The International Conference Centre, Accra will be the cynosure of all eyes on Thursday evening when top and prominent African football figures converge for Africa’s showpiece reward event, the Aiteo CAF Awards.
The 2017 edition of the Awards will be the first under the title sponsorship of Energy solution company AITEO and has already been boosted by the expected participation of at least two of the top contenders for the flagship award, the African Footballer of the Year.
Liverpool FC of England stars Egyptian Mohamed Salah and Senegalese Sadio Mane who are in the final shortlist of three for the Player of the Year award alongside 2015 winner Pierre Emerick Aubameyang have been confirmed to be in Accra for the event in spite of their club’s game against Everton a day later.
Salah who narrowly missed out on the Nations Cup title in February after the Pharaohs lost to Cameroon in the final led the Egyptians to their first World Cup qualification success in 27 years and has been in a devastating scoring form since completing his move to Anfield last summer. He has already landed the 2017 BBC African Footballer of the Year prize.
His club mate Sadio Mane also played a huge part in a new generation Senegalese side which qualified for the World Cup in November after a 15-year absence. Aubameyang who had a great 2016/17 season with his German side Borussia Dortmund makes up the final shortlist.
In the Women’s category, Nigerian superstar Asisat Oshoala is again the favourite to land the gong for the third time in four years. She is joined in Accra by Chrestina Kgatlana (South Africa) and Gabrielle Aboudi Onguene (Cameroon).
Other categories of the awards include the Promising talent of the year, Coach of the year; National team of the year; Club of the year and Women’s national team of the year.
From Abedi Pele, winner of the maiden edition of the top gong in 1992 through to the reigning King Riyad Mahrez, all former winners will be given prominence at Thursday’s ceremony designed to celebrate the key players of African football.
Other former winners in Accra are Nigerian trio, Emmanuel Amuneke, Nwankwo Kanu and Victor Ikpeba, Cameroonian and four-time winner, Samuel Eto’o Fils and compatriot Patrick Mboma, Ivorian Yaya Toure, a four-time winner and countryman Didier Drogba and El Hadji Diouf of Senegal while not forgetting Mustapha Hadji of Morocco, Malian Frederic Kanoute, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Gabon and Togolese Emmanuel Adebayor.
Thursday’s event will start at 6pm local time and 7pm Nigerian time.