Reigning African Footballer of the Year Didier Drogba was named yesterday on a shortlist of five finalists for the 2007 award, which will be handed out in February.
Drogba will be up against his Chelsea teammate Michael Essien, Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor and the Spanish-based pair of Frederic Kanoute and Mahamadou Diarra for the award, the Confederation of African Football announced.
Kanoute, who helped Sevilla to win the Uefa Cup in 2007, could become the first European-born player to win the title.
Kanoute, born near Lyon, played for France at junior level before switching his international allegiance to Mali in 2004.
Drogba won the 2006 title by edging out Samuel Eto'o of Barcelona with Ghanaian international Essien third. Essien is in the final five contenders for a third successive year. Real Madrid's Diarra helped Mali qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations finals from a tough group while Adebayor's candidacy is based on his individual performances for Arsenal rather than his national team efforts with Togo.
He boycotted several international matches this year in an ongoing dispute over money with his country's football federation. The winner will be announced at the yearly Confederation of African Football awards ceremony, scheduled for February 1 in Lome, Togo.
The winner is voted for in a poll of coaches of the 53 African national teams. The five finalists were chosen by an initial vote of CAF committee members. - Reuters