The African Footballer of the Year (CAF) award, for the best footballer from the continent each year, has been organised by the Confederation of African Football CAF since 1992. Before then, France Football magazine had organised the African Footballer of the Year Golden Ball award between 1970 and 1994.
The award was discontinued in 1995 after the European Footballer of the Year (Ballon d’or) was opened to players of non-European nationality, that year’s edition going historically to Liberia’s George Weah. It had already been replaced by an official award given out by CAF since 1992.
Can Ayew evoke father’s magic?
Ghana’s Abedi Pele won the African Footballer of the Year Award thrice. He won in 1991, 1992 and 1993 while it was still awarded by France Football. He also won the first edition awarded by Confederation of African Football in 1992.
Ayew, father of Andre Ayew, who is nominated for this year’s award, was Ghana’s National team captain and had 73 caps and 33 goals, surpassed only recently by Asamoah Gyan. He is seen by many football experts as one of the greatest soccer stars ever to come out of Africa.
Andre Ayew, who played for Olympique Marseille, was third in the CAF Award in 2011. All eyes are on him to spring a surprise in the 2015 edition, especially given his impressive run in recent time for country and in the English Premier League for Swansea City FC.
Ghana’s past winners of Glo-CAF award
Apart from Abedi Pele, Ibrahim Sunday and Karim Abdul Razak also won the top continental football award when it was awarded by France Football. While Ibrahim Sunday won in 1971, Karim Abdul Razak took the crown in 1978.
Ibrahim Sunday played for Asante Kotoko, where he later became captain. In 1970, the club won the African Cup of Champions, (which was later renamed CAF Champions League), the first international title won by Kotoko. He also played for the Ghana national team, participating in two Africa Nations Cup tournaments in 1966 and 1970. He was in the Ghana team to the 1972 Olympics.
Karim Abdul Razak, known to many as the “Golden Boy”, was a respected figure in the Black Stars, which he helped to win the 1978 African Cup of Nations. His impressive performance earned him the African Footballer of the Year later title that year. The Confederation of African Football (CAF) in 2007 ranked him as one of the 30 best footballers of the previous 50 years. He made 70 appearances for Ghana, scoring 25 goals.
Ghana’s impressive outings in the “Coach of the Year” category
Ghana has had 2 indigenous coaches winning the Coach of the Year Award since its introduction in 2000 Cecil Jones Attuquayefio won the inaugural award in 2000 with his sterling showing with Heart of Oaks.
Hearts played all the matches that year with only one loss to DC Motema Pembe. Such was the discipline, focus and hunger that he brought to the team. A former player for the national team, he was part of the team that won the 1965 Nations Cup. The esteemed coach passed on in May 2015. Even in death, Attuquayefio still commands the respect of soccer loving Ghanaians.
In 2009, Sellas Tetteh also won the award with the inspiring lads of the Ghana U-20 team which won the African U-20 Championship and went ahead to win the U-20 World Cup in Egypt in October 2009.
The team beat Brazil to win the cup. Tetteh has managed the Ghana U-17, U-20 and U-23 national teams. Sellas Tetteh remains till date, the only African to have had the achievement of tutoring a team to win the U-20 World Cup.
Tetteh was recently named interim coach of Sierra Leone senior national football team following an agreement between the Sierra Leone and Ghana football associations.
GOOD SHOWING IN FEMALE PLAYER OF THE YEAR CATEGORY
The CAF Female Player of the Year award category was introduced in 2001 to address the progressive growth of Women Football on the continent. Nigeria has dominated this category, having won it eight times. Ghana has won it twice through Albert Sackey and Adjoa Bayor. While Alberta won in 2002, Adjoa won the next year, 2003.
Sackey’s goal against Australia in the 2003 World Cup made history as it was nominated by FIFA among the greatest goals in Women’s World Cup history. She is the only African so honoured.
Adjoa Bayor was the captain of the Ghana female national team at the World Cup in China where she scored a remarkable free kick against Norway. She had 33 caps for the national team.
AFRICAN INTER-CLUB PLAYER OF THE YEAR (BASED IN AFRICA)
The African Inter-Club Player of the Year category for players based in Africa has been a three-nation affair since the award category was introduced in 2005. The award has circulated among Egypt, Congo DR and Tunisia. However, Egypt has established a dominance that is difficult to wrest, having won it six times out of ten. Congo DR and Tunisia have both won it twice.
Ghana’s close shaves at the Awards
Ghana came close to winning the CAF African Footballer of the Year award eleven times between 1992 and 2011.
Ex-international, Anthony Yeboah, who played then for Eintracht Frankfurt, was third in the France Football edition of the award in 1992 and second in 1993. He lost both years to Abedi Pele, who won both the FF edition and the CAF inaugural edition in 1992.
Samuel Kuffour, who played for Bayern Munich, came second in 1999 and 2001. Chelsea midfield maestro, Michael Essien also lost in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009, coming third each time, except 2007, when he came in second position.
Asamoah Gyan also lost it in 2010 when he came in second place. Ex Olympique Marseille striker, Andre Ayew, who was in third place in 2011, carries the aspirations of all of Ghana for a well-deserved continental recognition this time around. His good run for Ghana and Swansea in the English Premier League should stand him in good stead for the honour.
THE BIG BOYS OF THE AWARD
Ghana has won 6 times the African Footballer Award while it was being handled by France Football. It has also it won once since 1992 when CAF began to organise the award.
Cameroon has won it 11 times, Cote D’Ivoire eight times. Nigeria has won five times, while Morocco won four times.
Liberia got it thrice through George Weah and Algeria, Mali Senegal have each won it twice.
WHERE ARE GHANA’S PROMISING TALENTS?
Ghana has only featured twice in “The Most Promising Talent” award category since it was introduced in 2001. It is meant to recognise the most promising young players as a way of motivating upcoming talents on the continent.
In 2009, Dominic Adiyiah won the award while the following year, Kwadwo Asamoah also clinched it.
Having won a couple of laurels, Dominic Adiyiah was expected to graduate to the bigger turf. He was named the Most Exciting Player in the Ghana Premier League in 2007-2008 season. In 2009, he was voted FIFA U-20 World Cup Golden Ball and Golden Shoe winner, two awards that primed him for a future of exciting super league football.
These honours set him in good stead for the CAF Most Promising Talent award later in the year. However, playing professional football in Turkey, Serbia, Ukraine and Thailand somehow buried rather than promote a once promising career.
Asamoah, on the other hand was named Ghana Player of the Year in 2012 and 2013. His team, Juventus went ahead to win the Serie A last season despite Asamoah’s severe knee injury suffered on 1 November 2014, during the 10th league match of the season. He didn’t recover till late in the season and the opportunity of shinning was whittled by that career-threatening injury. This season, he has also had to contend with being out of action for club and country.
Bloomberg ranked Asamoah as the 27th best footballer in the world in 2013. Many football loving Ghanaians would have loved to see his name ringing among the top contenders for the CAF African Footballer of the Year award.
Asamoah is 27 years old, giving little hope of breaking into the elite crop of contenders for the award in the nearest future.
When will the promising talents take over the centre stage?
The Glo- CAF Awards Gala will take place on Thursday, 8 January 2015 in Lagos, Nigeria.
Source: Kofi Owusu Aduonum.