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Goal.com profiles the 10 stars who have the opportunity to be crowned the continents top player in 2011

SPECIAL
By Kent Mensah

The Confederation of African Football (Caf) has announced the nominees for the 2011 African Player of the Year awards, and the 10 shortlisted players include four-time winner Samuel Eto'o of Cameroon, Ivory Coast duo Didier Drogba and Yaya Toure, Asamoah Gyan of Ghana and Morocco's Adel Taarabt.

The others who received the nod are Ghana midfielders Andre Ayew and Kevin-Prince Boateng, Moussa Sow of Senegal, Mali's Seydou Keita and another Ivorian, Gervinho.

The players were named based on their performances and contribution at club and national level during the year under review, and the eventual winner will be revealed on December 22 in Ghana's capital, Accra, after the list has been trimmed down to three.

Goal.com takes a look at the 10 African players that made the cut for the 2011 African Player of the Year award.

ANDRE AYEW (Olympique Marseille & Ghana)
Ghana's charismatic midfielder and son of football legend Abedi Pele has carved a niche for himself since 2009 when he led a new generation of young Ghanaians to clinch Africa’s first under-20 World Cup title.

Ayew helped Olympique Marseille to a second place finish in France's Ligue 1 last season; he won the League Cup and the Super Cup and was voted the club’s best player by the supporters.

KEVIN-PRINCE BOATENG (AC Milan & Ghana)
The solid midfielder was flaunted as Ghana’s World Cup hero, and although he has done little for the Black Stars since the World Cup, having now retired from international duty, his efforts with AC Milan have been immense.

He played 34 matches in Serie A last season, helping the Rossoneri to win the Scudetto and standing out as one of the best players throughout the season, contributing blood and sweat in the club's midfield to excellent effect.

DIDIER DROGBA (Chelsea & Ivory Coast)
The Ivorian striker was inconsistent last season due to injuries and tactical choices, but the little that was seen of the veteran was certainly impressive. Drogba netted 12 times in the English Premier League and inspired his team on many occasions.

At the national team level, the Elephants captain bagged four goals in their 2012 Afcon qualifying campaign to earn them a ticket to Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. He is not new to this prize, which he won in 2006 and 2009.

SAMUEL ETO'O (Anzhi Makhachkala & Cameroon)
The 30-year-old is a four-time recipient of this award. Eto’o is an exceptional player and regarded as a global football ambassador for Africa.

The striker managed four goals in the Afcon qualifiers for Cameroon, but that was not enough to secure qualification. He was Inter's most in-form striker last term, scoring 21 Serie A goals, five in the Coppa Italia and eight in the Uefa Champions League before his move to Anzhi Makhachkala.

ASAMOAH GYAN (Al Ain & Ghana)
The 25-year-old is Ghana’s top striker at the moment, and was a constant threat for the Black Stars in international matches, memorably scoring in a 1-1 draw with England in London.

At club level, 'Baby Jet' was a revelation in his first Premier League season. Prior to his surprise loan move to Al Ain, Gyan scored 11 goals in 33 matches for Sunderland in all competitions.

GERVINHO (Arsenal & Ivory Coast)
The Ivorian recorded 15 goals and 10 assists last season to give his former club Lille their first trophy in 47 years. He was instrumental in helping the Ligue 1 outfit to win the French Cup ahead of his move to Arsenal this year, where he has looked in fine form.

He scored three goals in the 2012 Afcon qualifiers to help Ivory Coast gain a ticket to Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

SEYDOU KEITA (Barcelona & Mali)
The Malian is one of Africa’s finest. His role with the Spanish giants has helped shape his career. He won his second Champions League trophy with Barcelona this year. He also won his third consecutive La Liga title.

Other medals in his cabinet include the European Super Cup while finishing as a runner-up in the Copa del Rey. Keita also contributed to his national team, helping Mali to secure a spot at the 2012 Afcon.

MOUSSA SOW (Lille & Senegal)
The 25-year-old France-born Senegalese striker won the French championship and French Cup with Lille last season. He scored 25 goals in the championship, including two hat-tricks.

He stood out in the Teranga Lions' Afcon qualifiers with five goals to his name, allowing Senegal to top their group and qualify for the tournament ahead of the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon.

ADEL TAARABT (QPR & Morocco)
The 22-year-old was immense during Queens Park Rangers’ campaign to gain promotion to the prestigious Premier League. Taarabt continues to make a difference in the EPL for his side.

The Morocco international scored in their final 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Tanzania and was voted Man of the Match as he helped earn the Afcon ticket for the Atlas Lions.

YAYA TOURE (Manchester City & Ivory Coast)
The 28-year-old is heavily tipped as the favourite for the 2011 African Player of the Year award. He is one of the pivotal players at Manchester City, helping his side to win the FA Cup last season. He scored against Manchester United in the semi-final to progress to the final and found the match-winner against Stoke City.

Toure has been splendid in his country’s path to the 2012 Afcon, giving his best in every game he plays.


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