11 EPL nominees for African crown

Titleholder Yaya Toure of Manchester City is among 11 English Premier League stars nominated for the 2015 African Footballer of the Year award.

Titleholder Yaya Toure of Manchester City is among 11 English Premier League stars nominated for the 2015 African Footballer of the Year award.

The 32-year-old Cote d’Ivoire midfield general has been voted the continent’s top soccer player a record four consecutive times.

Kenyan Victor Wanyama and Senegalese Sadio Mane from Southampton and Ghanaian Christian Atsu and Ivorian Max Alain Gradel from Bournemouth are other England-based nominees.

Democratic Republic of Congo duo Dieumerci Mbokani of Norwich City and Yannick Bolasie of Crystal Palace and Ghanaian Andre Ayew of Swansea City also made the 37-player list.

Beninese Rudy Gestede of Aston Villa, Algerian Riyad Mahrez of Leicester City and Senegalese Mame Biram Diouf of Stoke City are other contenders.

But there was no place for Manchester City striker Wilfried Bony, one of four African nominations for the 2015 Ballon d’Or World Footballer of the Year award with Toure, Atsu and Ayew.

There have been nine Premier League-based winners of the African Footballer of the Year award, led by Toure and two-time title-holder and fellow Ivorian Didier Drogba, then with Chelsea.

Togolese Emmanuel Adebayor topped the poll when playing for Arsenal, Senegalese El Hadji Diouf won when at Liverpool and Nigerian Nwankwo Kanu was crowned when playing for Arsenal.

Toure will be among the favorites again with the winner to be announced at an early January ceremony in Nigerian commercial capital, Lagos.

The physically imposing star was part of the Cote d’Ivoire team that won the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea after a penalty shootout against Ghana.

Midfielder Ayew, who has made a seamless transition from the French Ligue 1 to the Premier League this season, will be hoping to create history.

His father, Ghana legend Abedi ‘Pele’ Ayew, was voted African Footballer of the Year three consecutive times from 1991, but no son of a winner has emulated the feat.

The Premier League and Ligue 1 have supplied nine winners each of an award first staged in 1970 and won by Malian Salif Keita, then with French outfit Saint-Etienne.

There have been seven winners from the Spanish La Liga and four from the Italian Serie A, but none from the German Bundesliga.

(China Daily 10/14/2015 page22)

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