Sun, Feb 03, 2008 - Page 24 News List

Kanoute is Africa player of the year


Mali and Sevilla forward Frederic Kanoute was named Africa player of 2007 on Friday, beating Chelsea clubmates Michael Essien and Didier Drogba to become the first European-born player to earn the honor.

Nigeria's Cynthia Uwak was chosen as the best women's player ahead of South Africa's Modise Portia.

Kanoute was chosen after he helped Mali qualify for the African Cup of Nations, ongoing in Ghana. Mali have already been eliminated in group play.

The 30-year old Kanoute was born in France to Malian parents.

"I dedicate this to my family, who could not be here and to the people of Mali," Kanoute said. "I believe that sport can be used as a tool for development in Africa."

Kanoute is the first winner from Mali since Salif Keita received the inaugural award in 1970.

Ivory Coast captain Drogba was the 2006 recipient.

The timing of the awards has been heavily criticized because of the African championship. Ghana coach Claude LeRoy refused Essien permission to travel to Lome, which is a three-hour drive from the Ghanaian capital of Accra.

The player awards are run by the Confederation of African Football with voting conducted by national coaches from 53 nations.

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