Yaya Toure (M) receiving the award from CAF President Issah Hayatou (L)
By Kunle Adewale
Manchester City and Cote d’Ivoire defensive midfielder, Yaya Toure, Thursday night retained his African Footballer of the Year award, leaving his compatriot, Didier Drogba who was the favourite for the title to settle for the second position. Cameroonian Alex Song placed third.
The decision of the 52 coaches from the African continent that picked the winner took most football followers by surprise following Drogba’s contribution to Chelsea winning the UEFA Champions League for the first time last May.
Toure, who was obviously overwhelmed by emotion as a result of his back-to-back victory in Africa’s topmost football honour, thanked all for considering him worthy of the award.
“I thank you all for this honour, most especially my national team captain, Didier who is here this night,” observed the shy, soft spoken Man City player.
Egypt and Al Ahly forward, Mohammed Aboutrika, was also named Africa’s best player based in the continent. The 34-year-old player had similarly won the award in 2008.
Zambia were named the Africa’s National Team of the Year at CAF’s awards gala staged in Accra, Ghana Thursday night.
The Chipolopolo beat Cape Verde and Cote d’Ivoire to the accolade as the best team on the continent.
Zambia in the year under review clinched their first Nations Cup title earlier this year in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
They beat Cote d’Ivoire on penalties haven played a thrilling goalless draw game after 120 minutes of football.
Zambia is also currently top of their preliminary qualification group for the 2014 World Cup which has giants Ghana, Sudan and Lesotho as opponents.
The Chipolopolo will be defending their Nations Cup crown at next year's Nations Cup in South Africa.
They are drawn in Group C alongside Nigeria, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso and will open their campaign against the Black Lions on January 21.
Also Thursday night, Nzalang Nacional of Equatorial Guinea won the Women’s National Team of the Year award.
The State Banquet Hall venue of the ceremony was subdued after the Nzalang Nacional was named winners of the prestigious prize.
This was because the national Under-17 team of the host country were competing in this category as the only nominee from Ghana and were confident of snatching the award.
Equatorial Guinea was however named as winners much to the disappointment of the home crowd.
The Nzalang Nacional won their second African Women’s Championships earlier this year on home soil.
They won the title after destroying South Africa 4-0 in the grand finale before a packed stadium in Malabo.