DRC dominate in CAF’s top players list



With the exception of Shabanie Nonda, most of the Congolese players seemed to have dominated the soccer circles in the early 50s and 70s. CAF has organised a voting system through its website inviting internet users to choose the best player, as part of its activities to mark its fiftieth anniversary, next year.

Zambia has the second highest number of entries, with Kalusha Bwalya being named twice in two decades from 1980 to the present day. From the late Godfery Chitalu in the seventies to Efford Chabala in the eighties and Kenneth Malitoli of the current generation, Zambia has a total of nine players short listed for the award.

Fans can either pick a player from the list or nominate one of their own, explaining their reasons with a brief message.

South African trio of Mark Fish, Benni McCarthy and defender Lucas Radebe are the only Bafana Bafana players listed, as the country only joined international competitive soccer in the mid-nineties when it was readmitted into FIFA, after the fall of the apartheid regime.

Zimbabwe’s Peter Ndhlovu and goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar are also within the South African category of the period 1990 to 2006. CAF seems to have deliberately isolated players like South African Jomo Sono who played during the apartheid era

A surprise inclusion is that of Malawian forward Clifton Msiya in the mid eighties, while notable omissions are that of Zimbabwean George Shaya and the late Ugandan midfielder Majid Musisi.

According to the CAF, the vote expires on 15 November, following which the continental mother-body will determine the top 50 players voted for by the public.

Then, from December until 8 February, the date in 1957 when African football’s ruling body was founded in Khartoum, Caf will publish the favored 50 players in descending order (ending with the public’s favoured choice).

The players were short-listed according to their significant performance on a continental level in the last 50 years. The selection was made on the basis of national, regional and continental performance, as well as FIFA World Cup and Olympic tournament.

In order to give old and new generation of players equal chances, considering the fact that older generation of players did not enjoy the media impact, it has been decided to assign a coefficient to each of the four periods.

Despite the incomparable difference between SADC players to the West and North Africans listed by CAF, it is the name of George Weah that seems by far the greatest name to emerge out of African soccer. As much as Cameroonians certainly hope that Roger Milla is Africa’s greatest find, Egyptians would also put their money on winger Hossam Hassan, but if records are to have a say, George Weah, will lead the pack.

The Liberian’s records speak for itself: African player of the year( 1989,1994 and 1995), European Player of the year, FIFA World Footballer of the Year, Onze Mondial Award, Fifa Fair Play award 1996, Fifa World Footballer of the Year Runner-up, among others.

Namibian football expert Mario Carreira, interviewed by Southern Times, said CAF’s system is not the best in selecting the continent’s best player, “because people will vote for their compatriots with very few cross-national choices and that might leave players like Weah at a disadvantage because their population and computer literacy level is smaller compared to Nigeria.”

Carreira further observed that CAF’s time span is too vast, since today’s African soccer no longer has one hero, unlike five decades ago. “It was going to be more fair to split the award in two cycles of 25 years each, because at the moment Samuel Etoo is the greatest find of the continent, but we had the exploits of other eminent and supremely talented footballers like Algeria’s Rabah Madjer back in the days.”

Another analyst, Ghanaian born Jacks Amaning told the Southern Times that CAF had done justice to remember the people that brought soccer where it is today, “but 50 years is too long. Those from the 70s, 60s and 50s might not be known or noticed by the current generation,” he said. Amaning is of the view that the confederation should have done much to differentiate between skills and natural talents, as players like Jay Jay Okocha are a “different breed” besides the fact that he scored CAF’s 1000th goal at the 2006 African Nations Cup.

The Confederation is planning several events to commemorate the date, including a youth tournament involving Caf’s four founder members ‘ Egypt, Ethiopia, South Africa and Sudan.

October 2006
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