Quao explains his AFS POTY votes
Citi FM’s Nathan Quao, who was part of the Africa Football Shop Player of the Year voting panel, explains his picks and discusses why Yaya Toure was his indisputable Number One.
It’s no surprise to me that Yaya Toure has been named as the continent’s Number One by the African Football Writers.
The Ivorian midfielder had a 2014, in terms of his club career, that was simply stunning.
He scored 20 times for Manchester City as they went on to win their second EPL title and he rose to become on the team’s most important players.
The tally equalled Frank Lampard’s number for the highest goal tally for a midfielder.
Yaya Toure (Manchester City, Cote d’Ivoire)
He managed to blend power, presence and technical ability together such that he could protect his defence in one instance and move up the pitch to be part of a goal-scoring routine either by assisting or finding the target.
However, international duty did not bring much joy as Cote d’Ivoire’s great start to the 2014 World Cup (a 2-1 win over Japan) shockingly tapered into sadness after they failed to make the knockout stages of the tournament.
But that blot does not take a lot from Toure. He still makes my top picks for being Africa’s most outstanding player across top four European leagues with a magnificent Manchester City team.
Asamoah Gyan (Ghana, Al-Ain)
The Black Stars skipper’s 2014 may not have stolen headlines because of his choice of workstation and his country’s World Cup episode, but he had a year where his goalscoring numbers were quite remarkable.
He scored his 45th goal for Ghana against Guinea and leads the scoring charts for the Black Stars.
Aside captaining Ghana to the World Cup to Brazil, the former Stade Rennes man put away 44 goals in 40 appearances across the 2013-14 season for his club Al-Ain.
12 of those sent him to the top of the Asian Champions League scoring charts and, for his efforts, he was awarded the Best Foreign Player in Asia.
He may have presided over a terrible 2014 World Cup campaign where his team-mates were involved in strikes over unpaid appearance fees and the subjects of an incredulous saga of receiving $3 million in cash from the Ghanaian government during the tournament.
However, Gyan, on an individual level, left Brazil with his own prize as his two goals against Germany and Portugal made him Africa’s all-time leading scorer at the World Cup with six goals.
Those goals even led to former Holland international Ruud Van Nistelrooy wondering why Gyan was not playing in Europe because he possessed enough quality to do so.
Getting a ‘thumbs –up’ from a man who got paid for putting balls into the net is ample praise for the 29-year old to be among the top three picks for the Africa Football Shop-Player of the Year award.
Vincent Enyeama (Lille, Nigeria)
It seems 2014 is one year where goalies are also pushing for the top awards.
Manuel Neuer is gunning for the World Player of the Year title and his African brother, Vincent Enyeama, is in a good position to win the African award.
The Nigerian’s year was amazing for his club side Lille as he went on a shutout spree that lasted for 1,062 minutes. He kept making save after save and almost equalled Gaetan Huard’s Ligue 1 record of 1,176 minutes without conceding.
He led Nigeria to the 2014 World Cup and just like he did in South Africa four year earlier, he kept saving the shots but more significantly, his abilities were the basis for the Super Eagles’ progression to the second round of the World Cup since 1998.
He kept two clean sheets against Iran and Bosnia and that one in particular was perhaps the ticket to face France and not the goal scored by Peter Odemwingie.
Enyeama also kept Nigeria in close proximity as they lost 3-2 to Argentina at the World Cup. Messi may have found the elusive strikes he so chased in 2010 but Enyeama also showed how top-class he also was by stopping the Argentine so many times.
Nigeria failed to reach the 2015 AFCON but it cannot mask Enyeama’s wonderful 2014 and that’s surely why the Africa Football Shop panel of experts have named him in their top three for the year.