YET again, the winner of the 2016 GLO-CAF African Footballer of the Year award will not be a Nigerian following the pruning of the initial list of 30 players.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) on Tuesday released the list of five players from the original 30 and none of the three Nigerians in the 30-player list – Kelechi Iheanacho, Ahmed Musa and John Obi Mikel made the cut, deflating the hope of a Nigerian being crowned the best footballer on the continent in the outgoing year.
Former Super Eagles captain, Kanu Nwankwo, is the last Nigerian player to win the diadem. Kanu’s emergence in 1999 was his second after he was named the winner in 1996, on the back of his sterling contributions to Nigeria’s gold medal effort at that year’s Olympics football event in Atlanta, USA.
Left to contest for the 2016 title are Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who is the current holder of the title. The Gabonese plays club football for Borussia Dortmund in the German Bundesliga; Senegal and Liverpool player, Sadio Mane and Egyptian Mohamed Salah, who currently features for AS Roma of Italy. The two others, incidentally from Algeria are Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani. Both of them play for Leicester City in the English Premiership.
Nigeria has also lost out in the race for the award for the African Footballer of the Year (Based in Africa) with the exclusion of Mfon Udoh and Chisom Chikatara from the five-player shortlist also released on Tuesday.
The five shortlisted players in this category are Dennis Onyango, Hlompho Kekana, Keegan Dolly and Khama Billiat from the 2016 African Champions League winning side, Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa, while T.P Mazembe player, Rainford Kalaba from Zambia completes the list
Other categories of Awards to be released by CAF in the coming weeks include Most promising Talent Award, National team of the year, Football Manager of the Year, Africa’s Finest Eleven, Goal of the Year and Save of the Year. Others are Referee of the Year, CAF fair play Award and African Legend Award.
The winners will be decided by votes from the Head Coaches and Technical Directors of the National Associations affiliated to CAF.
The Glo-CAF Awards Gala nite will take place on January 5, 2017 at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, Nigeria.