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All set for CAF Awards Gala tonight in Lagos

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The annual CAF Awards enters its 23rd edition this year and the Awards Gala will take place for the second successive time in Lagos, Nigeria.

On Thursday, 8 January 9, 2015; the King of African football will be crowned at the Eko Convention Centre in Lagos; amongst the trio of Yaya Toure, winner of the last three editions; Gabonese forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nigeria goalie Vincent Enyeama.

From 1992 to 2013, from Ghana’s Abedi Pele to Ivorian Toure, 14 players have laid claim to the most prestigious individual honour in African football.

Cameroonian Samuel Eto’o has been crowned an unprecedented four times – 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2010, whilst Toure has a hat-trick of titles (2011, 2012, 2013). Former Senegal forward, El Hadji Diouf won the award twice in a row; 2001 and 2002.

However, the first player to have been named CAF African footballer of the Year on two occasions remain ex-Nigeria captain, Nwankwo Kanu, in 1996 and 1999 before Ivorian Didier Drogba duplicated the feat in 2006 and 2009.

Winners of the prestigious honour have come from either the midfield or attack; and that tradition will either be respected yet again or broken for the first time with a goalkeeper amongst the contenders.

In addition, the 14 players to have been decorated since 1992 had and continue to remain amongst the foremost African ambassadors of the world’s most popular sport.

There are also several others who were closer yet too far, including Ivorian goalkeeper Alain Gouamene in 1992; Moroccan defender Noureddine Naybet (sixth in 1993); Nigerian Daniel Amokachi regularly featured among the top ten (10) whilst Chadian Japhet N’Doram was virtually handicapped by the non-presence of his national team at the final phase of a major continental championship.

South African defender, Mark Fish also settled for sixth position in 1996. Ghanaian defender Samuel Kuffour also narrowly missed out on two occasions, 1999 and 2001. When the roll call for the laureates is launched, there is one noticeable observation; Nigeria is the country which has the biggest number of laureates with five awards in total, two for Kanu, one each for Emmanuel Amunike, Rashidi Yekini and Victor Ikpeba just as Cote d’Ivoire, Toure (thrice) and Drogba (twice). Patrick Mboma won it once coupled with Eto’o’s four-time feat also gives Cameroon five titles. Diouf is responsible for the only two titles in the name of Senegal. One-time winners include Ghana – Abedi Pele, Liberia – George Weah (the only African player to have been crowned FIFA World Footballer of the Year), Morocco – Mustapha Hadji, Mali – Frederic Kanoute and Togo – Emmanuel Adebayor.

Another common feature is that all winners plied their trade in Europe at the time of their coronation. For the last eight years, the Awards Gala has been sponsored by Cellular Telecommunications outfit, Globacom, who have raised the bar of excellence with splendid ceremonies in cities such as Abuja, Accra, Lome, Lagos and Cairo.

This year, the Gala will take place for the successive time. Lagos previously hosted it in 2008.

For more Ghana football news visit www.ghanasoccernet.com

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