Drogba and Essien up for African award

JOHANNESBURG - Former winners Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto'o have been nominated along with Michael Essien for the 2009 African Footballer of the Year award, the Confederation of African Football said on Wednesday.

Inter Milan striker Eto'o, who scored for his previous club Barcelona in the Champions League final which they won in May and netted eight goals in the World Cup qualifiers for Cameroon, will start as favourite ahead of the two Chelsea players.

Eto'o won the award in 2003, 2004 and 2005 while Drogba was the winner in 2006.

Drogba was also expected to win in 2007 but refused to attend the award ceremony, held in the middle of the 2008 African Nations Cup finals in Ghana, and it was given to Frederic Kanoute of Mali.

Drogba subsequently said he no longer wished to be considered for the award. The 2008 award was won by Emmanuel Adebayor of Togo.

Essien has finished in the top three for the last four years but has never won the award, which is decided by a poll of African national team coaches.

The 2009 winner will be named on March 11 in Accra, Ghana.