate move by authorities to introduce a code of conduct for the national team to limit the excesses of players and define how the federation will handle them while on national engagement.
''What happened in Namibia was regrettable and I think Nigeria has gone past the stage where players can hold the nation ransom. I support the code of conduct though during our time it was not in vogue''.
Ikpeba said the players should have displayed maturity by accepting the $5000 bonus offered by the Nigerian federation, which aside from the Eagles, also caters for the female and age grade teams.