The BBC has released their 5-man shortlist for the African Footballer of the Year. No doubt some of the names on the list will be expected by most fans but there will definitely be one or two surprises. The short list consists of:
Demba Ba – Newcastle & Senegal
Yaya Toure – Manchester City & Côte d’Ivoire
Didier Drogba – Shanghai Shenhua & Côte d’Ivoire
Christopher Katongo – Henan Construction & Zambia
Younés Belhanda – Montpellier & Morocco
Premier league fans will be familiar with three of the names on the list as Demba Ba, Yaya Toure, and Didier Drogba have all played their trade in Britain. Drogba has been rumoured to have had a turbulent time over in China with fellow former-Chelsea star Nicolas Anelka. The Côte d’Ivoire star has however continued the scoring form he was expected to meet at Chelsea, but FIFA blocked his attempted loan move from Shanghai in order to be ready and match fit for the African Cup of Nations.
Demba Ba has been in fine form as of late for both club and country, despite Senegal having a terrible African Cup of Nations earlier on in the year. Playing alongside fellow countryman Papiss Cissé, Ba has continued the form that he started off last season, with a scoring run that led many to call for him to be awarded Alan Shearer’s icon number 9 shirt. Although mainly utilized as a sub this season Ba has no doubt shone.
Yaya Toure, started off the 2012/2013 season by picking up the community shield at Villa Park in Manchester City’s 3-2 win over Chelsea. This was followed with strikes against Liverpool and QPR, as well as a fine display against Real Madrid. 2012 also saw Toure pick up a league winners medal with Manchester City.
Younés Belhanda might not be the first name off of most people’s lips but the creative winger as had a fine season at Montpellier. Born in France, and of Moroccan decent Belhanda represented France at Under 20 level before opting to switch allegiance to Morocco in 2010. Belhanda won the French Ligue 1 with Montpellier who managed to pip favourites Paris Saint Germain to the title by just three points.
Possibly the least famous player from the selection, few European fans will know Zambia captain Christopher Katongo. Playing his trade for Henan Construction in the Chinese Super League, Katongo certainly isn’t one of the global superstars on the list. None of the less the Zambian captain had a strong 2012, picking up the African Cup of Nations for Zambia, and picking up player of the tournament himself. Zambia beat Côte d’Ivoire on penalties with Katongo scoring the first penalty.
Tthe African Footballer of the Year award is set be a hotly contested award this year with any of the 5 players in the shortlist likely to win.