Yaya Beats Mikel To Win 2013 African Player Of The Year As Nigeria Sweeps CAF Awards

Ivorian Midfielder, Yaya Toure, has beaten Nigerian Super Eagles and Chelsea FC midfielder, John Mikel Obi to win for the 3rd consecutive year, the coveted ‘African Footballer of the Year’ Award, at the Glo CAF Awards 2013 held in Lagos.

Mikel Obi was highly favoured by many Nigerians who saw his exploits and team successes with club and country in 2013 as the best credentials to claim the award which has eluded Nigerian footballers since Kanu Nwankwo won it in the year 1999.

While Nigeria confirmed its status as the number 1 footballing country on the African continent during the year 2013 by winning in five categories, the loss of the ultimate crown would cast a gloom on the other successes.

The Nigerian Super Eagles won the award for the ‘National Team of the Year’, while the national Under-17 team, Golden Eaglets, also won ‘Youth National Team of the Year’ at the Glo CAF Awards 2013.

Both teams had been expected by many pundits to claim the awards, having won major tournaments at continental and global levels during the year in review.

The Super Eagles won the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2013 for the first time in 19 years, while the Golden Eaglets won the 2013 FIFA Under-17 World Cup tournament in United Arab Emirates.

Golden Eaglets’ wonder kid, Kelechi Iheanacho, unsurprisingly won the ‘Most Promising Talent’ Award. Ihenacho was the most decorated at the 2013 FIFA Under-17 World Cup, winning the tournament’s Adidas Golden Ball Award for the overall best player, alongside the Silver Boot Award for being the second highest goal scorer, as he helped Nigeria to its 4th title to become the most successful team in the history of the age grade competition.

The Nigerian Super Eagles Coach, Stephen Keshi, was also named ‘African Coach of the Year’ for his exploits with the African Champions. Keshi became the first Nigerian to win the Nations’ Cup as player and coach, and only the second African coach to do so after Egypt’s Mahmoud El-Gohary.

Fair Play Award went to the Nigerian Supporters Club, globally popular for their constant playing of music and dancing while supporting the Nigerian national teams.

Other winners at the awards were Egyptian, Mohammed Aboutreika, who beat Nigeria’s African Nations’ Cup final hero, Sunday Mba, to win the ‘African Player of the Year based in Africa’, while the ‘Club of the Year’ went to Al Ahly FC of Egypt.

The ‘Referee of the Year’ award went to Algerian, Haimoudi Djamel, who officiated the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations Final between Nigeria and Burkina Faso, and also officiated the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup play-off for third place between Uruguay and Italy.

The African Team of the Year is made up of Vincent Enyeama (NIG), Ahmed Fathy (EGY), Mehdi (MOR), Kevin Constant (GUI), Mikel Obi (NIG), Mohammed Aboutreika (EGY), Yaya Toure (CIV), Jonathan Pitroipa (BFA), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (GAB), Emmanuel Emenike (NIG), Asamoah Gyan (GHA) Coach Stephen Keshi (NIG)

Five Nigerian players from the successful AFCON 2013 Eagles were nominated for the now lost ‘African Player of the Year’ Award; they include Emmanuel Emenike, Ahmed Musa, Mikel Obi, Sunday Mba and Vincent Enyeama.

Only Mikel Obi made the final 3 man nominees list alongside the 3rd time winner, Ivorian, Yaya Toure and his Ivorian counterpart, Didier Drogba.

Winners were announced in Lagos on January 9, 2014.

World Cup 2014: Q.Final Is The Realistic Target For Nigeria – Ochonogor

A Sport Analyst, Ochonogor Chimbiani, has cautioned that the pressure put on the Nigerian national football team; Super Eagles for the 2014 World Cup, however justifiable should be positively exploited.

Speaking on Channels Television’s Rubbin’ Minds on Sunday, Chimbiani gave an insight into her expectations for Nigerian football in the New Year, starting with the country’s debut appearance at the African Nations’ Championship, CHAN 2014 in January.

She stated that she expects that even as debutants, Nigeria should do well at the tournament, but she would not expect too much from the team. According to her although some key players like Nations Cup hero, Sunday Mba, can no longer feature for the team, Nigeria has enough talents, and coping without the likes of Mba would not be a problem.

She also expressed hope that 2014 would be the year when Nigeria gets its league management right, hoping that “good things will happen in 2014.”

Looking ahead to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Ochonogor believes that the pressure being put on Super Eagles Coach, Stephen Keshi is right and expected. According to her, the pressure was there when Keshi went to African Nation’s Cup and it inspired them to do better.

With Show Host, Ebuka arguing that the World Cup pressure is of a larger magnitude due to the expectations of Nigerians themselves, who want more of the AFCON success, Ochonogor admitted that the Semi-final target set for the team may be too much, but it is analytically realistic, as football is not mathematics and at the tournament anything can happen.

She advised that Keshi should pick the best of the players available to him and also get his preparations right. She encouraged that Africa can do something this time despite the presence of countries like Argentina, Brazil, and Spain who boast of fantastic players.

She also noted that the Nigerian team having no particular star player like Didier Drogba for Ivory Coast is not a problem but rather could be strength. According to her “team work is what is going for us in the Super Eagles”.

She added that a situation whereby the home based and foreign based players were willing to work together with a much disciplined Coach Keshi has been the key to the successes so far recorded; a system she expects to continue into the World Cup.

On the situation whereby many of the stand-out players of the African Cup of Nations, AFCON victory are not key players in their clubs, with the likes of Mikel Obi and Victor Moses not playing regularly and Sunday Mba just moving to a new club, Chimbiani said that Ivory Coast because of their major stars were tipped to win the AFCON but Nigeria won it.

She advised that Coach Keshi should open his doors to all players, including the ones he had abandoned like Chinedu Obasi, Osaze Odemwingie and Victor Nsofor to work with his AFCON team in order to pick his best squad.

On the possibility of Odemwingie returning to the team, Chimbiani said “I don’t think Keshi will (call him back) but I wish he does”.

Asked to give her verdict on Nigeria’s chances at the World Cup, she predicted a Quarter-Final finish as the realistic expectation.

Eagles Have Overcome Biggest Obstacle Says Keshi

Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi has promised that his team will not rest on their oars as attention is now focused on the team.

Keshi believes that his team has overcome the biggest obstacle in the competition.

Analysts say Nigeria has now emerged as the new title favourite, after the elimination of Cote d’Ivoire which had been largely tipped to win the tournament.

Football fans across the country have also described the Super Eagles’ victory over the tournament favourites as a good omen and a sign of better things to come

Nigeria is due to meet Mali in the first semi-final on Wednesday in Durban, while Ghana will take on Burkina Faso in Mbombela in the second semi-final on the same day.

AFCON 2013: Defence Is Super Eagles Biggest Challenge – Analyst

A sport analyst and roving sport editor of the Sun Newspaper, George Aluo on Monday said though the has been a significant improvement in the Super Eagles of Nigeria’s performance, the team still has to work on it defence.

Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, said being a defender himself, the Super Eagles Coach, Stephen Keshi should know how to organise his defence.

“The biggest Challenge in that team at the moment is our defence. We’ve always known it that the Eagles defence is very, very vulnerable and I think the earlier Keshi does something about it the better for us,” he said.

Davido and Chidinma win big at KORA Awards 2012

Two young Nigerian artistes; Davido and Chidinma ended the year 2012 with glorious winnings for the fledgling music industry at the just concluded KORA Awards.

The award cremony which was held in Abidjan, the capital of Cote d’Ivoire, awarded Davido-who was absent at the event-the award for ‘Best Male Newcomer’ while Chidinma, walked away with the ‘Best Female West African Act’ for her single ‘Kedike‘.

The penultimate winner of MTN Project Fame West Africa also enchanted the award ceremony with the performance of her hit track,and she was presented her award by former Chelsea footballer and Captain of the Ivorian national team, Didier Drogba.

Algerian Rai singer, Cheb Khaled was adjudged the Best North African artiste and French rap group; Sexion d’Assaut took the award for the “African diaspora” in Europe.

Nigerian pop duo; P Square also attended the awards and thrilled the audience with their energetic performance.

Africa’s and Nigeria’s richest man; Aliko Dangote was also honoured with a ‘Role Model Award.’

The annual award ceremony for African music which has not held for a number of years was delayed by several factors and the late arrival of American R&B singer, Chris Brown.

The award night was heavily criticized for its high cost: one million CFA francs (1,500 Euros, $2,000) for those who want a seat in the luxury hotel for the ceremony, or 50,000 CFA francs (75 Euros, $100) for seats outside, hence a very poor attendance.



Christopher Katongo Wins BBC African Footballer Of The Year

Zambia’s Christopher Katongo has been named the 2012 BBC African footballer of the year.

The 30-year-old Zambia captain beat off competition from Demba Ba, Didier Drogba, Younes Belhanda and Yaya Toure to become the first winner from southern Africa in the history of the award.

The shortlist for the award was drawn up by football experts from every country in Africa, who based their choices on players’ skill, technical ability, teamwork, consistency and fair play.

While all the players on the shortlist have enjoyed a superb year, with four of the players picking up silverware, it is Katongo whose performances and achievements have been considered by African football fans to be the greatest.

Ex- Nigerian international Jay-Jay Okocha remains the only player that has won the award back to back in 2003 and 2004 while playing for Bolton in the English premier league.


CAF shuns Nigeria in nomination for footballer of the year award

No Nigerian footballer is among the final shortlist for the 2012 CAF African Footballer of the year award.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) instead unveiled Ghana’s Andre Ayew, Cameroon’s Alex Song, Senegal’s Demba Ba and Ivorian duo of Didier Drogba and Yaya Toure for the award.

The final nominees were decided by votes from the head coaches and technical directors of the football associations affiliated to CAF.

The final event to announce the winner will be held on December 20 at the State Banquet Hall in Accra, Ghana.

Meanwhile the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has announced that January 9th 2013 has been set as the deadline for the submission of final squad list for the African Nations Cup.

CAF confirmed that the final 23-man squad must be sent to the organisation’s Cairo headquarters by midnight Wednesday, 9th January.

All 16 finalists are entitled to have a 23-man squad and a delegation of a further 17 officials

CAF Secretary General, Hicham Amrani warned that any list sent late will see the countries being fined and a player subtracted from their list.

Juventus D.G. says club is not interested in Drogba

Giuseppe Marotta the Director General of Italian giants Juventus has declared that the club does not have any interest whatsoever in signing former Chelsea forward now plying his trade for Shanghai Shenhua Didier Drogba.

Juventus we hear is said to be monitoring Roma’s Pablo Osvaldo and Athletic Bilbao’s Fernando Llorente.

Didier Drogba we hear is not happy in his new club and because of this the Ivory Coast international has been linked to Turin to probably join Juventus so as to strengthen the squad with some firepower which the Ivorian is known for during his day at the London club.

This information prompted the reaction of the Juventus Director General saying the former Chelsea striker is not one of the candidates to strengthen the Serie A leaders’ attack in the January transfer window.

He said further that Juventus has never considered making a move for Drogba, that it is just a rumour and speculation.

Victor Moses ready to play ‘Striker’ role for Chelsea

As Ivorian and former Chelsea Striker Didier Drogba decided to leave Stamford Bridge last season after their Champions League victory, the striking role fell upon the laps of the Spaniard Fernando Torres by default ad to assert that, no striker was signed up. But a little into the new season Torres has returned his days of underperformance with dismal performances against QPR, Juventus and Stoke City and he has been under heavy criticism of late.

Manager Di Matteo and Chelsea owner probably decided against signing a replacement for Didier Drogba but their hope of his replacement; Fernando Torres has probably not been playing to expectation as Di Mattio attention turned to Danny Sturridge who unfortunately is now struggling with armstring injury ,opening the chance of every possibility for new signing Victor Moses to fill up that role.

The Nigerian international in response said he will be willing and ready to play the striking role for Chelsea if Manager Roberto Di Matteo will let him as he is up to the task.

Victor Moses said position change on field comes naturally to him as he really does not mind what position he plays from as he is very versatile.

Former Chelsea winger Trevor Sinclair recently urged Moses to ease the scoring burden on the out-of-form Torres. The Spaniard, however, is expected to start the game against Arsenal at Ashburton Grove on 29 September.

Lukaku must earn playing time -West Brom Manager

Steve Clarke the manager of West Brom has told Romelu Lukaku who is the new signing of the club from new European champions Chelsea that he should show his worth as he will not be given automatic shirt in the first team, meaning he will have to earn it.

The youngster before now has always blamed Chelsea for his lacklustre performance saying he never got playing chances. He concluded saying that his year at Stamford Bridge was a waste of time.

This information really does not impress Steve Clarke as Lukaku thought a sob-story would earn him a soft spot but it made his situation worse.

Clarke says he won’t take any crap from Lukaku even though he understands the forward’s desire to play, he’s only going to get opportunities by earning them and to do that he’ll have to shut up and work hard.

Accroding to Clarke “Whether he has grievances with Chelsea is not for me to comment on. I don’t know what happened last year at Chelsea. It was obviously going to be difficult for him to get in the team ahead of Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres and that proved to be the case.

“But he’s got a clean slate this year. He’s one of a number of strikers competing for a place in my team and I’m hoping that at the end of this year he’s not complaining about anything.”

Although Lukaku won’t face as much competition as he did at Chelsea behind the likes of Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres, West Brom also have a number of forwards that he has to fight his way ahead of, including Peter Odemwingie, Shane Long, Marc-Antoine Fortune and Markus Rosenburg.

He’s a player that needs to work on a few things, including his terrible first touch, and he’s in good hands with Steve Clarke. Although I’m annoyed by what he’s said, I’ll be willing to forgive his rudeness if he shows us what he’s capable of whilst on loan at the Hawthorns.

Challenge, not money, brought me to China: Drogba

It is not money but the big challenge in an unfamiliar land that lured Didier Drogba to China, the Ivory Coast striker said on Saturday.

Zhou Jun, director of Shanghai Shenhua Football Club, and soccer player Didier Drogba hold up a Shanghai Shenhua FC jersey in Shanghai

More than 300 fans gathered at the Shanghai airport to welcome Drogba on his much-anticipated arrival to join Chinese Super League strugglers Shanghai Shenhua.

Drogba has signed a two-and-a-half-year contract with the big-spending club for a reported salary of $300,000 a week, ending weeks of speculation on his future after he announced his decision to leave Champions League winners Chelsea.

“I decided to come here because when the club and the president approached me, I looked at the project and it came with ambitious ideas and he wants to … help football develop in China,” Drogba told reporters after his unveiling.

“I know China is a great sports country so for me it was also a big challenge because it could have been easy for me to stay in Europe and go to another team, another big team.

“Really, I didn’t come here with the idea of making a lot of money. I come here because it is a completely different challenge from what I have seen in Europe before.

“And that’s the idea, there are many challenges but this one is a big one.”

Drogba’s arrival is the latest in a long list of high-profile names who have made the move to China in recent months.

Italian World Cup winning coach Marcello Lippi is in charge of a Guangzhou Evergrande side packed full of skilful South American talent.

Drogba, who scored 157 times in 341 appearances for Chelsea making him the club’s fourth all-time leading scorer, is the biggest catch of them all.

Poor results

The 34-year old striker will join former Chelsea team mate Nicolas Anelka at the club struggling at the 13th spot in the 16-club Chinese Super League. Shanghai Shenhua is coached by former Argentina boss Sergio Batista.

“The results of my new team, they are not so good, not so great. But you know, the second part of the season just started and I think we have time to make some better results and to bring the club to a better place,” Drogba said.

“With my team mates, we are going to perform as much as we can. And I came here to win the league, I am not coming here as the beginning of the retirement or something like this.

“I want people to make sure and to understand that I am here to win. I am not here to sit and relax.”

The fans arrived in the early hours of the morning at the Shanghai Pudong International Airport, many dressed in the club’s blue jersey bearing “Drogba 11”, and their hopes were also pinned on the Drogba-Anelka strike force.

“I believe that with his arrival, our results will improve significantly, because he has a good rapport with Anelka,” 23-year-old Zhu Hongbo said.

“Also, we have brought in a midfield player in (Giovanni) Moreno. I think for the second half of the year, our results will improve and we can be in the top three.”

Drogba joins Shanghai Shenhua on a two and half year deal

Didier Drogba has signed for Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua on a two-and-a-half year deal. The former Chelsea striker, 34, flies out to join his new team-mates in July.

Making the announcement on his website, the Ivorian striker state that “I have considered all the offers I have received in the past few weeks, but feel that Shanghai Shenhua is the right move for me at this time.”

“I’m looking forward to a new challenge, to experiencing a new culture and excited about developments in the Chinese Super League.”

“When Chelsea went to China last year, we had a great time and I met some amazing fans” “I hope to help promote Chinese football around the world and further improve the links between China and Africa” he added.

Drogba’s last act in a Chelsea shirt was scoring the winning penalty in their Champions League triumph over Bayern Munich.

The forward joined Chelsea from Olympique Marseille in a 24 million pound move becoming one of Jose Mourinho’s first signings.

Drogba won three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and two League Cups during his eight-year spell. In that time he climbed to fourth on the list of Chelsea’s all-time goalscorers with 157 and is also the club’s leading scorer in European competition with 34.

He joins former Chelsea team-mate Nicholas Anelka at the club managed by ex-Argentina boss Sergio Batista.

Shanghai Shenhua owner Zhu Jun believes Drogba’s arrival will help cement his club on the football map.

He said: “We have been wanting to sign Didier for a while and are very happy that it has finally happened.

“He is an incredible player, who has won so many trophies in his career. We feel that his experience and ability will be a very valuable asset to our squad.

“Shanghai is one of the most influential cities in the world and we are very excited to welcome Didier here.”