Zambia’s captain, Christopher Katongo, is the British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) African Soccer Player of the Year.
“This is a fantastic moment for me,” said Katongo shortly after the announcement was made last Monday. “I thank the people who voted for me and it’s something I will never forget in my career. This means a lot for the young people and the young players who look up to me. I could not have achieved this without the support of my teammates.”
Katongo, who plays his club soccer in China, received just over 40 per cent of the votes.
“I think the things they (the fans) like about me is my discipline and that I am the kind of player who can fail one day but pull up his socks and keep going,” said Katongo. “I think that is why they voted for me.”
He led Zambia to its first Africa Cup of Nations title last February.
In other soccer news, South Africa’s Soccer Association (SAFA) president and four other administrators have been suspended in the aftermath of match-fixing allegations.
Kirsten Nematanfani, chief executive officer Dennis Mumble and three others have been relieved of their duties while an investigation takes place in regards to their alleged part in the fixing of four friendly matches that South Africa played prior to the 2010 World Cup.
An International Soccer Federation (FIFA) investigation into convicted Singaporean match-fixer Wilson Perumal and his Football 4U organization implicated the five South African officials. The results of the matches against Thailand, Bulgaria, Colombia and Guatemala in the weeks leading up to the 2010 World Cup were found to have been pre-arranged to benefit an Asian betting syndicate.
SAFA vice-president, Chief Mwelo Nonkonyana, will act as interim president.
“This is a difficult situation for the association and for those who have been named in the report,” said Nonkonyana. “We hope there will be no speculation about their presumed guilt or otherwise. We need to allow the investigation to take place speedily and fairly so those that are innocent can be separated from those who are not.”
Several big names have been left out of the Ghanaian provisional 26-member squad for next month’s Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa, starting on January 13.
Ex-captain John Mensah and Michael Essien are the notable omissions. Mensah is without a club after being released by the French side Lyon while Essien asked to be left out in order to focus on his club career at Real Madrid.
Coach Kwesi Appiah will reduce the squad to 23 after a training camp in the United Arab Emirates where Ghana will play warm-up games against Tunisia and Egypt.
Four-time Africa Cup of Nations champion Ghana last won the title two decades ago when they defeated Libya 7-6 on penalty kicks.