Crowning glory for Africa’s best: Yaya, Ayew, and Aubameyang vie

The 2015 African Player of the Year is set to be announced on Thursday evening in Abuja, Nigeria.

Friday January 8 2016

Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure speaks after being declared winner of CAF African Footballer of the Year Award in Lagos on January 9, 2014. Toure is vying for the top continent’s football gong in 2016 alongside Andre Ayew of Ghana and Swansea City and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Borussia Dortmund and Gabon. PHOTO | PIUS UTOMI EKPEI |

Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure speaks after being declared winner of CAF African Footballer of the Year Award in Lagos on January 9, 2014. Toure is vying for the top continent’s football gong in 2016 alongside Andre Ayew of Ghana and Swansea City and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Borussia Dortmund and Gabon. PHOTO | PIUS UTOMI EKPEI | AFP

By DAVID KWALIMWA
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The 2015 African Player of the Year is set to be announced on Thursday evening in Abuja, Nigeria.

Vying for the top continent’s football gong were Andre Ayew of Ghana and Swansea City, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon, Borussia Dortmund) and Yaya Toure (Cote d’Ivoire, Manchester City).

The trio made the final shortlist on November.

FAVOURITES

Toure and Aubameyang were considered the front runners with Ayew given an outside chance of winning the award.

Toure, who has won the past four African Player of the Year awards, plies his trade at English giants City where he has had a solid performance.

The Ivorian was also the key player during his country’s march to the title at the African Nations Cup in Equatorial Guinea last year.

(READ: Yaya Toure wins fourth straight African Player of Year award)

Aubameyang flopped during the Nations Cup but has starred for Borrusia Dortmund in Germany, scoring an average of a goal every other game this season.

For the African-Based Player of the Year category, Algeria and Etoile du Sahel’s Baghdad Bounedjah, alongside TP Mazembe’s duo of Tanzania’s Mbwana Samatta and DR Congo’s goalkeeper Robert Kidiaba were in competition to bag the award.

VOTING

The winners are decided by votes of the coaches or Technical directors of the National Associations affiliated to Caf.

Acting president of Fifa and Caf Alhaji Issa Hayatou was the event’s chief guest leading a delegation world and continental football executives.

Other categories featured in this year’s event include Women’s National Team of The Year, Women’s Footballer of The Year, Most Promising Talent, Referee of The Year, Legend of The year, Fair Play Award, Platinum Award, which has only one nominee, and Africa Finest

Kenya and Southampton’s Victor Wanyama made it to the initial 37-man list for best player, but was eliminated in the next round when 10 players were picked.

They were in November reduced to the best three.

LUIS SUAREZ

Meanwhile, Barcelona striker Luis Suarez faces a ban of up to three Copa del Rey matches after being cited in the referee’s report for calling Espanyol players “a waste of space” at the end of a heated Catalan derby.

Barca won the first leg of the Copa de Rey last-16 tie between the sides 4-1 on Wednesday as Espanyol had two players sent-off and were lucky to escape further punishment as goalkeeper Pau Lopez’s violent stamp on Lionel Messi went unseen.

However, it is Suarez, who was also booked for a clash with Lopez, who is expected to receive a one to three-game Cup ban for sparking a brawl in the tunnel after the game that security personnel had to break up.

The referee report indicated that Suarez provoked the clash.

Whilst all the Espanyol players climbed the stairs in the tunnel towards the dressing rooms, he (Suarez) waited for them and confronted them saying on various occasions: “Here I am waiting for you, come here; you are a waste of space,” referee Juan Martinez Munuera wrote in his report.

“That provoked a clash between players from both clubs forcing security personnel present and the managerial staff from both teams to intervene.”

Espanyol’s physical approach had frustrated Barca in an equally fiery clash between the two in La Liga on Saturday which finished 0-0.

And Barcelona boss Luis Enrique praised the referee’s more strict approach to Espanyol’s roughhouse tactics in midweek, comparing the visitors’ style to American football.

Suarez’s controversial career has seen him receive four long bans; three for biting opponents and once for allegedly racially abusing French defender Patrice Evra during his time at Liverpool.

Yet, the Uruguayan’s behaviour since joining Barcelona 18 months ago has been exemplary and a suspension would be his first since the four-month ban he received for his latest bite on Giorgio Chiellini at the 2014 World Cup.

(Additional reporting by AFP)

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