|Drogba, Mikel, Toure|
The contenders for the crown are Ivorian duo, Yaya Toure and Didier Drogba, who are facing stiff opposition from Nigerian midfielder John Obi Mikel.
Toure has won the most prestigious individual honour in African football the last two years, 2011 and 2012; whilst Drogba picked up the coveted prize in 2006 and 2009.However, 26-year old Mikel, who stars for English giants, Chelsea is hoping to gatecrash a third title ambition of the Ivorian duo. No Nigerian player has annexed the prize since ex-captain Nwankwo Kanu’s coronation in 1999. The latter was first crowned in 1996.
The Chelsea midfielder is Nigeria’s biggest hope of landing the elusive crown for the first time in more than a decade, but faces great competition from Drogba and Toure. He is the last Nigerian standing after an initial 10-man short list that included compatriots Ahmed Musa, Emmanuel Emenike and goalie Vincent Enyeama.
Toure, who turns 31 in May has history on his side as he will become the second player after Cameroonian Samuel Eto’o to be crowned the foremost footballer on the continent three times in a row. Eto’o achieved the feat in 2003, 2004 and 2005.
At 35, Drogba continues to glow and wants to add to his rich list of honours after becoming the first Ivorian to win the award in 2006. A feat that will eventually pave the way for Toure, who will narrowly pip him to the crown last year.The winner will be decided by votes from the Head Coaches or the Technical Directors affiliated to CAF.
Below are the profiles of the top three nominees:
Name: Didier Drogba
Date of Birth: March 11, 1978
Country: Cote d’Ivoire
Club: Galatasaray (Turkey)
At 35, Drogba has yet to lose his shine, scoring three goals as the Elephants reached a third successive World Cup appearance. The striker has bounced back from a disappointing spell in China and has been banging the goals in Turkey. He scored five in 13 appearances during Galatasaray’s triumph in the 2012-13 season. In the current season, Drogba has scored nine times in all competitions for Galatasaray including the UEFA Champions League.
Name: John Obi Mikel
Date of Birth: April 22, 1987
Club: Chelsea (England)
Mikel is enjoying probably his best moment in football. A regular with the star-studded Chelsea, he played an influential role in the buildup to the 2013 UEFA Europa League crown. In September 21 this year, he broke his goal duck in the English Premier League with his first goal in 185 matches in a 2-0 win over Fulham. Also, he netted a cracker against Uruguay at the FIFA Confederation Cup in Brazil in July besides claiming a gold medal with the Super Eagles at the Africa Cup of Nations. He was also instrumental for Nigeria in the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
Name: Yaya Toure
Date of Birth: May 13, 1983
Country: Cote d’Ivoire
Club: Manchester City (England)
Winner of the last two editions of the African Player of the Year, Toure is still at his peak. He scored two goals including a spectacular free-kick against Tunisia at the group stage of the 2013 AFCON. Though the Elephants failed to go past the quarters, he has served the pillar of the Ivorian team in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, netting four goals in the process. At Manchester City, he is a cult figure and has been the driving force for the club. For the current 2013-14 season, the midfielder has found the back of the net five times in 11 games.