Toure, Still Best in Africa

Yaya Toure, Ivorien footballer, wins the Confederation of African Footballer of the Year three times consecutively

|  By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Jan. 20, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT

AGAIN Nigerian players have failed to win the African individual prestigious award. The Confederation of African Football, CAF, on Thursday, January 9, crowed Yaya Toure, Cote D’Ivoire and Manchester City of England midfielder, the 2013 African Footballer of the Year. Toure edged out Nigeria’s Mikel John Obi and fellow Ivorien, Didier Drogba, to win the award for a third time in a row, emulating Abedi Pele of Ghana and Samuel Eto’o of Cameroon.

At the award gala ceremony held at the Eko Hotel in Lagos, Toure said he was very proud and happy to have won again. “I congratulate my brother John Obi Mikel who deserves it as well. It’s an unbelievable award for all those who helped me through my career and those who supported me for a long time,” he said.

The Ivorien came top of a poll voted by Africa’s national team coaches. Toure’s success came at the end of a bleak 12-month period for individual achievement by African footballers. His official citation praised him for helping Cote d’Ivoire to qualify for the World Cup in Brazil, but his success was more likely for his consistency at club level and the dominant role he plays at Manchester City.

Toure receiving the CAF award
Toure receiving the CAF award

Mikel was highly favoured by many Nigerians who saw his exploits and team successes with club and country in 2013 as the best credential to earn him the award which had eluded Nigerian footballers since Kanu Nwankwo won it in the year 1999. The Nigerian had played a vital role in Chelsea’s road to winning Europa League and Nigeria’s Cup of Nations in 2013. When Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire met at the AFCON, at quarter-final, it was Mikel who truly rose to the occasion.

He was a majestic influence and continued his fine form at the tournament dictating the play for the Super Eagles, inspiring the players and driving the team forward. He was also the creative heartbeat of the side which went on to win the continental title. Toure’s country went out at the quarter-final. Based on his overall performances, many football fans in Nigeria were of the opinion that Mikel should have won the crown.

Nevertheless, Nigeria confirmed its status as the number one football country on the African continent during the year 2013 by winning in five categories. The Nigerian Super Eagles won the award for the ‘National Team of the Year’, while the national Under-17 team, Golden Eaglets, also won ‘Youth National Team of the Year’. Both teams had been expected by many pundits to claim the awards, having won major tournaments at continental and global levels during the year in review. Kelechi Iheanacho, Golden Eaglets’ wonder kid and 2013 FIFA Under-17 World Cup best player, won the ‘Most Promising Talent’ Award. Stephen Keshi, Super Eagles coach, was named ‘African Coach of the Year’.

Fair Play Award went to the Nigerian Supporters Club. Other winners at the award were Mohammed Aboutreika of Egypt, who beat Nigeria’s Sunday Mba, to win the ‘African Player of the Year based in Africa’, while the ‘Club of the Year’ went to Al Ahly FC of Egypt.

The ‘Referee of the Year’ award went to Haimoudi Djamel of Algeria. The African Team of the Year is made up of Vincent Enyeama, Nigeria, Ahmed Fathy, Egypt, Mehdi, Morocco, Kevin Constant, Guinea, Mikel Obi, Nigeria, Mohammed Aboutreika, Egypt, Yaya Toure, Cote D’Ivoire, Jonathan Pitroipa, Burkina Faso, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Gabon, Emmanuel Emenike, Nigeria, Asamoah Gyan, Ghana and Stephen Keshi, Nigeria, as coach of the team.