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SHAME TO CAF IF GYAN DID NOT WIN………………

By Lewis Nenyewode Numekevor
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Asamoah Gyan, together with Samuel Eto'o and Didier Drogba all made the final shorlist of three vying for the CAF African Player Award, and it will be a big shame and total disgrace to the entire CAF institution if Gyan did not win the award come 20th December 2010 in Cairo.

In regard to the award, Asamoah Gyan, Roger Milla and El Hadji Diouf (past winners) all have some facts in common, and crowning Gyan with the award this year will only help to complete the list of the things they share in common.

They are all strikers. They are all right footed players. They have all played in the French League before. Though they are strikers, they are not prolific goal scorers (debatable). They have all played in the African cup of nations and scored. They all played in the FIFA World Cup. They all played in the quarter final stage of the World Cup. None scored in the quarter final stage of the World Cup. Their singular performances help their teams to the last 8 of the World Cup. All their various teams exited the World Cup in the quarter final stage after 120 minutes (extra time).

Now the final common thing they are suppose to share is, their singular performances that helped their teams to the quarter final stage of the World Cup got them nominated for the CAF African Player Award and won it.

Now, Milla and Diouf won it under such circumstances and why not Asamoah Gyan?.

When Milla won it in 1990, he was then retired, and it took a phone call from none other person than the then Cameroonian president, Paul Biya before he boarded the plane to Italy for the World Cup competition. At the competition, he was not a first team player, a substitute who played just 20 -15 minutes of each game. This means Milla had played just about a total of 90 minutes at the entire World Cup and scored 4 goals, and that was all he needed to win the best African player award that year (90 minutes display for a whole year earned him the award). This does not mean there were no other players doing well at the time. George Oppong Wear, our own Abedi Ayew Pele, Rabah Madjer and a host of others were in remarkable form for their clubs and country but not at the World Cup. With this, CAF is claiming that the World Cup is the toughest and most competitive in the world, and if a player could go there and perform creditably, he should be recognized duly. And this, I fully support because the World Cup is arguably the best. It is a platform for the best players to exhibit their worth. It supersedes any other soccer competition on this planet, and every continent is equally represented.

El Hadji Diouf followed the trend in 2002 by winning the award after a remarkable performance at the World Cup. He won it the year before, but it was no doubt that his excellent display at the World cup earned him the second award that year. But unlike Roger Milla in 1990, he earned some extra marks at other areas. He led a youthful Senegalese team to the African nations cup finals in Mali at the young age of 21, before he later took them again to the last 8 of the World Cup in Japan-Korea 2002. Again unlike Milla, he played almost all the entire duration of all the 5 matches his team played at competition and he was selected in the FIFA all star team at the end of the tournament. So, it was no wonder he won the award that year. Now, Asamoah Gyan, compared to Milla and Diouf in the years they won the awards, performed a little ahead, and that is what I expect CAF and the 53 coaches who will decide the winner to recognize.

Playing for a lesser team like Rennes in the French Ligue 1, he scored 13 goals in the 2009-10 season. Then, in-between the French season, he led a relatively young Ghanaian side, deprived of key performers like Michael Essien, Stephen Appiah, John Painstil, John Mensah and Sulley Muntari to the Grand finals of the 2010 Afrrica Cup of Nations in Angola before losing gallantly to their more experienced Egypt side. In Angola, the other 2 who made the final cut, Eto'o and Drogba were present but their presence was not felt in anyway. But Gyan scored 3 of the 4 crucial goals Ghana needed to make the grand finals. He was the third best player of the Competition and was duly recognized in the CAf best eleven players of the competition.

Then came the World cup itself later in the year, competition of all competitions. Again he proved what he did in Angola was no fluke, he scored three of the four vital goals which helped Ghana to reach the last eight of the competition. Though he missed a crucial penalty that could have earned Ghana a historical last four place for Africa, his only imperfection in the year, but penalties don't determine how good a player is, does it? He chalked two man of the match awards in his first two games of the world cup, against Serbia and Australia. His techniques and general contribution to the game was adjudged second to only Lionel Messi, by FIFA technical group of the competition after the first round of matches. He eventually got nominated for the best player of the tournament award won by Diego Folan of Uruguay. Again the other two contenders for the CAF award this year, Samuel Eto'o and Didier Drogba were at the big party, but could not stand to be counted. He was also one of the 23 nominated for the FIFA best player of the year award before it was cut to the final three of Messi, Aniesta and Xavi.

After the world cup, his excellent performance at the competition caught the eyes of many coaches and teams across the world and was linked to a host of them. He eventually signed for Sunderland in the English premiership for 13 million pounds (Sunderland highest record signing). He did not end there, with just 5 starts for his new club; he scored five times, not bad for a new player. He is also in the running for the BBC African Player of the year Award later this year.

Now what are the achievements of the other two challengers? Eto'o won the treble with Inter Milan with a performance not as good compared to when he won everything with Barcelona. Though he top the scorers chart of the Uefa champions league his team struggled to make the second round of the competition. Drogba on the other hand was the top scorer in the English premier league and help Chelsea to the league title and FA cup double.

Why they don't have a chance against Gyan.
Eto'o's Inter Milan placed a miserable 8th position in the Italian serie A and he has just recently fined and given two match ban for a head butt on an opponent in a league match.Drogba's Chelsea are currently struggling in the premier league in fourth place. To sum it all, the two flopped in two major tournaments (The African Cup of Nations and the FIFA World Cup) in the year under review; compared to Gyan who shone in all competitions he took part.

This is Asamoah Gyan's year, and he has only himself to beat for this award. But if CAF and the 53 coaches on the continent who will decide the winner think otherwise then it would be a shame and their credibility will forever be in question.

By: Lewis Nenyewode Numekevor