The Confederation of African Football, CAF, will hold its annual awards ceremony December 20th in Accra, Ghana. The biggest prize to be handed out in the Ghanaian capital is the African Player of the Year, and if recent history is any indicator, there’s a good chance the trophy will be lifted by a striker. Nine of the past 10 winners have been strikers, with the only exception 2011 African Footballer of the Year Yaya Toure, the rugged and powerful midfielder for Manchester City and Ivory Coast.
Toure is again a top contender for the 2012 award. African football analyst David Legge says the Ivorian has been very consistent for Man City and he was a key factor in helping the club win its first English Premiership title in 44 years.
Legge’s three other picks for the award are all strikers – Demba Ba of Senegal, Didier Drogba of Ivory Coast and Christopher Katongo of reigning African champion Zambia. Ba is based in England with Newcastle United, while
Drogba and Katongo are currently with the Chinese clubs Shanghai Shenhua and Henan Construction, respectively.
Drogba was named the African Footballer of the Year in 2006 and in 2009 and he was recently picked by Chelsea fans as the club’s greatest ever player. “For part of this year, Drogba was playing for Chelsea,” says Legge, “and it was his penalty kick that gave Chelsea at long last the UEFA Champions League title.” Katongo captained the Zambian team that won its first ever African title earlier this year in Libreville, Gabon, a championship that Legge describes as “the story of African football in 2012.” And Ba, according to Legge, “has been banging in the goals for Newcastle United.”
Banging in the goals does seem to capture the attention of the head coaches and top officials from CAF member associations whose votes will decide the winner of the 2012 African Footballer of the Year award. We have to go back to 1986, when Moroccan goalkeeper Badou Zaki won the prize, to find a defender who won the much coveted honor.