The New African Soccer-organised African Player of the Month award programme in the English Premier League returns after the summer break. And according to Awards Director and CEO of the outfit ‘Tunde Adelakun, it has returned with a bang.
“The awards programme was an immense success last season. We were proud of what we achieved, the involvement of fans and media colleagues, and how it made our winning players feel when we went to make the presentation to each of them, from August 2014 through till May this year”, Adelakun said in a statement.
Players like Stoke’s Mame Biram Diouf, Kenyan Southampton star Victor Wanyama, Diafra Sakho of West Ham, the great Yaya Toure from Manchester City, Sadio Mane and Chelsea legend Didier Drogba all got awards in various months of the last season, and Adelakun believes that it has strengthened the African appeal in the Premier League.
“Whether it was coincidence or not, the appeal of the African player in England has grown stronger. There were many African players in the Premier League last season, and this season, it has increased even more”, the Director of New African Soccer continued.
The number of Africans signed in the English Premier League has topped 55 this season, and it is presenting the organisers with a different type of worry; according to Adelakun.
‘These guys have made the selection process so difficult for us - they have all hit the ground running”, the statement added. “In the opening weekend of the Premier League, 20 goals were scored on day one, and of these 20, 8 were scored by Africans. It has continued in this way all through the first 4 weeks of the season”.
The statement went further to announce a shortlist of three nominees for the August award, and Adelakun was quick to point out how difficult a task it has been.
“Reigning African Player of the Year Yaya Toure of Manchester City leads the way, with a commanding performance in all four games he has featured in. Scoring two and providing 4 assists is no mean feat for a team that really set its stall out very early in its desire to reclaim the Premier League crown surrendered to Chelsea. He has been magnificent.
“Algeria’s Leicester City forward Riyad Mahrez was also on the shortlist, and it is no surprise. Mahrez is joint top scorer with 4 goals from 4 games, in an unbeaten 4-game spell for the team that battled to survive relegation last season. Mahrez has really come into his own this season and it is a thrill to see him doing what he is doing”.
The statement went further to add Ghana’s Swansea City import - Andre Ayew - as the final entrant into the shortlist. Aye was a summer signing for Swansea and has exploded on to the scene in the League, "taking to it like a natural”, according to the statement.
“Ayew has scored 3 goals in four games, and put in a man of the match performance for Swansea against two of the top teams in England - Chelsea and Manchester United”.
The statement concluded by calling on colleagues in the media, as well as African football followers to join in the voting process in selecting the winner of the African Player of the month of August.
“We want to continue to celebrate our stars, and serve as inspiration to them all, and show them that the pride that they give us through their performances, is noticed and appreciated. And we call on everyone concerned to show an interest in it and join us in continuing to celebrate these guys”.