• Eto’o, 25 others also in contention
Nigeria stars, Kelechi Iheanacho, Mikel Obi and Ahmed Musa are among the 30 players nominated for the Confederation of African Football (CAF) African Footballer of the Year 2016 award.
This is Iheanacho’s first-ever nomination for the continent’s top individual accolade after he enjoyed a breakthrough season with Manchester City in the English Premier League.
The youthful striker has also established himself at full international level after he had represented Nigeria at U-17 and U-20 levels.
Iheanacho, who was adjudged the 2013 FIFA U-17 Most Valuable Player (MVP), clinched the BBC Goal of the Week award, after his stunning goal gave the Super Eagles a 1-0 victory over Taifa Stars of Tanzania in a deadrubber 2017 AFCON qualifier in Uyo.
The Imo State-born lad was also on song when Nigeria defeated Zambia in Ndola 2-1 in a 2018 World Cup qualifier with a strike that made nonsense of three defenders as well as goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene.
Chelsea midfielder, Mikel inspired Nigeria to win bronze at the recently-held Rio 2016 Olympics, while Ahmed Musa shone with Russian champions, CSKA Moscow before his record move to the reigning English Premier League champions, Leicester City, this season.
It will be recalled that Gabon and Borussia Dortmund striker, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang won the award last year in a colourful ceremony held in the city of Abuja, Nigeria.
Abuja will again host the 2016 awards on january 5, 2017.
The 30 nominees:
1.Ahmed Musa (Nigeria & Leicester City)
2.Andre Ayew (Ghana & West Ham)
3.Aymen Abdennour (Tunisia & Valencia)
4.Benjamin Mounkandjo (Cameroon & Lorient)
5.Cedric Bakambu (DR Congo & Villareal)
6.Dennis Onyango (Uganda & Mamelodi Sundowns)
7.El Arabi Hillel Soudani (Algeria & Dinamo Zagreb)
8.Eric Bailly (Cote d’Ivoire & Manchester United)
9.Hakim Ziyech (Morocco & Ajax)
10.Islam Slimani (Algeria & Leicester City)
11.Itumeleng Khune (South Africa & Kaizer Chiefs)
12.John Mikel Obi (Nigeria & Chelsea)
13.Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal & Napoli)
14.Keegan Dolly (South Africa & Mamelodi Sundowns)
15.Kelechi Iheanacho (Nigeria & Manchester City)
16.Khama Billiat (Zimbabwe & Mamelodi Sundowns)
17.Mbwana Samatta (Tanzania & Genk)
18.Mehdi Benatia (Morocco & Juventus)
19.Mohamed El Neny (Egypt & Arsenal)
20.Mohamed Salah (Egypt & Roma)
21.Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon & Dortmund)
22.Riyad Mahrez (Algeria & Leicester City)
23.Sadio Mane (Senegal & Liverpool)
24.Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon & Antalyaspor)
25.Serge Aurier (Cote d’Ivoire & PSG)
26.Victor Wanyama (Kenya & Tottenham)
27.Wahbi Khazri (Tunisia & Sunderland)
28.William Jebor (Liberia & Wydad Athletic Club)
29.Yannick Bolasie (DR Congo & Everton)
30.Yao Kouasi Gervais ‘Gervinho’ (Cote d’Ivoire & Hebei Fortune)