Goal.com Special: CAF African Player Of The Year Award - The 10 Nominees

After the 10 nominees for the African Player Of The Year Award were announced, Goal.com decided to take a look at the candidates who will be vying for the continent’s ultimate personal prize.
Madjid Bougherra (Rangers/Algeria)

The man affectionately referred to as "Magic" by Rangers and Fennecs fans is just that, a magician with the ball at his feet. Bougherra is not one to be constricted by his position as a center back and, throughout his career, has gone on some mesmerising marauding runs forward, often scoring himself or setting up a team-mate.

He helped Rangers win back to back SPL titles in 2009 and 2010 and also played a pivotal role in helping Algeria qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 26 years, as well as finishing fourth at the African Cup of Nations in Angola. At 27, you could call him a late bloomer, but one gets the sense that there's plenty more to come from the Dijon native.

Samuel Eto'o (Inter Milan/Cameroon)

Even after capturing a record three consecutive African Footballer of the Year Awards between 2003 and 2005, Cameroon international and Inter Milan striker Samuel Eto’o remains a force to be reckoned with in the continent’s football, hence his name keeps reappearing as a contender for recognition that some local pundits say he’s even tired of receiving. Eto’o heaped resounding glories upon himself in the year in question for the award – 2009-10.

Despite the Indomitable Lions’ unexpected debacle at the 2010 World Cup, much of what the 29-year-old player acquired in the course of the season still glitters, even in the dusk of his severest critics. The Serie A title, Coppa Italia, Supercoppa Italiana and UEFA Champions League were all amongst his prizes last season. Eto’o had the sun in his backyard during the last campaign, and many would agree that he is a strong candidate to succeed reigning African Footballer of the Year Didier Drogba.

Samuel Eto'o Won It All With Inter

Andre Ayew (Olympique Marseille/Ghana)

The 22-year-old has developed with time to deserve such an accolade from CAF for the 2010 African Player of the Year Award. The charismatic midfielder was a force to reckon with during the Africa Nations Cup in Angola and even scored the only goal against Burkina Faso that saw Ghana through to the quarter-final. He dazzled at the 2010 World Cup.

The performance of the son of the African football legend Abedi Ayew kept improving in every game and became a thorn in the flesh of his opposite numbers. He has gained a starting place at club level since and this compliment arrives at the perfect time to spur him on, although he may be too young still to win it.

Didier Drogba (Chelsea/Ivory Coast)

Reigning African Footballer of the Year Didier Drogba jumps in the race to succeeding himself, dragging along a big bag bloated with team and personal successes during the last season. Many pundits say the election will tighten around Eto’o and Drogba, but who will edge the other? Drogba’s achievements in the previous season are outstanding enough to speak for himself in the hearts of voters.

Premier League title, FA Cup, Premier League Golden Boot – Highest goal scorer, West Africa Footballer of the Year, name it and he’s got it. Being the top scorer of Europe’s most prestigious league – the EPL, will be a strong motivation for those who decide to cast a vote in favour of the 32-year-old Ivorian, despite his national team and personal exploits with the Elephants barely living up to expectation at the 2010 World Cup.

Drogba & Kalou Are Candidates For The Award

Solomon Kalou (Chelsea/Ivory Coast)

Salomon Kalou has enjoyed the same successes cascading down on him from club side Chelsea as compatriot Didier Drogba has over the last season in the Premier League. But perhaps the 25-year-old needs more personal feats to be able to attract broader attention to himself, and there is still time for growth in his football career.

He is more or less a young prince both at Chelsea and Cote D’Ivoire, battling to be enthroned in the midst of still living kings and patrons. However, voters may consider his sharp and sturdy talent of cutting fearlessly into any defence. The future opens bright for the Ivorian.

Asamoah Gyan (Sunderland/Ghana)

Ghana’s striking sensation shouldered the burden of producing results for a depleted Ghana side at the continental football showpiece in Angola, and was very consistent for the national side over the past year. The ever-smiling 24-year-old was the shining light of the west African nation at the World Cup and bagged three goals for his sterling effort. The most expensive player of English Premiership side Sunderland is Ghana’s best hope of winning the CAF award, and perhaps he will make a surprise climb into the top three African footballers’ podium.

Gyan In Ghana's Best Hope For The Award

Ahmed Hassan (Al Ahly/Egypt)

The evergreen midfield general has been playing for so long that it's hard to imagine a time when he wasn't putting in incredible performances for the Pharaohs. He's been a large part of Egypt's  unprecedented three successive AFCON titles but his latest success in Angola 2010 was certainly the most memorable as the former Anderlecht playmaker broke Hossam Hassan's record for most international caps and also scored three crucial goals for his country on their way to lifting the trophy.

His 2010 didn't end as well as it started though as he suffered an ACL tear in a match against Sierra Leone. It is telling of his importance that Egypt have since struggled without him and can't wait for him to return soon. Hassan is only two starts away from from breaking former Saudi Arabian goalkeeper Mohamed Al-Deayea's world record of international caps.

Mohamed Nagy Gedo (Al-Ahly/Egypt)

Literally the man that burst onto the African scene out of nowhere. With Mido and Zaki lacking fitness in the leadup to Angola 2010, Hassan Shehata took a chance on the youngster who was then plying his trade for the Ittihad Alexandria and was handsomely rewarded for taking such a risk. Gedo responded by finishing as the tournament's top scorer with five goals, including the one that one the Pharaohs the trophy in their final game against Ghana.

Amazingly, Gedo did this while starting every match from the bench to become an overnight superstar in his country and a remarkable example to African youngsters across the continent. His performances helped him seal a move to Egyptian giants Al-Ahly but if his strike rate remains steady, one would imagine he'll be in Europe sooner rather than later.

Prince Boateng (Milan/Ghana)

The central midfielder was Ghana’s World Cup star in South Africa. The AC Milan player who is full of strength, skill and commitment made Michael Essien’s absence at the World Cup less felt. He caught the eyes of the world with his debut Ghana goal against the USA. Until the World Cup he was considered a German, but switched allegiance to join the four-time African champions.

That decision paid off as it gave him the chance to play at the global fiesta for the first time and attracted the radars of Milan so that he could leave relegated English Premiership side Portsmouth. His season at club level was less than stellar due to relegation, but his individual performances were often impressive, and for Ghana he was a revelation in South Africa.

Kevin Prince Boateng Impressed At The World Cup

Seydou Keita (FC Barcelona/Mali)

Seydou Keita had a stunning season with Barcelona during the 2009/2010 campaign and his national team Mali during the 2010 World Cup/AFCON qualifiers. Keita starred in the Catalan team that won a number of trophies last year. He was in the team that won the 2009 UEFA Champions League, FIFA Club World Cup and all the Spanish trophies in the 2008/2009 and 2009/2010 season.During the two seasons, the midfielder scored six goals and had a number of assists.

On the international stage, after assisting Mali to the 2010 African Cup of Nations finals in Angola, Keita scored 2 goals, both in the 4-4 draw against Angola in an amazing comeback performance during the opening match of the tournament.

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