Black Stars skipper Stephen Appiah is backing his midfield partner at the national team, Michael Essien, to be named Africa's best player for 2006.
Appiah says Essien has been in phenomenal form for both club and country in the 2006 football season and should win the award ahead of Samuel Eto'o and Didier Drogba, both strikers.
Ahead of the CAF awards ceremony here in Ghana in March, Joy Sports has been speaking to Essien's colleague professionals on who they think should win the award.
At the recently organized charity game at Sekondi involving a host of professionals halved into teams led by former national stars Tony Yeboah and Tony Baffoe, Joy Sports reporter Kuuku Yankah sought the views of three other former Black Stars greats, Augustine Arhinful, Foster Bastios and Odartey Lamptey on who deserved to win the CAF Award.
For Bastios, no other player deserves the award better than Essien because “he is my countryman and he has played well too.”
Arhinful thinks Barcelona's Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o, three times winner and holder of the 2005 award deserves the award again for even though he has not been active for some time now since his injury, he did enough to win.
Odartey Lamptey however thinks Ivorian Didier Drogba, Essien's mate at Chelsea, should be the winner because “he's played well for the Ivory Coast and particularly in the Cup of Nations and he is scoring marvellous goals for Chelsea.”
Drogba, Eto'o and Essien have all enjoyed outstanding performances and the CAF released the top three nominees for the 2006 African Player of the Year Award at the weekend.
Nwankwo Kanu and Mohammed Aboutraika missed out after being included in the initial five-man shortlist.