Recent months and competitions have provided this year’s candidates for African player of the year and this year has produced a much closer competition than usual.
The last three years have seen Man City’s Ivorian Yaya Toure claim the prize for Africa’s most prestigious individual, but the powerful attacking midfielder has failed to take the footballing world by storm in usual fashion. Toure obliterated his opposition in claiming last year’s award with 373 points – which was 108 points more than second- placed Nigerian John Obi Mikel of Chelsea. However, many players from the hottest continent in football have proved worthy of consideration of 2014’s award.
Let’s see some of the players in the running for this years award.
Yaya Toure (Man City, Ivory Coast)
Manchester City’s beast has been nominated consecutively over the past years and has taken the CAF accolade on multiple occasions, easily besting any opposition in becoming the best African attacker of his generation.
A box to box player, Toure has boasted great power, technical ability and intelligence to his game, which has helped elevate Man City to the no. 1 team in England, and the Ivory Coast as Africa’s finest representation.
A dip in form and a lack of international success will mean Toure’s opponents in Enyeama may edge in points when it comes to his contribution here, however, Yaya Toure still remains one of the likeliest to lift this accolade based on his individual contribution alone.
Gervinho (Roma, Ivory Coast)
Gervinho is a player who has found his form once again, and in his first season for AS Roma very quickly reminded the European football why he is considered to be among the best African footballers out there.
His contribution to the newly-improved Roma has been indispensable, with 12 goals in 37 appearances for his club last term. He notched up two goals in the world cup also as he became one of their stars in Brazil. Gervinho has managed to illustrate his ability against Roma and Ivory Coast’s bigger opponents, and has scored some memorable goals against CKSA Moscow and Colombia.
With Ivory Coast as arguably Africa’s best team, 27 year old Gervinho has proved that he can compete at the highest level for both club and country.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (B.Dortmund, Gabon)
Aubameyang has also notched up some important goals for his club, heading home a sublime effort against Bayern Munich as Dortmund beat their bitter rivals. Since then he has proved a good replacement to the recently departed goalscorer in Lewandowski , scoring 13 goals in his début season for Dortmund.
A product of AC Milan’s youth academy, Aubameyang has become the regular spearhead in attack, and has continuously looked to silence critics with impressive performances, such as his hat-trick on his Bundesliga début against Augsburg. He currently captains the Gabon national team, who with Aubameyang’s help are seeing their FIFA rank rise.
Arguably the best shot stopper currently originating from Africa, Enyeama has enjoyed one of his most successful years of his career and will be a serious contender for Africa’s top player this year, which will be the first time a keeper has been considered.
Enyeama’s achievements speaks for himself: 11 consecutive clean sheets, with 21 clean sheets altogether which saw him named Ligue 1 African Player of the Season. He put in a few game-winning performances as he captained Nigeria into second place in Brazil 2014’s group stages.
Yacine Brahimi (Porto, Algeria)
Brahimi has become Algeria’s success story and this international team will be glad the Under-21 French international opted to represent his country origin. Brahimi scored against South Korea as Algeria came second to qualify past the group stages in Brazil for the first time in their history and they have already qualified for next year’s installment of the African Cup of Nations with Brahimi as their top goalscorer.
Brahimi has been just as instrumental for his clubs, with equally impressive displays in the French and Spanish leagues with Rennes and Granada CF respectively and has valiantly earned the nomination in the hope that he will emulate the same success as his fellow Algerian, Porto player and 1980’s star Rabah Madjer, who won African player of the year in 1987.
If there is one thing that nominations this year tells us, it’s that African football is on the up and is beginning to produce more world-class players that can take Europe by storm.
Good Luck to all nominees!
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