The 23rd edition of the annual Glo-CAF Awards hold today in Lagos, with Super Eagles Captain and Goalkeeper, Vincent Enyeama, in hunt for the 2014 African Player of Year Award for the first time.
Enyeama has hat-trick winner, Yaya Toure of Cote d’ Ivoire to contend with and also Ganonese forward, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Left to Nigerians, Enyeama should be crowned the King of African football at the event billed for the Eko Convention Centre in Lagos.
From 1992 to 2013, from Ghana ’s Abedi Pele to Ivorien Toure, 14 players have won the most prestigious individual honour in African football, with Nigeria having the enviable record of five wins from four different players.
Cameroonian Samuel Eto’o has won the award an unprecedented four times (2003, 2004, 2005 and 2010), whilst Toure has a hat-trick of titles (2011, 2012, 2013). Former Senegal forward, El Hadji Diouf won the award twice in a row; 2001 and 2002.
However, the first player to win the award on two occasions remain ex-Super Eagles captain, Nwankwo Kanu, in 1996 and 1999 before Ivorien Didier Drogba duplicated the feat in 2006 and 2009.
Winners of the prestigious honour have come from either the midfield or attack; and that tradition will either be respected yet again or broken for the first time with a goalkeeper, Enyeama, amongst the contenders.
Will Enyeama become the first goalkeeper to win the award and there by ends Nigeria’s 16 years wait for the award?
Enyeama is considered the best goalkeeper in the continent today. His performance at last summer’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil gave credence to this, as his performance earned the team a second round qualification since 1998 that Nigeria got past the group stage. He was outstanding for his French Ligue 1 side, Lille, last season where they nick-named him “Jesus in goal” for failing to concede in 11 league matches. Enyeama got his reward for club last week, as he won the best goalie in Ligue 1 for 2014 by a prestigious French Newspaper, L’Equipe and also won the RFI – FRANCE 24 Marc-Vivien Foé Award for the best African player in the French Ligue 1 football championship for the 2013-14 season.
Enyeama was an ever-present in a Lille side that finished third in Ligue 1 last season, helping the club to the UEFA Champions League preliminary stages where it lost to Porto. But he failed to qualify Nigeria for this year’s Africa Cup of Nations starting in Equatorial Guinea 17 January.
On the other hand, Yaya Toure, helped Man City to win the English Premier League. He qualified his coutry for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nation, though he failed to lead the team past group stage of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil .
Aubameyang is the only dark horse in the race. After his maiden Bundesliga campaign with Borrussia Dortmund where he scored 13 goals, the player has failed to re-enact his last season’s feat. He has struggled to find the back of the net, scoring just five times in 17 appearances for Dortmund.