The annual CAF Awards enters its 27th edition this year and the Awards Gala will take place for the first time in Dakar, the capital of Senegal.
On Tuesday, 8 January 2019; the King of African football will be crowned at the Centre International de conférences Abdou Diouf (CICAD) in Dakar, amongst the trio of last year’s winner, Mohamed Salah of Egypt, 2015 winner Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Gabon and Senegalese Sadio Mane.
From 1992 to 2017, from Ghana’s Abedi Pele to Salah, 17 players have laid claim to the most prestigious individual honour in African football.
Cameroonian Samuel Eto’o was the first to be crowned on four occasions – 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2010; a record since equalled by Ivorian Yaya Toure, who made it four wins on the trot (2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014). Former Senegal forward, El Hadji Diouf also won the award twice in a row; 2001 and 2002.
However, the first player to have been named CAF African Player of the Year on two occasions was ex-Nigeria captain, Nwankwo Kanu, in 1996 and 1999. The feat was replicated by Ivorian icon Didier Drogba in 2006 and 2009.
Winners of the prestigious honour have come from either the midfield or attack; and that tradition will be respected yet again this time, with the three contenders being attackers.
In addition, the 17 players to have been decorated since 1992, have and continue to remain amongst the foremost African ambassadors of the world’s most popular sport.
There are also several others who were so near and yet so far, including Ivorian goalkeeper Alain Gouamene in 1992; Moroccan defender Noureddine Naybet (sixth in 1993); Nigerian Daniel Amokachi, who regularly featured among the top ten (10) during his hey days, whilst Chadian Japhet N’Doram was virtually handicapped by the non-presence of his national team at the final phase of a major continental championship.
South African defender, Mark Fish also settled for sixth position in 1996. Ghanaian defender Samuel Kuffour narrowly missed out on two occasions, 1999 and 2001.
Others are Michael Essien of Ghana, who made the final three an unprecedented five times in a row – 2005 (third), 2006 (third), 2007 (second), 2008 (third) and 2009 (third); Asamoah Gyan, also from Ghana, 2010 (second); Andre Ayew (Ghana), 2011 (third) & 2015 (third) and Malian Seydou Keita, 2011 (second). So are Nigerian duo, John Obi Mikel and Vincent Enyeama, who finished second and third in 2013 and 2014 respectively.
When the roll call for the laureates is launched, there is one noticeable observation. Cote d’Ivoire is the country which has the biggest number of triumphs, six in total, Toure (four) and Drogba (two); followed by Nigeria on five titles, two for Kanu, one each for Emmanuel Amunike, Rashidi Yekini and Victor Ikpeba.
Patrick Mboma won it once coupled with Eto’o’s four also gives Cameroon five titles. Diouf is responsible for the only two titles in the name of Senegal. One-time winners include Ghana – Abedi Pele, Liberia – George Weah (the only African player to have been crowned FIFA World Footballer of the Year), Morocco – Mustapha Hadji, Mali – Frederic Kanoute and Togo – Emmanuel Adebayor (Togo), Aubameyang (Gabon), Mahrez (Algeria) and Mohamed Salah (Egypt).
Another common feature is that all winners plied their trade in Europe at the time of their coronation.
On the other hand, the Women’s Player of the Year has been dominated by Nigeria since its inception in 2001. The Super Falcons have contributed four Queens of African Football – Mercy Akide, Perpetua Nkwocha, Cynthia Uwak and Asisat Oshoala.
Akide was the first to be crowned queen of the African game whilst Nkwocha was decorated a record four times (2004, 2005, 2010, 2011), a record Oshoala is one shy of after triumphs in 2014, 2016 and 2017. Uwak also won back-to-back titles (2006, 2007).
Ghana has two titles – Alberta Sackey (2002) and Adjoa Bayor (2003); with South Africa, Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon boasting of one crown each in Noko Matlou (2008), Genoveva Anonma (2012) and Gaelle Enganamouit (2015) respectively.
This year, Oshoala will be hoping to equal the four titles record of her compatriot Nkwocha. However, she faces stiff challenges from compatriot Francisa Ordega and South African Chrestinah Thembi Kgatlana.
For the second time in a row, energy giants, Aiteo, are the headline sponsors.
Player of the Year
1992 Abedi AYEW PELE (Ghana)
1993 Rashidi YEKINI (Nigeria)
1994 Emmanuel AMUNIKE (Nigeria)
1995 George WEAH (Liberia)
1996 Nwankwo KANU (Nigeria)
1997 Victor IKPEBA (Nigeria)
1998 Mustapha HADJI (Morocco)
1999 Nwankwo KANU (Nigeria)
2000 Patrick MBOMA (Cameroon)
2001 El-Hadji DIOUF (Senegal)
2002 El Hadji DIOUF (Senegal)
2003 Samuel ETO’O (Cameroon)
2004 Samuel ETO’O (Cameroon)
2005 Samuel ETO’O (Cameroon)
2006 Didier DROGBA (Côte d’Ivoire)
2007 Frederic KANOUTE (Mali)
2008 Emmanuel ADEBAYOR (Togo)
2009 Didier DROGBA (Côte d’Ivoire)
2010 Samuel ETO’O (Cameroon)
2011 Yaya TOURE (Côte d’Ivoire)
2012 Yaya TOURE (Côte d’Ivoire)
2013 Yaya TOURE (Côte d’Ivoire)
2014 Yaya TOURE (Côte d’Ivoire)
2015 Pierre-Emerick AUBAMEYANG (Gabon)
2016 Riyad MAHREZ (Algeria)
2017 Mohamed SALAH (Egypt)
Women’s Player of the Year
2001 Mercy AKIDE (Nigeria)
2002 Alberta SACKEY (Ghana)
2003 Adjoa BAYOR (Ghana)
2004 Perpetua NKWOCHA (Nigeria)
2005 Perpetua NKWOCHA (Nigeria)
2006 Cynthia UWAK (Nigeria)
2007 Cynthia UWAK (Nigeria)
2008 Noko MATLOU (South Africa)
2009 Not awarded
2010 Perpetua NKWOCHA (Nigeria)
2011 Perpetua NKWOCHA (Nigeria)
2012 Genoveva ANONMAM (Equatorial Guinea)
2013 Not awarded
2014 Asisat OSHOALA (Nigeria)
2015 Gaëlle ENGANAMOUIT (Cameroon)
2016 Asisat OSHOALA (Nigeria)
2017 Asisat OSHOALA (Nigeria)