Abou-Trika short-listed for top African award

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JOHANNESBURG: A new name will be engraved on the African Footballer of the Year trophy next month after three stars were short-listed on Wednesday for the 2008 award.

Arsenal and Togo striker Emmanuel Adebayor is favored to top a poll among Africa-based national coaches with midfielders Michael Essien of Chelsea and Ghana, and Mohamed Abou-Trika of Al-Ahly and Egypt the other contenders.

Long-term injury casualty Essien finished second and third in the previous two editions of the African Football Confederation-organized competition while Adebayor and Abou-Trika have never featured among the top three.

The omission from the original list of struggling Chelsea striker Didier Drogba came as no surprise and saved the organizers potential embarrassment as the Ivorian said he had no interest in the award.

His decision stemmed from being denied the title last year after refusing to leave the African Nations Cup tournament in Ghana to attend the Footballer of the Year ceremony in neighboring Togo.

France-born Mali striker Frederic Kanoute received the trophy instead and became the first footballer born outside Africa to win a competition started in 1970 and taken over by CAF 16 years ago.

Egypt striker Amr Zaki, who has made a big impression on loan to Wigan this season scoring 10 English Premiership goals, was a surprise exclusion given that Essien has not played since being injured in Libya last June.

Adebayor has struck seven Premiership goals for Arsenal and hit four in a World Cup qualifier against Swaziland last October to keep alive Togolese hopes of a second consecutive appearance when South Africa play hosts next year.

Abou-Trika, a pivotal figure last year in the Nations Cup success of Egypt and the African Champions League triumph of Al-Ahly, seems the leading candidate for the new Africa Footballer of the Year award.

This is restricted to stars playing in Africa and two other Ahly stalwarts, veteran midfielder Ahmed Hassan and Angola-born striker Flavio Amado, are among the challengers.

Stephen Worgu, the young Nigerian who scored 13 Champions League goals for semi-finalists Enyimba, and another striker, Mputu Mabi from Democratic Republic of Congo club Tout Puissant Mazembe, complete the list.

Egypt appear set to win the National team of the Year title having captured the Nations Cup a record sixth time in Accra courtesy of an Abou-Trika goal against Cameroon.

Pharaohs coach Hassan Shehata, also the architect of the 2006 Nations Cup triumph, is in contention for Coach of the Year with his strongest competition likely to come from Portugoal-born Al-Ahly boss Manuel Jose.

The awards ceremony will be staged on Feb. 10 in Lagos with hopes of a Nigerian success resting with Worgu, Young Footballer of the Year candidate Victor Nsofor and the Super Eagles in the national team category. -AFP

CAF award nominees (in alphabetical order):

Footballer of the Year

Mohamed Abou-Trika (Egypt and Al-Ahly)

Emmanuel Adebayor (Togo and Arsenal/ENG)

Michael Essien (Ghana and Chelsea/ENG)

Africa Footballer of the Year

Mohamed Abou-Trika (Egypt and Al-Ahly)

Flavio Amado (Angola and Al-Ahly/EGY)

Ahmed Hassan (Egypt and Al-Ahly)

Mputu Mabi (Democratic Republic of Congo and Tout Puissant Mazembe)

Stephen Worgu (Nigeria and Enyimba)

Young Footballer of the Year

Salomon Kalou (Ivory Coast and Chelsea/ENG)

Stephane Mbia (Cameroon and Rennes/FRA)

Victor Nsofor (Nigeria and Inter Milan/ITA)

Women s Footballer of the Year

Genevova Anonma (Equatorial Guinea)

Ngo Marlyse (Cameroon)

Alice Matlou (South Africa)

Coach of the Year

Manuel Jose (Portugal and Al-Ahly/EGY)

Alain Ouembleon (Ivory Coast and Cotonsport Garoua/CMR)

Hassan Shehata (Egypt)

National team of the Year




Club of the Year

Al-Ahly (EGY)

Cotonsport Garoua (CMR)

CS Sfaxien (TUN)

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