Dider Drogba leads 10-strong field nominated for African Player of the Year award
Ivory Coast striker scored penalty that won European Champions League for Chelsea
Christopher Katongo led Zambia to their first ever Africa Cup of Nations triumph
English-based trio Yaya Toure, Demba Ba, Jon Obi Mikel all nominated
Didier Drogba, the man who secured Chelsea’s first ever European Champions League triumph, leads the nominations for Africa’s Player of the Year award.
The striker’s winning penalty in a dramatic shootout against German giants Bayern Munich was his last strike of the ball for the English club, with whom he spent eight seasons.
Drogba, who is a huge star back in the Ivory Coast and is credited with a pivotal role in ending the country’s civil war, now plays for Shanghai Shenhua in China.
Also on the list is Christopher Katongo, who led Zambia to a maiden Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) victory earlier in 2012, as they beat Drogba’s Ivory Coast in the final.
The minnows stunned the continent as they triumphed at the finals, hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, and Katongo was named player of the tournament.
Like Drogba, the 30-year-old plays in China, for Henan Construction, and has scored 19 goals in 74 appearances for Zambia, as he helped his country ensure they will defend their trophy in 2013 in South Africa.
There are a quartet of English based players on the list, with Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure, an Ivory Coast teammate of Drogba, prominent among them.
Toure, alongside brother Kolo, helped City claim their first English league title in 44 years in a thrilling end to the 2011/12 campaign and was named in the Premier League team of the season.
Senegalese striker Demba Ba has become a firm fans’ favorite at Newcastle United, scoring 23 goals in his 44 Premier League appearances so far.
Like Drogba, Nigeria’s Jon Obi Mikel was part of Chelsea’s squad which won the Champions League and also England’s premier domestic cup competition, the FA Cup.
Arsenal’s Gervinho was also on the losing side in the CAN final, after his goal helped Ivory Coast beat Mali in the last four.
New Barcelona signing Alex Song has also made the cut. After an impressive season with Arsenal the defensive midfielder earned a high-profile move to the Spanish giants prior to the start of the 2012/13 season.
There is a place on the list for Marseille’s Ghanaian winger Andre Ayew, who helped take his country to the semifinals of the Africa Cup of Nations in 2012.
Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is another French-based player to earn a nomination, after finishing as joint top scorer at the CAN with three goals.
The final name is Morocco’s Younes Belhanda, who scored 13 times as his club side Montpellier won the French league title.
The 22-year-old was named in the French league’s team of the season and was crowned young player of the year.
African soccer’s governing body, the Confederation of African Football (CAF), has also announced five candidates for their Africa-based Player of the Year Award.
There are two players who represent DR Congo club TP Mazembe – Rainford Kalaba and Stoppila Sunzu – Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Aboutreika, who plays in his native country for Al-Ahly, and Yannick N’Djeng and Yousse Msakni who both play for Tunisian club Esperance Sportive de Tunis.