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BBC award: Can Katongo win it?


LONDON — No football player from Southern Africa has ever won the BBC African Footballer of the Year even on the two occasions countries from this region have been crowned the best on the continent.<!–more–>

<strong>Reporting by Sports Reporter/BBC Sport</strong>

South Africa won the African title in 1996 and no one was good enough to scoop the top gong. Zambia lifted the 2012 title and have captain Chris Katongo in the final five candidates revealed yesterday.

Zambia, as a team, were awarded the 1994 accolade after reaching the Africa Cup Of Nations (Afcon) finals after an entire team had perished in air crash the previous year. They lost the final 2-1 to Nigeria.

But does Katongo have any chance against the galaxy of stars like Manchester City and Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Touré, his country teammate and Uefa Champions League winner Didier Drogba, Senegal’s Demba Ba and Morocco’s Younes Belhanda?

No doubt he is up against the best in the world and his only major disadvantage seems not to be playing top-flight football in either Italy, England, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands or France.

<strong>African football fans to vote for winner</strong>

THE winner will be decided by African football fans, who have until 6:30pm on Thursday, December 13 to vote for their choice.

The winner will be announced on December 17.

It has been an outstanding year for all the nominees, with four of the players winning pieces of silverware.

Drogba could not have bid a better farewell to Chelsea at the end of the season after scoring the winning penalty to clinch the Champions League trophy for the first time in the club’s history, and also scoring what proved to be the winning goal in the FA Cup final.

His Ivorian compatriot, Touré, was a key player for Manchester City as the “Sky Blues” were crowned Premier League champions for the first time — and their first top-flight title for 44 years.

A domestic title was also earned by Belhanda, whose 12 goals and all-round performances were a huge factor as Montpellier pulled off a major surprise to win the French Ligue 1 championship.

On the international scene there was yet another first as Katongo led from the front for Zambia, skippering them to a shock victory in the Afcon, where “Chipolopolo” beat Ivory Coast on penalties in the final.

Ba fared less well at the Afcon, with Senegal going out of the competition at the group stage, but he enjoyed personal success with Newcastle where he ended last season as the club’s top scorer with 17 goals, helping them to finish fifth in the table.

Previous winners of BBC African Footballer of the Year award:
2011 — Andre “Dede” Ayew (Marseille and Ghana)
2010 — Asamoah Gyan (Sunderland and Ghana)
2009 — Didier Drogba (Chelsea and Ivory Coast)
2008 — Mohamed Aboutrika (Al Ahly and Egypt)
2007 — Emmanuel Adebayor (Arsenal and Togo)
2006 — Michael Essien (Chelsea and Ghana)
2005 — Mohamed Barakat (Al Ahly and Egypt)
2004 — Jay Jay Okocha (Bolton and Nigeria)
2003 — Jay Jay Okocha (Bolton and Nigeria)
2002 — El Hadji Diouf (Liverpool and Senegal)
2001 — Sammy Kuffour (Bayern Munich and Ghana)
2000 — Patrick Mboma (Parma and Cameroon)

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