Yaya Toure poised for CAF award hat-trick
London: Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure will be the favourite to win a third straight Confederation of African Football (CAF) Footballer of the Year Award on Thursday.
The Ivory Coast international, who picked up the BBC African Footballer of the Year title in December for the first time, has won the previous two editions of the award, in 2011 and 2012.
Compatriot Didier Drogba, of Galatasaray, and Nigeria midfielder John Obi Mikel are the other two players in the reckoning for the award, which will be announced in Nigeria`s financial capital, Lagos.
Toure, 31 in May, may not have won a major trophy for club and country last year but his class has shone through at both domestic level and for the Elephants of Ivory Coast.
His closest rival will be Mikel, 26, who helped Nigeria win the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa and also featured in Chelsea`s UEFA Europa League win.
Former Arsenal striker Nwankwo Kanu was the last Nigerian star to win the prestigious award in 1999.
Ex-Stamford Bridge favourite Drogba, 35, was runner-up in 2012 but won the CAF award in 2006 and 2009.
Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi is meanwhile in line to become only the third Nigerian to be named the continent`s best coach.
He guided Nigeria to a third Nations Cup trophy and in November steered the Super Eagles to qualification for their fifth World Cup finals.
Manu Garba, who led Nigeria to win a fourth under-17 World Cup last year, and Belgian coach Paul Put, who handled Burkina Faso to reach the final of the 2013 Nations Cup, are the other nominees.
Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Ethiopia will contest for the National Team of the Year, while Al Ahly of Egypt, Tunisia`s CS Sfaxien and Orlando Pirates from South Africa will vie for the Club of the Year.
Cairo giants Ahly extended their dominance in the CAF Champions League when they won an eighth trophy at the expense of Orlando Pirates, while Sfaxien won a third CAF Confederation Cup title.
Saleh Gomaa, of Egypt`s under-20 team, Ghana under-20`s Ebenezer Assifuah, and Nigeria`s star of the under-17 World cup, Kelechi Iheanacho, will battle for the Most Promising Talent Award.