Controversy is never far away whenever the continent gathers to award its best footballers. Thursday night's event at the Accra International Conference Center did not disappoint in that regard, leaving questions from our readers.
Joy Sports Gary Al-Smith was there to cover it, and attempts to answer some of the concerns.
Why were the awards held in Accra and not in Lagos or Abuja as usual? – Syrillia, C6, Tema.
This decision was announced in October 2016 after Globacom withdrew from sponsoring. CAF First Vice President Kwesi Nyantakyi was put in charge of the award’s Local Organising Committee. In plain English, he takes credit for any successes or failures experienced on Thursday.
Has Accra hosted the event before? – Patrick, Bawku.
Yes, in 2009 (Adebayor won top prize for 2008 football year) and 2012 (Yaya Toure).
Why was there so much music at an events meant for football honours? – Villash, Abeokuta.
It’s been a tradition of the CAF awards to, over the years, showcase African music. Occasionally, organisers have imported acts from outside the continent. It does tend to be a bit much, to be fair…
And why did Nigerian artistes dominate what should have been a pan-African event? – Bertrand, Paris.
Theories have included the fact that Aiteo, the event sponsor, is from that country. But that’s strange, because they would, and should, have known that you cannot populate an event meant to unite the continent with artistes predominantly from one nation. Ghanaian musician Efya started the show with her country’s national anthem, while rising star Kidi performed after the event was closed. DRC star Fally Ipupa passed through, as well as Togolese singer Toofan. The rest of the performers were all Nigerian.
Why did Shatta Wale not perform? – Takyi, B/A; Ambrose, Abuja; Leonitta, Newcastle.
Despite the aggressive nature of his brand, Shatta Wale performed at the 2015 CAF awards (held in January 2016)in Abuja to widespread acclaim, ditching his usual rambunctious stage style for a mellow and classy showing. He was told, a few weeks ago, that he was up for an encore at Thursday’s event. Accordingly, he supplied his list of songs to be performed, and he even made it to the soundcheck rehearsal on Thursday.
It is not clear what happened from there. Depending on who you believe, Shatta and WizKid could not agree on the order of performance. Others also say the Ghanaian superstar being in same space as WizKid, with whom he has had problems in recent months, caused some friction. A third theory says Shatta was late for rehearsals, something which several officials with knowledge of the situation, have denied.
Bottom line is: he was expected to perform. He did not.
Is Aubameyang a musician? His dressing has always been an issue when it comes to CAF awards. – Chris Tornado, Tamale.
Well, it’s Aubameyang. The Gabonese star is not exactly a conformist. He appeared in black and gold, looking like the lead character in an African edition of Aladdin…
How did Aubameyang and Mane not make the Team of the Year? – Afi Jane, North Kaneshie
One explanation is that this year, this was voted for, by fans. Hence, it was technically a selection by fans. Still, it’s a bit strange to see the duo make the three-man shortlist but not Team of the Year.
So, who made the team of the year? – Tsisah, Ho; Marricke, Libreville.
Goalkeeper: Ayman Mathlouthi (Tunisia)
Defenders: Ali Maaloul (Tunisia), Eric Bailly (Ivory Coast), Ahmed Fathy (Egypt)
Midfielders: Achraf Bencharki (Morocco), Karim El Ahmadi (Morocco), Mohammed Ounajem (Morocco), Junior Ajayi (Nigeria)
Forwards: Khalid Boutaïb (Morocco), Tahayassin Khenissi (Tunisia), Mohamed Salah (Egypt)
Any other notable absentees? – Stanford, Walewale.
Yes, Nigeria’s Victor Moses. Senegal’s Keita Balde.
Any other eyebrow-raising awards? – Tsisah, Ho.
Yes. Cameroon won the African Cup of Nations, CAF’s flagship competition, in 2017 after being written off by many experts. Somehow, Egypt, who came second at that tournament, was crowned team of the Year.
What’s the voting breakdown for the main award? – McCain, Huxley; Siboniso, Pretoria.
Mohamed Salah – 625 points
Sadio Mane – 507
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 311
How were the votes done for the main African Player of the Year award? – Adeyele, Surulere.
There were three phases. According to the CAF website:
Phase 1: CAF Technical & Development Committee, CAF Panel of Media Experts, Independent Media & TV Consultants.
Phase 2: Head Coaches and Captains of the National Associations affiliated to CAF made their choices and Independent Media & TV Consultants
Phase 3: Public Vote via: Facebook – CAF’s official page, CAF’s Twitter handles in English and Arabic.
Other categories were voted for by CAF Technical & Development Committee, CAF Panel of Media Experts, Independent Media & TV Consultants.
Why did previous sponsors, Globacom, pull out? – Anta, Sokoto.
While CAF President Ahmad said Globacom gave no reason for not continuing their relationship with the awards, a senior official of the telecom outfit who spoke on the matter tells Myjoyonline, “We did not see the benefits of associating ourselves with the awards any longer.” Did they have challenges dealing with CAF? “Not major problems,” came the reply. “Our needs for exposure are changing and we see the need to put our monies elsewhere”.
Does Aiteo have any track record with football? – Mel, Ashtown.
Aiteo styles itself as an energy solutions company. They’ve only recently started dabbling in football, with sponsorships of some Nigerian tournaments. Putting their name on the CAF awards is a quantum leap for them, and they did look out of their depth at this first attempt.
How was organization? – Juneidi, Harar.
A shambles. Complete, and utter shambles. We would need a drink to begin chronicling the problems with timing, fixing event logistics and so on. Delegation was a huge challenge as the sponsor wanted to micr-manage every single detail. CAF, being experienced with dealing with overbearing sponsors, just sat back and allowed Aiteo to be in charge.
Why were there two different sets of event compères? – Francis, Nairobi.
This is not the norm with CAF awards, where there is a male and female to move proceedings along. It was yet another conflict between the event sponsor and the football governing body. The combo of football legend Didier Drogba and SuperSport’s South African presenter Carol Tshabalala (below, pictured) was preferred by CAF; Boris Kodjoe and his wife Nicole Ari Parker (above, pictured) wanted by the sponsor. After a lot of back and forth, all parties decided to keep the four. (Both photos courtesy Images Image/ Senyuiedzorm Adadevoh)
How would you rate them? – Nana Qwabyna, Maryland.
Drogba has never done anything like this before, but he was efficient. He did not have panache, he just did the job. Carol, several years a broadcaster, was smooth and guided the footballer well; a natural.
Boris has emceed several high profile events, and he was comfortable. His wife, however, was clearly a mistake as was evident from the start. She looked, and sounded, too excited just to be on that stage. And a lot of her frills were forced. Her jumpy nature impacted her combo with hubby, marking them down significantly.
After a few years of good choices with broadcasters Robert Marawa, Mimi Fawaz, actors Juliet Ibrahim, Richard Mofe-Damijo, and Joselyn Dumas, this year’s name were not very inspired.
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