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Drogba a surprise choice

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Piers Edwards | 16:57 UK time, Friday, 12 March 2010

I am, I have to confess, slightly surprised by the choice of Ivory Coast captain Didier Drogba as the CAF African Footballer of 2009.

The Chelsea star won the prestigious prize for the second time on Thursday night although many experts expected to see Cameroon's Samuel Eto'o win it for the fourth time.

The Ivorian was crowned Africa's best by a poll of the continent's coaches, who nominated Drogba (92 points) above both Eto'o (69) and local boy Michael Essien (43) at Thursday's award ceremony in the Ghanaian capital Accra.

One could, of course, ask whether this was really Drogba's third title. He was tipped to win in 2007, but missed the awards ceremony in Togo (which came 48 hours before a crucial 2008 Nations Cup quarter-final).

The prize went to Mali's Frederic Kanoute with the Confederation of African Football (Caf) later stating: "Any player who is absent at [the] award ceremony will not be taken into consideration in placements of African footballer of the year."

After meeting with Caf president Issa Hayatou, Drogba recently made his peace with African football's governing body and Caf's rule on absence has also clearly ended, as otherwise the African Footballer of 2009 would have been no-one as none of the short-listed candidates made it to the ceremony.

Michael Essien was advised not to travel by doctors because of his knee troubles, Eto'o is in Catania for Friday night's key clash for Serie A table-toppers Inter Milan while Drogba's Chelsea host West Ham on Saturday.

So was it a sympathy vote by Africa's national coaches, who determine the award, after Drogba missed out two years ago or simply a case of short memories as the time for voting came around (for the Ivorian was red-hot at the tail end of 2009)? Or may it have been that the voters believed Eto'o's three African Footballer of the Year titles (2003-2005) were already enough?

Didier DrogbaDrogba in action for Ivory Coast against South Korea at Loftus Road

Of course, the simple answer is that most believed Drogba to be last year's best but I would question whether that was really the case.

Just to recap, the club highlight of Drogba's 2009 was when he scored in the FA Cup final defeat of Everton - a mere consolation prize after Chelsea missed out on both the Premier and Champions Leagues.

Meanwhile, Eto'o was instrumental in Barcelona's historic Spanish league, cup and Champions League treble - plundering goals aplenty, including one in the European final against Manchester United (which made him one of only two men to have scored in different Champions League finals).

Internationally, both players were more or less equal, playing lead roles in qualifying their nations for this year's World Cup - Drogba outscoring Eto'o by five to three in 2009, but not overall - while both captains scored the goals that clinched their team's qualification.

Everyone is of course free to make their own choices but I'm still surprised that the coaches of Egypt, South Africa and eight other nations failed to even give Eto'o one of their three votes, with the coaches having to choose from an original list also comprising Yaya Toure and Seydou Keita.

Either way, it was a fantastic way for Drogba to celebrate his 32nd birthday on Thursday as he succeeded last year's winner Emmanuel Adebayor (who incidentally had tipped Eto'o as his successor).

Elsewhere though, the honours seemed fairly spot on.

Algeria deservedly won the National Team of the Year, ahead of Ivory Coast and Ghana, for the unexpected feat of reaching the World Cup finals, which even manager Rabah Saadane admits was beyond his wildest expectations when qualifying started.

"The World Cup was a dream at the beginning and I used to say 'you need to be a magician to qualify this team for the World Cup' but the dream came true," says a man who outwitted Egypt in November's tensest of play-offs.

Saadane achieved a minor miracle in taking the little-fancied Desert Foxes to South Africa so it seems mildly unfair that he was ineligible to win Coach of the Year, for Caf's criteria state that the winner 'must have guided [his] team to a major feat in a major championship during the year under review'.

This also excluded Cameroon's French coach Paul Le Guen who worked wonders steering the Indomitable Lions from bottom of their World Cup qualifying group to top after his arrival, as they won four must-win matches when there was no room for error.

So last year's coach of the year went instead to Sellas Tetteh, a deserving winner since he guided Ghana's U20 side to Fifa World Youth Championship glory in Egypt - making history as Africa won the title for the first time. For that reason, it also seems odd that the Black Satellites, as Ghana's U20 side are known, failed to make the shortlist for national team of the year, especially since they fulfilled all the necessary criteria.

Other winners on the night included Dominic Adiyiah, the Ghanaian whose eight goals in Egypt earned a dream move to AC Milan, winning the Young Player of the Year prize ahead of South Africa's Kermit Erasmus, who may just make a name for himself at the World Cup, and Nigerian U17 star Sani Emmanuel.

My personal favourite though is the Best Supporters of the Year award which South Africa's fans won, largely for their vociferous displays during last year's World Cup dress rehearsal - the Confederations Cup.

Saddam Maake

South Africa's Football Supporters Association (Safsa) has reacted in euphoric fashion, releasing a media statement - entitled 'Vuvuzela Conquers Africa!' - as it beats the drum for the controversial plastic trumpet.

The South Africans even sent their most famous fan to Ghana, with Saddam Maake declaring upon receipt of the trophy - "Vuvuzela is our heritage, our pride and unique culture of celebrating and supporting our beautiful game: long live Vuvuzela!"

Revealing the local excitement in this historic year, Safsa has even asked all football fans and media to attend a 'heroes' welcome' to greet the returning delegation from Ghana - only if you're keen of course, since they arrive at 0430 on Saturday morning.


  • Comment number 1.

    First in!!!
    Lets be honest, Drogba plays well for Chelsea as he has a strong team to allow him to drift in and out of games. Also, he spends as much time rolling around pretending to be hurt as he does putting in a shift. Thats the key difference between him and Rooney.
    When playing for the Ivory Coast he fails to lift the team in the way people expect. The recent African Cup showed again that he is a mood player who is over hyped.

  • Comment number 2.

    Not another Piers who is anti Chelsea !!!!!
    Don't forget that Drogba can defend as well as score goals. I would also
    point out that Eto'o would not have appeared in the CL Final, had it not
    been for one of the most bizzare refereeing performances ever witnessed
    on these shores.
    Well done to the Drogs - richly deserved.

  • Comment number 3.

    Concerning the surprise choice of Didier Drogba as African footballer of the year, was it that the coaches on hindsight considered that had referee Ovrebo not made his mistakes Eto'o and Barcelona would not have been in the 2009 UEFA Champions league at all and it would rather have been Drogba and Chelsea, who could have won it? Just wondering!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 4.

    this does not come as a surprise to me. in africa, only the premier leagues and la liga are soon on television. once you play outside these leagues, people rarely get to know of your exploits. since eto'o moved to inter milan, his chances of winning were halfed. this is an obvious bias but that's the nature of the continent. you can only judge that which you can see or that which you know.

  • Comment number 5.

    No surpris.e Drogba has come up with the goods, Eto'o hasn't.
    Although I dislike Chelsea I have to admire Drogba.

  • Comment number 6.

    Drogba is better than Eto'o. Wheres the surprise?

  • Comment number 7.

    Drogba winning it didn't surprise me, he has played well for Chelsea all through 2009. Eto'o has been poor to say the least since he left Barca, it shows that he depended so much on Xavi, Iniesta and Messi at Barca. Good finisher but not as complete as Drogba.

    I do find it odd however that they obviously did not base their votes on the player's performances in the ACoN, because if they did, none of the top 3 would have won it. (Maybe you can clarify whether the votes were cast before the competition?)

    The biggest surprise for me was the inclusion of Essien, how much football has he played in the last year?
    He was missing at the start of 2009 and the end, take away the summer months and he had around 5 months playing time, during which he won the FA cup. Don't get me wrong, he played fantastic stuff during that time but surely that is not enough to be in the running for player of the year!!

  • Comment number 8.

    Drogba is the best player from Africa at the moment, end of.

  • Comment number 9.

    Normally these types of awards, who is the "best", are fraught with problems. For example, on what basis do you compare Essien with Drogba or Eto'o? Strikers are almost always going to get the lion's share of attention, and yet Essien's contribution is fantastic and I would venture to say any club in the world would put him into their lineup if they could.

    Drogba vs Eto'o is at least a little more logical comparison. Both excellent strikers but their style and role in the line is different. If you look at Barca, maybe you'd agree that Ibrahimovic's style is more like Drogba's than Eto'os and that Ibra does not look like he's fitting tremendously well at Barca- maybe the same would apply if Drogba were to have led the line at Barca. At Inter, well clearly Mourinho had a look at both and wanted Drogba but settled for Eto'o- but Eto'o has played very well for him.

    For what its worth I think Drogba is the more "obviously" entertaining player, he is more likely to come up with the miracle goal and, histrionics aside which you have to say is the curse of many gifted players, on that basis he'd have got my vote.

  • Comment number 10.

    CAF is an empty vessel. It is reckless and senseless.I think it should be dissolved since they can't rightfully and legitimately award a player.What did Drobga ACHIEVED LAST SEASON? this is total bias

  • Comment number 11.

    IT is wrong, wrong, wrong, for African national coaches to vote for foreign-based players -- outside the African leagues. But what hypocrites these coaches are: Guess what? They voted for one of their own and not a foreign-based African coach or even African-based foreign coach.

    I would also like to known the criteria for nominating and voting for the so-called African footballer of the year. Their problem is inferiority complex. Further, as many of them are too poor to have a Sky Sport subscription, let alone travel to these foreign clubs to watch theses African players, how did they arrive at their conclusion? Beside what is the purpose of the award? Is it to promote African football or European football.

    On vuvuzela (Don't get me started ), has FIFA not banned it yet? If not, what is FIFA waiting for? It really does my head in – to use the vernacular – even in the confine of my house watching the beautiful game on my telly. Of all the countless numbers of musical instruments in Africa, how could any sane person choose the vuvu or what ever they called.

    I am sure the Chinese are working overtime to make sure that even children born after the world cup get theirs. Further, I wonder how many people after the world cup will have hearing problems caused by the vuvu rubbish. Maybe people with such hearing problems could sue FIFA – as Americans would do. Vuvu is a nuisance and should have no place in the beautiful game.

  • Comment number 12.

    Congratulations to Drogba for unifying the awards - on a very rare occasion. But I think I will side with Piers' surprise on this one.

    The African player of the year is about the best player from the continent from January 2009 to December 2009. Or at least, the player to have made the greatest impact for his club and country in a year. It is not about the best player of the moment or period when the ceremony takes place(now).

    If you put the performances of the three short-listed players throughout the year, I think Eto'o takes it. Piers has already mentioned his goals, and overall contribution to the success of Barca and the revival of Cameroon in 2009.

    Contrary to the impression held by EPL-centric friends on here, Eto'o has more to his game than just standing in-front and scoring goals from passes made by Xavi and Iniesta. He is (was) often used in wide positions (left and right of the attack) as was the case in the Champions League final when he scored the opener against Man Utd and for Cameroon where Webo and Idrissou are play as central strikers (a la Drogba and Torres). At Inter he plays as second striker off Diego Milito and in Cameroon plays as a N°10 behind Emana and Webo.

    He is also influential in defensive situations - something Barca fans have not forgotten.If the coaches' choice was therefore based on a player's global contribution (as some are suggesting), Eto'o should still have come on top in 2009.

    In most awards from last year - Ballon d'Or (France Football), FIFA Player of the year, and UEFA European Cup awards Eto'o was ahead of Drogba. These two players don't play on the African continent (apart from when on national duty - where they seemed much at par in 2009) which logically means those accolades in Europe are not far from the truth.

    My other surprise is Michael Essien. How he made it to the final short-list - given the all round out-put of Yaya Toure in 2009, seems strange. I don't want to mention Seydou Keita!

    Anyway, that's the beauty of these awards. Few of us expected to see Cannavaro named the World's best in 2006, but it was the case. Drogba too outrightly deserved the 2007 CAF award but the confederation in its notorious attitude refused to give him.

    IMHO he was a good second in 2009 but is in the lead on points for 2010 African Player of the Year(pending the World Cup). CAF, though, seems to be in a haste.

    In other matters, I think CAF should seek a method of announcing this award in the actual year it is meant to cover. I cannot understand why this confederation always has problems with schedules and calendars (timing of the Nations Cup anyone?!). How can you host an awards ceremony in the absence of the guests of honour (nominees)?!!!

  • Comment number 13.

    The African footballer of the year has become an irrelevant trophy with which CAF massages its huge ego.No one knows the basis on which the winner is choosen,and quite frankly no one cares.Evidence none of the three top nominees was even in Accra for the awards.
    A waste of time as far as I am concerned.

  • Comment number 14.

    #13 I totally agree, although it would have been difficult for some of the nominees to make it due to club commitments.

    As far as the winner goes, Drogba has continually underperformed on the international scene, as has his team. Although Eto'o, has had the more successful calendar year at club level, he too failed to reach the heights at CAN.

    Was the shortlist compiled to early for any Egpytian players to be considered?

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.

    Samuel from Nigeria. I personaly think Drogba deserve to be named 2009 African footballer of the year. His performance for Chelsea was wonderful and for his country to qualified for the first world cup in Africa is still wonderful. If not for the controversial exit of Chelsea in semi final of the 2009 champions league, he could have won it. Guess what? He is currently the highest goal scorer among African players in Europe. Once again congratulation the king of African footballers.

  • Comment number 17.

  • Comment number 18.

    Leo Moto - very good post but as you wrote it is judged on the whole of the year 2009. Eto'o had rather a poor start at Inter, in my opinion not many performances to warrant an award but then of course there was the season run in with Barcelona. It is rather the opposite to Drogba who performed outstandingly August - December (and actually was very, very good after the departure of Scolari - I forget now his record but I would wager it is better than Eto'o).

    I am divided on the matter but it is of no real surprise to me that Drogba has won, whilst Chelsea may not have won many trophies that shouldn't mean the performance of an individual could be any less great.

    (Though that last paragraph is obviously not true in all cases, see Cannavaro 2006!)

  • Comment number 19.

    No mention of Pienaar in this, thought he has done better than essien this year with him being injured for most of it

  • Comment number 20.

    14 - "Was the shortlist compiled to early for any Egpytian players to be considered?"

    African Cup of Nations took place in 2010, not 2009. Why should any Egyptian player be taken into account? No Egyptian club won anything in 2009, whilst the National Team lost out to Algeria.

    16 - "He is currently the highest goal scorer among African players in Europe."

    Actually, no he isn't. The highest goal scorer among African players is Seydou Doumbia of Swiss club Young Boys.

  • Comment number 21.

    I have been reading all comments. Quite a few of them doesn't reflect the the realities of the awards. I think people should look back at the 2009 football season and compare the achievements of both Drogba and Eto in their respective clubs and national level. These have got to be done objectively and without bias as to where/what the players concerned are playing and how.
    I strongly believe Piers Edward's comment is quite logical people should through through properly before posting craps.

    2009 was an injury year for Drogba, how did he win the title? Thats a big question that can't be answer. He doing doing good now and might win for 2010. He is aware he wasn't better than Than Eto.Look at statistics, how many premiership goals, Championship goals,cup titles, national team contributionss ? Thats what we should be judging. He might be doing well now but he didn't do that much last year.

    Eto, should have been the winner. Thats clear. We are not only commenting to win. Use facts. Buddy........

    some comments projects the poor rentive memories of their authors.
    Come on men,,,,,,

  • Comment number 22.

    DNJ - firstly this award is based on 2009 calendar year, this is very important when considering this debate as it doesn't only reflect the end of the 08/09 season but also the start of this 09/10 season too.

    This, as I wrote before, is an award to an individual and so judging it based upon how many trophies the individual's team has won is a bit problematic. An individual's real contribution is actually very hard to measure and will not follow any true logic. That is not to say you shouldn't try to do this but it shouldn't be placed as one of the most important factors, which I believe Piers has done in his article.

    If you want this award to be done objectively anyway it would have to be a golden boot type as you would have to measure goals. Or perhaps count up all passes or tackles or perhaps even throw ins. Player of the year awards have to include some personal judgements or they wouldn't work (or indeed be something else!).

    I think that you too should think about what you are writing before you post DNJ....

    Can anyone post up the number of goals in the calendar year 2009 by Drogba and Eto'o please?

  • Comment number 23.

    am not sure you know how to play soccer because your opinion is just too parochial i wonder if you ever kicked a ball,am not suprised because like all british you lack no basic skill in anything but run your mouth-thats why you and your collegues compare skillless wayne with drogba or etoo

  • Comment number 24.

    Reading some of the comments here it is clear many of you people don't watch other leagues' games and don't know what the award is based on. I keep saying this was daylight robbery. I for one love DD but this was Eto's award hands down!!! The decision was unfair!

    1. The award is based on performance in the 2008-2009 season. What did Drogba win that season? NOTHING! Eto helped Barca do the treble. And he scored goals in the CL final (the only player to have scored in two CL finals).

    2. Eto, unlike Drogba plays left, right and sometimes deep midfield. Last season he switched a lot with Henry and Messi sometimes. Watch the games. Drogba is always the #9. For Eto to have scored that many goals without being in the box all the time shows his prowess. At Inter Milan, Eto is not the #9 (Milito is). So Eto plays the wings and feeds Milito to score. Drogba gets fed balls all the time (again I am not taking anything away from DD as he is great, but just being fair).

    3. Eto led Cameroon to qualify from a surprising WC group when they were in last place and on the verge of elimination. Drogba's Cote D'Ivoire had a cake walk with a weak group (same thing with ACON when Togo pulled out).

    So, for the 2009-2010 season Eto cannot be on frame (Drogba probably will get it). But for 2008-2009, Drogba cannot even be considered in the same sentence as Eto for this award. To leap from that and award it to Drogba above Eto is an utter disgrace. Terrible disgrace!!!

  • Comment number 25.

    Hey Piers great blog. I am a scotsman also living in Joburg. Was at the airport very early this morning 5.30 and indeed the Bafana Bafana were there making a considerable amount of noise!!!Bring on 2010

  • Comment number 26.

    After todays 2 goals Drogba just overtook Doumbia as the highest scoring African in Europe :)

    24: You're wrong on one thing. The award is for 2009. Not season 2008/2009. So its Eto'o title winning spring vs Drogba's best footballer of the year autumn...

  • Comment number 27.

    Well.....not sure what winning medals proves as an individual as its really a team sport. I would say it depends on the player, not what they won. Let's look at Phil Neville in the future and base his ability on what he has won.

    It is all about the player and this season Eto has played 23 games and scored 8 goals for Inter Milan, while Drogba has played 32 games and scored 25 goals.

    I know who I would pick with those stats and who has contributed more.

    Plus for me, the one strong point about Drogba is his ability to defend and work hard around the pitch, bringing other players into the game.

    I cannot even see your view point in the slightest on this one. Drogba has been right up there with Rooney this season. I think they have been incredible for both teams.

  • Comment number 28.

    Not that your wrong....I just find it hard to understand....

  • Comment number 29.

    People claiming Drogba is ineffective for Ivory coast are misinformed and biased. He is their best player , leader and single handedly helped them win many games. He is also a great ambassador for african football and ivory coast. Finally - 41 goals in 63 games. shh!!!

  • Comment number 30.

    So all I learned from the confederations cup is South Africa have a lot of fans who know nothing of football (though this could be said of most football fans), but like to incessantly blow on these horns even when it has no bearing on what is going on during the game. Sure, it would be fine to play some instruments after you score or perhaps if they had some sort of melody to them, but all those vuvu things sound like is a swarm of bugs. Not to mention the players had difficulty even communicating in those stadiums during the confed cup.

    Congrats to Drogba though. Quality player as are all three on the short list.

  • Comment number 31.

    Simple. A Barca team without an Eto'o would still produce 80 goals plus a season. Drogbaless Chelsea might not be too far from birmingham city on the table. Time and time again Drogba has shown that he is indispensible and a huge character in the team and is still Chelsea's main attacking threat. And lets be real Eto'o is no Messi, iniesta, xavi or henry so the 5th best player in last seasons barca is hardly gonna be better than chelseas best player.

  • Comment number 32.

    1. I think you and most other commentators are being presumptuous. You
    don't know the criteria that is used. Personally i think the basis
    you're using ( i.e. honours won)is good, and I will have no problem
    going along with it. However if that indeed happens to be the basis,
    then Eto'o should not have been given the award the first time.
    Ghana's Samuel Osei Kuffour had won the Champion's League, The World
    Clubs Cup, and the German Bundesliga. He was outstanding for Bayern
    throughout the duration of all the 3 competitions. Eto'o, on the
    other hand, had won nothing that year except scoring close to 20
    goals ( I think 18 goals to be precise). But the award was given to
    Eto'o that year, so clearly you cannot say that the award is given
    on the basis of the laurels won by a player in year.
    2. Going by the basis you are using, Eto'o should have gone into this
    year's nomination as a 2-time winner (not a 3-time winner) and then
    on this basis of giving it to the most decorated player within the
    year,go ahead to win it this year to become a 3-time winner of the
    award, overall. So maybe it's a case of what goes around comes
    around. Or if you want the Karma principle. On the other hand,
    Drogba should have won it in 2008 but was not given. Bottomline for
    me is that, on merit, Eto'o should be a 3-time winner, and Drogba a
    2-time winner, and that is how the script reads at the moment
    (except that each of them have been given the award once in a
    particular year that they did not deserve, and conversely been
    denied once in a particular year when they deserved it.

    3. Point 2 has been made against the background of the yardstick you
    seem to use - i.e. the most decorated player within the year should
    be the winner. But as point 1 indicates, that may not be the
    yardstick that is actually used.
    It may well be that the voters are asked to vote simply on the basis of a player's performance throughout the year. If that is the case, then you will find that Drogba was generally very good from March to December 2009, whilst post August, Etoo (though he hasn't been abysmal) hasn't matched his usual high level.

    I have time constraints so I'll stop here but will return later to address other comments especially the comment by contributor no. 1 about Drogba's performance in Africa.

  • Comment number 33.

    WOW. how disapointed i am with all you fellow brothers/sisters if there are any. i have read a few of your comments and i truely lack the words with some of your points and critics against Etoo.
    I am fan of football and for no one in particular and if this award was to got to the right person, i think its in the hands of the worng person.

    I would say this and pls anyone... feel free to get back to me on this one... that is...after you look it up.
    LOOK UP TO OVERALL STATS FOR DIDIER DROGBA AND SAMUEL ETOO FOR THE 2009 YEAR AND LET ME KNOW. drogba doesnt stand a chance head to head with etoo NOT EVEN CLOSE.

    etoo's slow start in inter is to be welcomed due to the heartbreaking conditions that brought him there. i challenge anybody to perform at their best when they are not happy.
    pls lets be reasonable.

  • Comment number 34.

    I checked the stats for 1st January 2009 to 31st December 2009 (all competitive games: leagues, cups, internationals etc.)
    Eto'o scored 30 and provided assists for 7 goals in 59 games
    Drogba scored 36 and provided assists for 11 goals in 56 games

  • Comment number 35.

    I'm not dissapointed for Eto. Just dissapointed that the recordbooks will be filled with the wrong history for 2009. Such a pity

  • Comment number 36.

    Eto'o is a great finisher but Drogba is much more versatile. His strength, athleticism, the quality of his first-touch and finishing ability make him a nightmare for any team.

    As redonionbag noted, only his lower work-rate, which can be sporadic at times, and superior physicality separates him from Rooney. That said, he has been pretty good at staying on his feet over the last year or so.

    The simplest way of looking at is to consider where Chelsea would be without Drogba, versus how Barcelona have faired without Eto'o.

  • Comment number 37.

    To Be honest, the stuff is rubbish in my eyes.How can CAF be awarding African players who are not playing in Africa? In Europe it always goes to the best player who plays in Europe irrespective of his country.This is not good in anyway because it doesn't encourage those players playing in Africa. The award should simply goes to players who plays in Africa irrespective of their nationality period!!. Drodga ,Eto $ co, should be contesting for best European players because they play there.They shouldn't be local champions!!

  • Comment number 38.

    I really do appreciate the comments guys and some of what you guys said are true about drogba. I am by no means denying the fact he is a good forward. he ofcos make africa proud.
    back to reality as i emphasized... "superfly' did look up some facts which is great except they are a little too off. Neither eto'o nor drogba played only 50somthing games in the whole 2009 year. for the sake of fairness lets all start from somewhere without lies. only la liga alone has more thatn 40 games. there is copa del rei and the european championships which incase u may have fogoten, barcelona including eto'o went home with 3 championships... the first in spanish history. check again and u will see abt a 20% efficiency in # of goals eto'o scored compared to drogba.
    lets leave play aside for a little. isnt the best sopose to b some kind of a role model? the last time i checked. drogba is one of the most rude guys around. if i remember correctly he even got banned... and the fact the ref helpd barcelona in the champions league is bull' refs, players and everyone make decisions, no one is perfect. thats part of the fun in the game. if a ref gives a penalty or a yellow card for a dive, thats due to the player's making. it could throw the game either way.
    so once again. drogba is a great player i would select in my team, but for the 2009 year, eto'o even with all the drama goin on in his world simply outscored him. go look it up.

  • Comment number 39.

    OK football fans, stop telling us about a surprise. You all see Drogba display his skills and talents both nationally and internationally.
    Dgogba is the man for me and for some of you, he is the best. Go Dgogba Go! I am for you despite being a Sierra Leonean, you always have my vote.

  • Comment number 40.

    Exactly ma point.... another drogba fan without facts and reason. No one is saying drogba isnt a good player. he one of the best out there. Mr sierra leonean stick to the subject.

  • Comment number 41.

    Indeed, this is a strange pick!

    There is nothing wrong to be a fan or a supporter of a compatriot. But there is something wrong when such instincts and affiliations rise above our power of objectivity and critical thinking.

    If objective neutrality is properly adhered to, it becomes clear that Piers Edwards has a beautiful article that must be commended. And if we have to observe the rubrics of his write-up, time and space becomes critical ingredients. If this is true, then the period 01-01-2009 to 31-12-2009 and the performances of these players on and off the pitch in Africa and Europe should be our limits. I therefore have the impression that must of us have come short of objectivity and critical thinking.

    I am of the modest opinion that all these back-and-forth since this publication is because CAF has failed the people of Africa again. Indeed, for a very long time, I have neither seen nor understood the rationale of its awards, policies, programmes and actions. This group of people must give way for they have nothing new to offer because they have outlived their usefulness, if they ever had been useful.

    One thing is certain, if this mediocre trend if CAF is to continue, I won't be very surprise if the award of 2010 goes to someone else rather than Drogba.

    I really hope for that day when player(s) will refuse awards on the pretext that they under-performed even though they are nominated for an award by bias persons and organisations. This will be the height of fairness and fair-play

  • Comment number 42.

    Why are pundits always so anti-chelsea, how can you not be surprised? Drogba has been faultlessely consistent all season. Eto'o may be a great player but he has little consistency compared to Didier who I think is now at his peak in English football and I think he has been the best all-round striker this season (minus Rooney who is clearly not African!). It is no sursprise, Drogba deserves all the praise and and accolades he receives.

  • Comment number 43.

    just to add to my comment, i think whay fritzl said highlights my point that drogba is a much better player, he changes games, not only does he score goals but he creates chances with his incredible strength and athleticism. This is why I always think drogba is better than the likes of torres and eto'o who are a bit one dimensional, yes they score goals but that is there only input into a team.

  • Comment number 44.

    I made a slight mistake before. Eto'o only played 58 games not 59 (I was counting one where he was an unused sub). I couldn't find any information as to whether he played any competitive games between June and August but am assuming that since it was the close season he probably didn't.

    Eto'o played 21 La Liga games, 3 Copa Del Rey, 7 Champions League and 1 International at the end of 2008/2009 season. He scored 18 goals.
    After transferring to Inter, he played 16 Serie A games, 0 Coppa Italia, 6 Champions League, 4 Internationals at the beginning of the 2009/2010 season. He scored 12 goals.
    (La Liga has 38 games a season)

    Drogba scored 13 goals at the end of the 2008/2009 season and 23 goals at the beginning of the 2009/2010 season.

    I'll try to find another way of showing Drogba outscored Eto'o in 2009 if you want but I can't think of one at the moment other than their respective goal scoring records.

  • Comment number 45.

    Negative to comments about Drogba diving, that is past history, I don't think he does that now, for one thing, referees obviously have been warned and I think he's grown up... and I definitely believe he deserves this over Eto'o, if Eto'o is the next closest choice. I thought at one point, European football was teaming with Africans, they may be doing okay but I'd expect to see a few more on the top teams' squads.

  • Comment number 46.

    I don't understand what are talking about by strange pick I really don't. If Drogber is not performing well and proving to you and me that he us a good footballer, he will not be chosen. The milk ids already on the floor and you cannot cry over it.

    Thank you What_Would_Clough_do, please educate them that there is always room to grow.

  • Comment number 47.

    31 - Henry better than Eto'o last season? What season were you watching?

  • Comment number 48.

    A lil off topic here but jus to clear up the comment on post 40. Please refain from saying that the referee display in the chelsea barcelona semi final of last year was subject to 'errors' which anyone can make. because there are 4 officials one makes a mistake the others are there for support what Overbo did that game dented my trust in UEFA and frankly in the Champions league, Platini makes no effort to hide the fact he doesnt want an all english final again and chelsea are knocked out in contraversial circumstances a few days later please lets me objective and accept that either Overbo and his 3 assistants are a small group of supporters from the institute of the blind who accidently found their way onto the pitch or rather there is something a little fishy in either case its not AN error that chelsea were denied its a series of what i found to be the most abysmal officiating in any sport. im not taking anything away from barcelona as they kept fighting to the last second but to dismiss the tragic events which happened on that night by genuine football lovers and miraculously uefa is something i cannot come to terms with. anyway sorry for going off the point but it was a final which drogba deserved to be

  • Comment number 49.

    sorry the above comment was response to 38 not 40

  • Comment number 50.

    The tile of this blog immediately caught my attention.

    I wouldn't go as far as to say I was surprised by the decision, as lets face it there aren't that many other contenders for the title, - however looking at Drogba's performance throughout the whole of 09 he hasn't been what you would call 'award-worthy.'

    At the start of the year he was absolutely bismal (towards the end of Scolari's reign). There was talk of him leaving Chelsea in the January window. He looked disinterested and lacking fight, - the 3-0 thrashing to Man United sticking out particularly. His contribution in that game was to moan, wriggle around the fllor feigning injury, and slice Chelsea's best chance of the match from twelve almost out for a throw-in (to man united - no deflection).

    This season however he has been virtually unplayable and but for Wayne Rooney this would have got even more recognition, and he would also be favourite for PFA POTY.

    It just goes to show although they say the award is based on the performance of the playe all year round, - the latter half of the year (the one that is most recent in the memory) is by far the most important!

    The thought of Drogba winning this award in January would have ludicrous.

  • Comment number 51.

    First, I will like to congratulates Didier Drogba, the Ivorian Captain on winning the African Footballer of the year title but these questions readily come to my mind: Does he really deserve it? Did the judges get the decision right? And how good is Drogba?

    I really do acknowledge that based on last year's performances by Drogba and Eto'o, they both deserve the award but I would have probably said Eto'o deserves it mores because he had more achievement than Drogba did in 2009.This award was given to Drogba based on current form. Etoo performed better than Drogba in 2009.

    No doubt, Drogba has helped his country through a convincing World Cup qualifying campaign in 2009, scoring five goals as the Ivorians finished unbeaten and he also scored for Chelsea as they won the FA Cup final. He did this scoring a total of 14 goals, 5 league goals, 3 cup goals, 1 Carling cup goal and 5 goals in Europe. Eto'o was the spearhead of a Barcelona team that won a treble (La Liga, Copa Del Roy and the Champions League) and he scored in the champions league final. He did this scoring a total of 26 goals, 23 league goals,0cup goals and 3 goals in Europe.

    Well, that's talking about what it is and not what it should be on who deserves it or not, in my own innermost opinion, what should be and the ones that truly deserve this award are the players that ply their trade in Africa. I wonder how CAF and respective national federations are expected to motivate and improve on our various leagues in Africa if we continue giving the award to these players that play in Europe.

    This is what is obtainable in Europe, no matter what your nationality or continent is, once you play in Europe, you are qualify to be the European Footballer of the year (aka Balloon Dior). Why not apply same here as it will encourage transparency and players motivation in Africa. Just imagine that a Drogba has won the Balloon Dior in Europe, he would still come to Africa and win the award. That amount to wining the best of awards in 2 continents without playing in one. To me, that amount to double counting and serious robbery on the part of the true African players.

    I agree that, in the short term, it would remove the glamour from the occasion, but this is not about the occasion rather the bigger picture. talking about the occasion, how many of these players in Europe get to honor the presentations and eventually belittled what CAF was trying to achieve. At best, if we want to maintain the glamour, we can introduce something like Best Africa Footballer in foreign land or something that would be inclusive but not outright giving this honors to them.

    I think CAF should have a look at this selection basis and in the long run we will all benefit from it.

  • Comment number 52.

    finally we get some creative thoughts and thinking. first of all i appreciate the coments supperfly. then again adebayo nailed some of what i hav been tryn to emphasize. i am not the only one who thinks based on the whole 2009 year, eto'o more than deserved this award. certainly bbc reporter Pier Edwards, a ton of other observers which are too lenghty to list and strickingly even the winner of last year -Emmanuel adebayor who is a close friend to Didier drogba went out of his norms to openly say on canal+ that he thinks (or thought as we know it now) that Samuel eto'o should hav gone home with that trophy as a finalist with drogba.
    We are also forgetting this same eto'o was a finalist to be the world's best player in the YEAR 2009. Was the world blind to have nominated him? to go that far amongst the world's best? or even think he maybe should have won it even though messi equaly deserved it? there are too many things to be taken into consideration so we'll leave it at that for now.
    one clear take home message we shld take is, caf has a lot of changing to accomplish in terms of criteria and maybe administration. there are a lot of things and decisions that are not clear to a majority of the people which is what makes Africa premature in some ways.

  • Comment number 53.

    "Meanwhile, Eto'o was instrumental in Barcelona's historic Spanish league, cup and Champions League treble - plundering goals aplenty, including one in the European final against Manchester United (which made him one of only two men to have scored in different Champions League finals)."

    Can anyone tell me who the other player was? I've been googling it ad can't find the answer.

  • Comment number 54.

    Found it - Raul in 2000 and 2002. One to remember for a pub quiz!

  • Comment number 55.

    So taramos22 first you urge us to "LOOK UP THE OVERALL STATS FOR 2009" then you bemoan another "drogba fan without facts and reason" yet after being confronted with the facts (for the second time) you then proceed to give your opinion again, that Eto'o should have won.

    I don't disagree that the award should be based upon much more than the number of goals scored (it isn't a golden boot after all) but the way you earlier began to attack people's points that were contrary to yours now seems silly.

    51. Adebayo - good post, whilst I may disagree on some of the points about Drogba and whether some of Eto'o's acheivements should qualify him for this award (and lack of acheivement in the latter part of 2009 at Inter) I did like the last part. Perhaps CAF should change the award to make it solely for African players playing in Africa but this might have downsides too. African domestic football has nowhere near the global recognition that European football does. Games are not shown across the world, clubs are not followed in other continents to the same extent as say the Real Madrids and Manchester Uniteds, there is no Champions League either, broadcast in many countries and fueled by hundreds of millions of pounds worth of advertising.
    It is unfortunate fact that the best African players have to and do play outside of their continent (unfortunate for Africa only I guess as they bring so much quality to others elsewhere). The only hope of raising domestic league standards, increasing the money pumped in (and so the benefits that would bring) is perhaps to emphasise the strengths and stars of current African football. They are almost all in Europe and out of the continent. The awards in their current format are a very good thing in my opinion, perhaps they could have another category for players playing in Africa or even another set of awards.
    African football at the stage it is at should celebrate what they have and what they have got are players like Samuel Eto'o, Didier Drogba, Michael Essien and Yaya Toure etc. Players at the very top and of the highest calibre...

  • Comment number 56.

    comment aprreciated sam. thats why this is a debate forum. if we have to post up numbers to state our fact, they have to be accurate. if u can find the earlier article when the bbc african footballer of the year was being considered; it had actual numbers of # of goals scored by both players and eto'o had a huge gap on goals. it was in the neighbourhood of atleast 10 goals clear.
    since then eto'o has had a very slow season for the first time in i wld say at least 6 years now. ever since he made his debut in mallorca, he hasnt looked back. he has been in the top. even during his knee injury 2 years ago, he didnt get the picici after seatin out for at least 3 months....and he still ended that season with 22 goals. (talk about consistency) for the fisrt time in a Very long time, he's having a slow start... and may som ppl do not understand, but work very hard somday with a frachise and help them win important trophies for the first time in history only for them to stab u in the back cld make any human feel like'whats the use?'
    it happens to every1. like ade said earlier, drogba had a slow start in the 2009 year(well...mayb bcos of similar reasons) but what sticks into ppl is the present. plain and simple.
    talk about adding another soccer punch.... switchin eto'o(one of the wrld's best) in addition to another player plus $64million with Ibra.... wow. hws that for a psychy?

  • Comment number 57.

    Did anyone watch the game between catania and inter milan? if anyone did, pls tell what etoo's reaction was after he gave the assist to milito for the first goal of the game? or mayb the journalists comment. that may give some ppl a little inside to the psychy i refered to above.

  • Comment number 58.

    I nearly crashed my car when I heared on the BBC radio that Drogba has won the 2009 African footballer of the year award. For Drogba to have won the 2009 African footballer award ahead over Samuel Eto'o is a total farce.
    If you are talking about the best African player for 2010 I will easily vote for Drogba. Eto'o was unstoppable last season willing three trophies with his club side barcelonia and capping it up in May by becoming the first and only African player to score in two champion's league finals. I think he deserves the award last season than the previous he had won and far more than any other african player.

    Silas Eziehi

  • Comment number 59.

    Asian footballer of the year award 2009 was awarded to a player playing in Asia, South American player of the year was also awarded to a player playing in South American league. considering Messi's exploits with Barcelonia last season where he won both the European and world footballer awards, he was not even considered for south American player of year award for 2009. So why is CAF still Awarding African footballer award to a player who is not playing in Africa. African footballer of the year should and must go to an player playing in African league period.

  • Comment number 60.

    The only post that made sense to me here is post no 59 by arisen10. I have said it some many times that both Drodg and Eto'o are not suppose to be eligible for this award, in fact any African player playing outside African continent is not eligible. Our own will not be different, let them give it to any player that plays in African league, we need to start recognizing and encouraging those good players playing in African league by giving them this award. This is how Its done in other leagues all over the world.Drog and Eto should go and contest where they play (Europe). they don't lay in African. finish ,debate ends!

  • Comment number 61.

    I think this is a debate that could go on and on, and is likely to continue after tonight's mouth-watering clash between Chelsea and Inter Milan at Stamford Bridge, where our key protagonists are of course going head-to-head - as they've done regularly over the years, whether in Europe or the Nations Cup itself.

    But this is 2010 not 2009, and nothing will dissuade me from believing Eto'o deserved this prize last year - although if the award was for player of the 2009/2010 season, then I wholeheartedly agree that Drogba would be the man because he's been on fire and back to his imperious best (and certaily banishing the memories of that horrendous display at Old Trafford in Jan 2009 - as Jamie Riley [#50] recalls).

    There's been a lot of talk about the criteria which Caf uses to judge this award so it might be helpful to share that with you, even though IMHO it actually does little to separate the pair...

    From the Caf website: 'Any player of African origin playing within or outside Africa and excels above all in terms of achievement and performance during the year under review. The following is the basic criteria:
    - The performance of the player at national and international levels
    - The consistency of his performance
    - His sports achievements
    - His charisma and influence
    - His popularity'

    (I'm not sure what the last one has to do with anything but that's another matter.)

    There was also some talk about the award being categorised solely for overseas-based players but as seen from above, this is for all African footballers. There is of course an award for Africa's best domestically-based player although in reality it tends to be won by someone who's performed well in the Caf club competitions rather than just his domestic league: this year, it was Tresor Mputu Mabi who plays for African champions TP Mazembe in his native DR Congo. But not for much longer we're led to believe, with a June move in the offing - to Europe of course...

  • Comment number 62.

    Thanks for the words of wisdom Piers E. I think u nailed all points right on the head. That's all the creative and reasonable thinking all of us football fans should have.

  • Comment number 63.

    Tonoght, Eto'o has just proved the point! He is in his own league, his transfer to Inter notwithstanding.

  • Comment number 64.

    Piers Edwards@61

    I call your 'basic criteria', 'broad outlines' because each one of them could, in turn, give rise to between 11 to 32 bullet points. Sorry, but the question still remains unanswered.

  • Comment number 65.

    # 11 akaexpensesfiddler
    I agree with you re the criteria for deciding who wins APOY. I'm convinced some coaches have already decided who they're voting for as APOY 2010.

    Regarding the vuvuzee I think it's a bit of a "marmite", you either hate it or love it. I think South Africa is going to need it to have any chance of getting past the group stages. They can only vuvu their way out of the group stages.

    One thing I like to correct though is your impression that those in Africa do not have access to sky sports and so cannot see European football matches. I live in the UK and have to pay to watch EPL matches whereas those in Ghana e.g. watch them free on terrestrial TV. I regularly get my live updates on matches from Ghana where large screens are increasingly popping out at street corners and drinking bars like mushrooms on EPL match days.

  • Comment number 66.

    Well there goes Africa's best player -drogba, showing the world once again- for the third time now how the game is played (by standing on a player's foot). what a shame!!!
    Meanwhile the true best-eto'o just made it loud and very clear why a greater majority know he shld hav been crownd.

  • Comment number 67.

    Drogba are you serious? what did he do last year ! nothing seriously he doesnt even deserve to be voted in that catrogettry abou treika,ahamed hassan and etoo have all been better perfromeres in the last year than him and hes get this year i havent seen a more flukey award given since ryan giggs won bbc personality of the year you can tell this is based on reputations rather than form or perfromances

  • Comment number 68.

    I am from Bhutan and great fan of Chelsea. Regarding the African Footballer of the year, for me Didier Drogba deserve to be a winner. After Scoring many goals in premier league and in International game, Drogba deserve the most. But never to ignore Eto, Essien and lot more. this time Drogba deserve to win.

  • Comment number 69.

    if we look at the performance of Drogba in English Premier league, says it all. He has great body power, powerful header and strikes the ball very well. and same with Michel Essien but for him due to injury, Essein is unable to score many goals as that of Drogba and Eto.

    But nevertheless he will be in action back soon.


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