The Glo Caf Award Gala comes up at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, on Thursday, January 8.
Ivory Coast midfielder, Yaya Toure is on the verge of another record-breaking feat, but must first see off the challenges of Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama and Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, for the annual accolade voted for by coaches and captains of the continent’s national teams.
Regarded as the best goalkeeper on the black continent, many believe the LOSC Lille stalwart has the credential to become the first non outfield player to win the top prize.
Only legendary Cameroon goalkeeper Thomas Nkono and Badou Ezzaki from Morocco have won this award, in its previous format organized by France Football magazine.
Zaki was recognised as the best African player in 1986 following his performance at the 1986 Fifa World Cup and the Moroccan championship same year. Nkono was twice named the best African footballer in 1979 and 1982, the latter coming on the back of an impressive run at Espana 82 as the Indomitable Lions went out in the group stages without losing a match, with Nkono conceding just once against Italy.
While the chances of a goalkeeper winning a top football prize, keep dwindling with the emergence of lanky midfielders, pacy and predatory forwards and imperious wingers, Enyeama could yet push far for the Caf African Player of the Year award this term judging by his record at both international and club level.
“If he wins it, he deserved it because in the last few years he has been the best goalkeeper in Africa,” said Super Eagles assistant manager Daniel Amokachi.
“At the same time he has been fantastic in the last two seasons in the French league, even this year winning the best goalkeeper in France.”
Enyeama kept 11 consecutive clean sheets in league matches during the first half of the 2013/14 campaign, falling shy of Gaetan Huard’s overall French Ligue 1 goalkeeping record of successive clean sheets (1,176mins) by only 115 minutes.
He went on to feature in all Super Eagles matches at the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil, helping the side reach the knockout stages before eventually losing out to France in Brasilia.
He won the RFI-France 24 Marc-Vivien Foe Award for the best African Player in the French Ligue 1 for the 2013/14 season and was named the best goalkeeper in the French top division in 2014.
“He would be up against tough and stiff opposition. You know Yaya Toure is probably in the best form of his life and we always seem to look at giving the award to strikers who are doing well. I think that is the only disadvantage for Enyeama going into the award,” Amokachi, who came third behind compatriot Nwankwo Kanu and George Weah at the 1996 Gala noted.
Yaya Toure is a sure bet for a fourth successive African Footballer of the Year title on the heel of another successful 2013-14 season with Premier League champions Manchester City.
The Cote d’Ivoire playmaker is on the verge of becoming the first player to win the award four times on the trot, overtaking Cameroonian Samuel Eto’O, who won the prize between 2003 and 2005 and claimed his last in 2010.
Toure suffered another harsh fate at the World Cup as Cote d’Ivoire failed to advance into the round of 16, all thanks to a last-gasp goal by Greece in their final group stage match. The Elephants yet needed a final day push during the final tournament for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations to clinch their ticket for the Equatorial Guinea finals.
Moreover, Toure was accountable for Man City’s equaliser against Sunderland in the 2014 League Cup final, which the Etihad Stadium outfit won 3-1. His 20 goals in 35 matches helped Manuel Pellegrini’s side clinch a second English championship in three years.
Aubameyang featured for Borussia Dortmund as they completed a German Super Cup double against fierce rivals Bayern Munich in the last two seasons and, even grabbed the Westfalendians’ second goal in the 2-0 victory last August.
The former AC Milan youth player, who arrived at the Signa Iduna Park from Saint Etienne in July 2013, ended his first German Bundesliga season with 13 league goals from 32 appearances as Dortmund finished runners-up behind champions Bayern.
He helped Gabon qualify for the 2015 Afcon- scoring twice in the process- but missed their last two matches due to his club’s controversial concern on the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa.