Ghanaian fans have condemned CAF’s five-man shortlist for the 2012 African Footballer of the Year over the exclusion of Zambia captain Chris Katongo.
Katongo, who led less-fancied Zambia to win the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations title in January, was left out of the five-man shortlist led by Didier Drogba.
The China-based Chipolopolo captain’s exclusion led to discussion by almost all the radio stations in Accra on Saturday with all bemoaning the exclusion of the most valuable player of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.
Drogba, now at Shanghai Shenhua in China, and compatriot Yaya Toure, of English champions Manchester City, join Senegal’s Demba Ba, of Newcastle United, Marseille’s Ghana forward Andre Ayew and Cameroon’s Alexandre Song, of Barcelona on the list.
The inclusion of Ba and Song coupled with the exclusion of Katongo which has sparked anger among Black Stars fans.
Despite leading Zambia to back to back victories over Ghana this year, Ghanaian fans called into several radio stations on Saturday to slam the decision by CAF.
“This (Katongo’s exlcusion) is very very shameful. I feel horrified by the decision by CAF and the leaders including Hayatou should bow their heads down in shame,” ace commentator Kwabena Yeboah told Joy FM.
“It is criminal to exclude Katongo from the CAF five-man shortlist. He stood very tall this year and to exclude him shows CAF has completely gone bonkers,” a fan Kwame Appeadu told Peace FM.
Another football fan said: “The exclusion of Katongo shows that CAF is totally ignorant of the game it runs. Katongo has done more than any African player in Africa this year.”
Sam Amoah added: “Hayatou and his folks are out here to deny a genuine contender for the award. They should now tell us that its no good playing at the AFCON.”
While others concentrated on Katongo, many others slammed the inclusion on Ba and Song claiming CAF’s bias towards Francophone played a role in their inclusion.
Senegal bombed out of the Africa Cup of Nations at the first round while Song’s Cameroon failed to qualify and both of them won no titles at club level.
“Ba and Song did nothing for their countries and clubs to deserve a place in the African best shortlist. This is a sick joke from CAF,” Issaka Amadu told another radio station.
Katongo has steadily risen to stardom over the last 10 years, having made his name at Green Buffaloes between 2003 and 2004, and culminating with the 2012 AfCON trophy last February.
One of his lesser known feats at Buffaloes saw him score four goals in one game at the 2003 and 2004 editions of the Confederation Cup in 5-0 and 6-1 wins over Saint Michel of the Seychelles and DR Congo side DC Motema Pembe respectively.
However, unlike most of his Zambia teammates who rose from Under-17 and 20 levels, Katongo was a late bloomer and his path to Chipolopolo stardom began at Under-23 level.
He was part of the 2003 All-Africa Games team that finished fourth in Abuja, scoring just one goal at the tournament and another in the qualifiers.
Katongo made his Africa Cup debut in Egypt in 2006 where Zambia exited at the group stages, but not before scoring in Chipolopolo’s 1-0 win over South Africa.
A year later, he famously scored a hat-trick against South Africa in a 3-1 win in Cape Town to help Zambia secure qualification to the 2008 Nations Cup.
His club career has taken him from Jomo Cosmos in South Africa where he played from 2004 to 2007 and was top scorer of the year months after he had left the Premier Soccer League side.
His first stop in Europe was at Brondby in Denmark in 2007 and later transferred to German side Arminia Bielefeld in 2008.
In 2010, Katongo left Germany for Greece where he spent a year at Skoda Xanthi and later moved to China in 2011 to sign with current club Henan Construction.