The International Conference Centre in Abuja, Nigeria, will explode into a cacophony of excitement tonight as a rich deluxe of African football personalities congregate for the Glo-CAF Awards.
Expected to be staged amid heavy security in view of the activities of Boko Haram (an Islamic extremist group based in northeastern Nigeria ), the alluring showpiece is expected to congregate first-rate football celebrities across Africa, the reigning African Footballer of the Year and winners in 12 other categories, as well as top government officials from Nigeria, Ghana and other parts of Africa.
As usual, the Awards and possible winners have been the focus of discussions in the media and among avid football fans and youth across Africa.
Ghana’s Andre Dede Ayew, who plays for English side Swansea City and Gabon’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (German club Borussia Dortmund) are expected to ‘conspire viciously’ to ensure that reigning champion Cote d’Ivoire’s Yaya Toure does not clinch the ‘Holy Grail’ for an incredible fifth time in succession.
The two players have churched out some sublime, chocolate-box performances for their European clubs last year – and one of them is odds-on-favourites to knock off Toure from the throne.
Experts of the continental game, however, believe, Yaya could extend his record a notch further with another coronation, having led Cote d’Ivoire to Nations Cup victory in 2015 – as the Elephants defeated Ghana via the lottery of shoot-out, after 120 minutes of gut-wrenching football.
The Ivorian has also been in a sparkling shape for his English club side Manchester City, smashing home some bewitchingly dazzling goals in the season.
Tonight’s event will also see Ghana legend C.K. Gyamfi being honoured post-humously.
Gyamfi, who passed on last September, was the first African player to feature in the German league, when he joined Fortuna Dusseldorf in 1960. He also captained the national team, Black Stars.
On three glorious occasions (1963, 1965 and 1982), he spearheaded the Stars to Nations Cup victory. Gyamfi equally handled the Ghana national football team during their Olympic debut at the 1964 Summer Olympics and the 1972 edition.
These feats made him the most successful African national team coach – a record he held until Egypt’s Hassan Shehata also clinched a third Nations Cup title in 2010.
Tonight’s extravaganza will parade some of the continent’s fine musicians including Ghana’s dance-hall artiste Charles Nii Armah Mensah Jnr – popularly known as Shatta Wale.
The inaugural edition of the Glo-CAF Awards was held in 2005 – followed by Accra, Ghana in 2006; Lome, Togo hosted the 2007 edition, while the event was held in Lagos, Nigeria, for the first time in 2008 before it moved back to Accra in 2009. Cairo, the capital of Egypt staged the 2010 edition.
The event was again held back-to-back in Accra, Ghana, between 2011 and 2012, while Lagos hosted the 2013 and 2014 editions.
By John Vigah