By RON FANFAIR
Cameroon captain Samuel Eto’o is among five candidates for this year’s British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) African Soccer Player of the Year award.
The striker netted 21 goals for Italian side Inter Milan before leaving for Russia’s Anzhi Makhackala in August where he has posted seven goals in eight matches.
Eto’o scored over 100 goals in five seasons with FC Barcelona, and is also the record holder in number of appearances by an African player in La Liga. Last season, he became the first player to win two European Continental Trebles following his back-to-back achievements with Barcelona and Internazionale.
He is the most decorated African player of all time having won the African Player of the Year award a record four times in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2010.
The other candidates are Ivorians Yaya Toure and Gervinho, Ghanaian Andre Ayew and Mali’s Seydou Keita.
Toure, who plays for Manchester City and Arsenal midfielder Gervinho played pivotal roles in helping Ivory Coast qualify for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations. Toure scored the winner for Manchester City in their Football Association Cup win while Gervinho – who has represented his country 27 times since 2007 – was instrumental in Lille’s double in France before he moved to Arsenal this season.
Ayew, the son of three-time African Soccer Player of the Year, Abedi Pele, helped Marseille win the French League Cup and Super Cup while Keita was part of Barcelona’s historic Champions League winning team.
The shortlist was determined by a panel comprising experts across Africa who took into consideration individual skill, technical ability, teamwork, consistency, impact on results and fair play.
The winner will be announced on December 16.
Previous winners include Ghanaians Asamoah Gyan, Michael Essien and Sammy Kuffour; Nigeria’s Jay Jay Okocha, who is the only player to win the award twice; Didier Drogba of the Ivory Coast and Togo’s Emmanuel Adebayor.