AITEO/CAF AWARDS 2017

Duro Ikhazuagbe

In the absence of the winner of the last edition in 2016 Riyad Mahrez of Algeria and Leicester City, Africa’s top honour, the Aiteo/CAF award for the best footballer of the year will be handed out this evening at the Accra International Conference Centre in Ghana.

Nigeria’s nominee in the initial list released in November by the Confederation of African Football (CAF), Victor Moses lost out in the last three that included 2015 winner, Gabon and Borussia Dortmund forward, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Liverpool duo of Sadio Mane of Senegal and Egypt’s Mohamed Salah. Mahrez was not listed in the initial nominations released earlier for the 2017 edition.

From the inaugural Awards in 1992, there have been 16 winners including four Nigerians (one of them, Rashidi Yekini (1993), now of blessed memory), while John Mikel Obi (now Super Eagles’ captain) was runner-up in 2013 and goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama came third in 2014. Other Nigerians on the honour list include; Emmanuel Amuneke (1994), Nwankwo Kanu (1996 and 1999 and Victor Ikpeba (1997).

It remains a mystery of the Awards that former Super Eagles’ Captain Austin Jay Jay Okocha is not among the 16 previous winners. Many still feel he was good enough for it in 2004, when he was the Most Valuable Player of the AFCON and had a year to treasure with Bolton Wanderers in the English Premiership.

However, football aficionados in the continent have pointed out that this 2017 edition of the award is going to be a close fight with the winner emerging with a very slim margin.

All the three nominees had good run for both club and country early in the year but Mane and Salah have the edge, leading their respective countries to qualify for World Cup in Russia. Aubameyang on the other hand was very influential in the modest achievement of Dortmund in winning the German Cup last May as well as finishing as top scorer in the Bundesliga last season, netting 31 goals.

Will Salah’s last minute blitz in all competitions for Liverpool that influenced his been selected as 2017 BBC African Player of the Year also play a part in him picking this continental top honour this evening? Will it be the turn of Senegal’s Mane who has been included in the CAF Team of the Year for 2015 and 2016? It is just a matter of hours before the player who will rule the continent as the best for the next 12 calendar months is unveiled.

The evening however will not be about the trio alone as CAF has other categories of shortlists to be also honoured. The Player of the Year (based in Africa) category was however yanked off from this edition with no explanation from CAF.

In the Coach of the Year category, Franco-German gaffer, Gernot Rohr who led the Super Eagles to pick the first ticket to Russia 2018 with a game to spare is nominated along with Hector Cuper (Egypt) and L’Hussein Amoutta  of Wydad Athletic Club of Morocco.

Hugo Broos, who led Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions to the Africa Cup of Nations title in February, missed out on the final three-man list after being named among the original five nominees.

Nigeria also has Asisat Oshoala in the run to retain the African Best Player award in the women’s category.

SHORTLIST

African Player of the Year:

  • Mohamed Salah (Egypt and Liverpool)
  • Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon and B. Dortmund)
  • Sadio Mane (Senegal and Liverpool)

Women’s Player of the Year:

  • Asisat Oshoala (Nigeria and Dalian Quanjian)
  • Chrestina Kgatlana (South Africa and UWC Ladies)
  • Gabrielle Aboudi Onguene(Cameroon and CSKA Moscow)

Women’s National Team of the Year:

  • Ghana U-20
  • Nigeria U-20
  • South Africa

Coach of the Year:

  • Gernot Rohr (Nigeria)
  • Hector Cuper (Egypt)
  • L’Hussein Amoutta (Wydad Athletic Club)

National Team of the Year:

  • Cameroon
  • Egypt
  • Nigeria

Club of the Year:

  • Al Ahly
  • TP Mazembe
  • Wydad Athletic Club

Youth Player of the Year:

  • Krepin Diatta (Senegal and Sarpsborg)
  • Patson Daka (Zambia and Liefering)
  • Salam Giddou (Mali and Guidars)

PREVIOUS WINNERS

 

1992: Abedi Pele (Ghana)

1993: Rashidi Yekini (Nigeria)

1994: Emmanuel Amuneke (Nigeria)

1995: George Weah (Liberia)

1996: Nwankwo Kanu (Nigeria)

1997: Victor Ikpeba (Nigeria)

1998: Mustapha Hadji (Morocco)

1999: Nwankwo Kanu (Nigeria)

2000: Patrick Mboma (Cameroon)

2001: El-Hadji Diouf (Senegal)

2002: El-Hadji Diouf (Senegal)

2003: Samuel Eto’o Fils (Cameroon)

2004: Samuel Eto’o Fils (Cameroon)

2005: Samuel Eto’o Fils (Cameroon)

2006: Didier Drogba (Cote d’Ivoire)

2007: Frederic Kanoute (Mali)

2008: Emmanuel Adebayor (Togo)

2009: Didier Drogba (Cote d’Ivoire)

2010: Samuel Eto’o Fils (Cameroon)

2011: Yaya Toure (Cote d’Ivoire)

2012: Yaya Toure (Cote d’Ivoire)

2013: Yaya Toure (Cote d’Ivoire)

2014: Yaya Toure (Cote d’Ivoire)

2015: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon)

2016: Riyad Mahrez (Algeria)