By RON FANFAIR
Ghanaian Asamoah Gyan is this year’s British Broadcasting Company’s (BBC) African Soccer Player of the Year.
The 25-year-old striker, who plays for Sunderland in the English league, received more than half of the votes to finish well ahead of fellow Ghanaian Andre Ayew, Cameroonian Samuel Eto’o and Ivorians Yaya Toure and Didier Drogba.
“I am so happy, I can’t believe it,” said an elated Gyan who has made 46 appearances and scored 22 goals for his country in the last seven years. “I am so thankful to all the fans who voted for me. It’s really hard to win this award, especially because of all the other players I was up against. So I am so appreciative to all my fans in Africa, especially my family and fans in Ghana.”
Gyan enjoyed an excellent year, leading Ghana to second place at the Africa Cup of Nations in Angola. He scored three of the four goals that helped his country reach its first final in 18 years.
At the South Africa World Cup last summer, Gyan grabbed the spotlight as his three goals helped Ghana progress to the quarter-finals. He however missed a penalty with the last kick of the game against Uruguay that would have propelled Ghana into the semi-finals.
Despite the disappointment, his signing with Sunderland last August netted a record £13 million.
“Asamoah has been a fantastic addition to the Sunderland squad,” said club coach Steve Bruce who presented him with the award last Friday. “As our record signing, he had a lot of expectation placed on his shoulders, but he has embraced the club wholeheartedly and has settled in very well.
“He is a strong and quick player who brings something different to the side. He has formed positive partnerships with other strikers and he’s a real bright spark around the place too, always smiling and happy. He has an infectious joy for soccer and we are reaping the rewards of that. I am thrilled for Asamoah that he has been awarded this honour.”
The Zambian government, meanwhile, dispatched a six-member delegation to the International Soccer Federation last weekend to discuss the country’s soccer crisis.
The country has two parallel administrations claiming legitimacy over the running of the sport. Businessman Andrew Kamanga heads one faction while 1988 African Soccer Player of the Year Kalusha Bwalya insists he’s the legitimate president of the association.