Once Africa's finest yet not anymore, Didier Drogba has earned a surprise nomination for the Caf Player of the Year gong. Goal explains why he hasn't earned it
By Sammie Frimpong
African football's governing body never seems to tire making a mockery of themselves and their decisions.
Its latest faux pas has to do with the freshly released 10-man list for the 2013 African Player of the Year award that sees at least a handful of genuinely in-form African footballers omitted at the expense of veteran Ivorian international Didier Drogba.
It is hard to fault Drogba, really. Any other year, the 35-year-old would have topped this shortlist and few would have had any qualms with his nomination. That the former Olympique Marseille star has claimed the prize twice in the past says much about the kind of player he has been.
Really, though, that is arguably all there is to it now: the kind of player he has been.
What Drogba once was, he just is not anymore. The glory and awing excellence of his Chelsea days is simply non-existent today. Drogba had spent some of the last 12 months or so on fruitless adventures in the Far East with Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua, before staging a return to Europe with Galatasaray where he currently plays. His best performances for the Turkish club both domestically and in the Uefa Champions League, however, have come in spasms and flashes.
On the Ivorian national team, Drogba's formerly powerful influence has waned, with Les Elephants coach Sabri Lamouchi using him relatively sparingly in recent games in favour of some emerging young guns.
What Drogba once was, he just is not anymore. The glory and awing excellence of his Chelsea days is simply non-existent today
To state quite simply, where Drogba's star once glowed brightly, it only now flickers.
And yet Caf, in its latest act of barely rational logic, deems him a worthier contender of the continent's top individual prize than Kwadwo Asamoah who starred for Juventus in the club's Scudetto-winning campaign last season, or even exciting young forward Mohamed Salah whose exploits for Egypt and Swiss outfit FC Basel in the year under review have been absolutely fantastic.
In nominating Drogba, then, exactly what do Caf seek to reward?
A reputation long buried in the past?
Or actual present value?
It certainly would be reasonable were the latter the real motive. Sadly, though, it does not seem so.