Ivorian Didier Drogba and Yaya Toure, Ghanaian Michael Essien, Cameroonian Samuel Eto’o and Congolese Tresor Mputu Mabi have been short-listed for the annual BBC African Footballer of the Year award for 2009.
Announcing the nominees, Fast Track, the BBC World Service’s flagship sports programme for Africa revealed the selection had been done by football experts throughout Africa.
Farayi Mungazi, the host of Fast Track said, “It’s really nice to see a player such as Mputu Mabi who plays in Africa being selected alongside the African stars playing in the Premiership or European leagues. It’ll be a shock to some fans that last year’s African Footballer of the Year winner, Mohamed Aboutrika of Al Ahly and Egypt, hasn’t made it into the 2009 final five. But this award is designed to focus on the performance over the past 12 months. This year’s contest could be really hard-fought.”
The winner will be determined by public votes. The voting (done online at bbcworldservice.com/africanfootball and by SMS to +447786 200 070) started at 17.00 hours GMT on November 30, 2009 and will run until January 4, 2010.
The winner from among Chelsea’s Drogba and Essien, Inter Milan’s Eto’o, Barcelona’s Toure and TP Mazembe’s Mabi will be announced live on Fast Track from Angola on January 8, 2010. This will precede the opening of the game of Africa Cup of Nations in Luanda on January 10, 2010 that BBC World Service will cover.
Fast Track is broadcast on Mondays and Fridays at 16.00 hours GMT and on Sundays at 18.20 hours GMT.
Though to a casual observer this BBC African Footballer of the Year 2009 Award nomination may not mean much, but the short-listing is significant as it shows that not all is well with soccer in Africa. Why is there no footballer from either eastern or southern Africa? Noth Africa may be excused as an Egyptian won the award in 2008 besides the point that Algeria is representing Africa at the FIFA 2010 World Cup Tournament in South Africa.
Egypt was the first African country to participate in the World Cup when they played in Italy in 1934. In 2002 FIFA ranked Tunisia the second best football team in Africa and the 29th best team in the world. On the other hand Morocco was the first African team to win a group at the World Cup and was also the first African team to make it to second round.
When was the last time an eastern African team excelled on the international soccer pitch? It is said that poor management and the hiring of the wrong coaches is to blame. Right now Kenya football Federation is embrioled in a row with Football Kenya Limited over who should run soccer matters in Kenya. The East African nation has from time to time been suspended by FIFA from tournaments for contravening the rules and regulations of football clubs. This is also the only country in which under-performing coaches earn good salaries as the teams they should be guiding continue to be humiliated by every foreign team it encounters.
Many former supporters of Kenya’s Harambee Stars no longer care whether there should be a national team in their country; they are perfectly all right supporting European Premier League teams that bring magic to their television screens.