CAF to set new date for awards

January 5, 2006

JOHANNESBURG, Jan 5 (Reuters) - The Confederation of African Football will decide later this month on a new date to announce the African Footballer of the Year award after abruptly postponing next Monday's scheduled ceremony in Abuja, Nigeria.

CAF said its executive committee would decide on a new date when they meet in Cairo on January 16 just days before the start of the African Nations Cup finals in Egypt.

The award was due to be handed out at CAF's annual awards ceremony which this year was to be hosted in the Nigerian capital.

But CAF earlier this week said the event had been postponed, citing 'a technical reason' without giving further details.

Cameroonian striker Samuel Eto'o is seeking to win the award for a third successive year but faces stiff opposition from the Chelsea pair of Didier Drogba and Michael Essien.

The award is decided by a vote of the continent's national team coaches.

Drogba has narrowly beaten Eto'o to the 2005 Golden Lion prize for the best African footballer, a poll which has become a traditional indicator of the destiny of the African Footballer of the Year award.

Drogba finished just two points ahead of Eto'o in the vote conducted by the Moroccan sports newspaper Al Mountakhab, which usually provides a strong indication of the outcome of the more prestigious African Footballer of the Year award.

The Ivory Coast international, whose side qualified for the World Cup finals in Germany in dramatic fashion last October, finished with 146 points to Eto'o's 144 in the poll of sports journalists from across the African continent.

Essien was a distant third with 54 points.

The Golden Lion prize is one of a handful of smaller plebiscites organised annually by various African and international publications.