Can Essien, Drogba Deny Eto'o Historic Feat?
Ghanaian international Michael Essien and his Chelsea teammate, Didier Drogba, both of whom popped champagne to celebrate their victory in the Carling Cup last Sunday, wait in line in a bid to dethrone Cameroun star Samuel Eto'o Fils as the king of African football in 2006.
Last year in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, Eto'o joined the legendary Abedi Pele as the second African footballer to claim three back-to-back African Footballer of the Year crowns, an achievement that established his legend.
Tonight at the Accra International Conference Centre, before a distinguished audience that includes President J.A. Kufuor and illustrious footballers like Abedi Pele, Roger Milla, Thomas Nkono, Kalusha Bwalya, Eto'o will seek to raise the bar to unprecedented levels with a fourth successive crowns at the Glo-CAF Awards gala.
In his bid to achieve that enviable status as one of Africa's all-time greatest players, the Camerounian will find the Chelsea duo more difficult opponents than dribbling past the toughest defenders in Europe.
Thursday's Glo-CAF Awards appears to be the competitive and too close to call, with Drogba and Essien looking credible candidates for the African best player crown after an outstanding performance for club and country and in particular the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.
While Essien could become only the fourth Ghanaians after Ibrahim Sunday, Abdul Razak and Abedi to join this exclusive class, Ivorian Drobga looks the best bet to deny Eto'o a place in the history books.
Whatever the outcome, history will be made at the Conference Centre. Drogba could be the first Ivorian to be elevated to that level while Essien could be the first player to sweep both the CAF and BBC awards in the same year.
Essien was a notable absentee in the 2006 African Cup of Nations tourney in Egypt where Drogba powered Cote d'Ivoire to the final while Eto'o finished the tourney as top scorer with five goals.
The Ghanaian midfield powerhouse put up a great show at the World Cup and a stellar performance with Chelsea to silence his critics in a similar manner as the Ivorian striker who led his country to Germany 2006 and a command performer at Chelsea.
Eto'o was simply awesome in 2006 where he led Barcelona to win the UEFA Champions League and Spanish title and won the top scorer crown in the La Liga.
Ghana's Black Stars, nominated on account of a command performance at Germany 2006 as Africa's sole survivor after the group stage, face a stiff com petition from the Pharaohs of Egypt, the reigning African champions, and Elephants of Cote d'Ivoire for the 2006 National Team of the Year award.
Nigeria's Cynthia Uwak looks favourite for the Female Footballer of the Year crown in a contest with Ghana's Sheila Okine and Portia Modise of South Africa.
Black Stars striker Asamoah Gyan, who scored the fastest goal at the World Cup in Ghana's famous 2-0 win over the Czech Republic, is in contention with Mbark Boudssoufa of Morocco and Nigeria defender Taye Taiwo.
Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire and Nigeria are vying for the Supporters Club of the Year award.
Nevertheless, Ghana is at least guaranteed an award as President Kufuor will be honoured with the Glo-CAF Platinum award, an honour reserved for top government officials.