- Ekong: I am honoured to be nominated
Super Eagles duo of Victor Moses and William Troost-Ekong have been named in the 2017 African Footballer of the Year Award even as 2016 winner Riyald Mahrez of Leicester City and Algeria failed to make the 30-man nominee list released wednesday.
Moses and Ekong have stiff opposition in Senegal and Liverpool forward, Sadio Mane and Mohammed Salah also of Liverpool and Egypt.
Moses is considered favourite for the award due to his fantastic season with Chelsea last year and his contributions to Nigeria picking the 2018 World Cup ticket from the group that had reigning African champions Cameroon, Algeria and Zambia.
Ekong, 24, who plys his trade with Bursaspor in the Turkish League on the other hand was an integral part of Super Eagles defence that only conceded three goals in five World Cup qualifying matches.
In all, there are five Premier League stars among those hoping to succeed Mahrez when the African Player of the Year is announced in Ghana on January 4. Other leagues that also contribute players to the 30-man list include; Spain’s La Liga and France’s Ligue 1 (4 players), German Bundesliga (2 players) while none is from the Italy’s Serie A.
Manchester United centre-back Eric Bailly from the Ivory Coast, Newcastle United and Ghana winger Christian Atsu are the other nominees from the English Premier League.
Prolific Borussia Dortmund forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the 2015 African Player of the Year and runner-up last year, is likely to be another strong contender.
Portuguese outfit Porto supply the most players with Algerian Yacine Brahimi, Malian Moussa Marega and Cameroonian Vincent Aboubakar listed.
Surprise 2017 Africa Cup of Nations winners Cameroon supplied three hopefuls – Aboubakar, Sevilla goalkeeper Fabrice Ondoa and China-based winger Christian Bassogog.
Voted the best player of the Cup of Nations in Gabon, Bassogog was less effective in World Cup qualifying as Cameroon failed to qualify for the 2018 finals in Russia.
Uganda goalkeeper Denis Onyango, who plays for South African club Mamelodi Sundowns, is among 30 nominees for the Africa-based Player of the Year, an award he won last year.
Another South Africa-based contender is former New Zealand striker Jeremy Brockie, who hails from the rugby heartland of Christchurch.
His 10 goals have helped SuperSport United qualify for the CAF Confederation Cup final against TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo later this month.
Speaking on his nomination for the CAF top award, Ekong said wednesday that he was delighted with the honour.
Ekong took to the social media shortly after the nominees for the prestigious award was announced to write: “Honoured to be nominated for African Player of the Year. Representing Nigeria together with @VictorMoses #CAF @NGSuperEagles”.
The former Tottenham Hotspur youth prodigy has also been impressive for Bursaspor this season, scoring twice in seven league outings.
Another Nigerian, Junior Ajayi of Al Ahly of Egypt was listed in the next category meant for players based in the continent. He is listed as number 16. The former Flying Eagles player is also eyeing the CAF Champions League trophy with the Egyptian side.
Nigerian energy giants, AITEO, are the headline sponsors of next year’s edition that will see players, officials and administrators who distinguished themselves during the year under review being honoured.
The winner will be decided by votes from the Head Coaches/Technical Directors of the National Associations affiliated to CAF, members of the CAF Technical and Development Committee and a panel of Media Experts.
The Awards Gala will be held on Thursday, 4 January 2018 in Accra, Ghana.
1. Ali Maaloul (Tunisia & Al Ahly)
2. Bertrand Traore (Burkina Faso & Lyon)
3. Cedric Bakambu (DR Congo & Villareal)
4. Christian Atsu (Ghana & Newcastle)
5. Christian Bassogog (Cameroon & Henan Jianye)
6. Denis Onyango (Uganda & Mamelodi Sundowns)
7. Eric Bailly (Cote d’Ivoire & Manchester United)
8. Essam El Hadary (Egypt & Al Taawoun)
9. Fabrice Ondoa (Cameroon & Sevilla)
10. Fackson Kapumbu (Zambia & Zesco)
11. Jean Michel Seri (Cote d’Ivoire & Nice)
12. Junior Kabananga (DR Congo & Astana)
13. Karim El Ahmadi (Morocco & Feyenoord)
14. Keita Balde (Senegal & Monaco)
15. Khalid Boutaib (Morocco & Yeni Malatyaspor)
16. Mbwana Samata (Tanzania & Genk)
17. Michael Olunga (Kenya & Girona)
18. Mohamed Salah (Egypt & Liverpool)
19. Moussa Marega (Mali & Porto)
20. Naby Keita (Guinea & RB Leipzig)
21. Percy Tau (South Africa & Mamelodi Sundowns)
22. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon & Borussia Dortmund)
23. Sadio Mane (Senegal & Liverpool)
24. Thomas Partey (Ghana & Atletico Madrid)
25. Victor Moses (Nigeria & Chelsea)
26. Vincent Aboubakar (Cameroon & Porto)
27. William Troost-Ekong (Nigeria & Bursaspor)
28. Yacine Brahimi (Algeria & Porto)
29. Youssef Msakni (Tunisia & Al Duhail)
30. Yves Bissouma (Mali & Lille)