NIGERIAN Jay Jay Okocha is the favourite to emerge African Footballer of the year when the 2003 MTN CAF Awards take place late next month.
Liverpoolâ€™s Senegal forward El Hadji Diouf won the prestigious honour in 2001 and 2002.
Okocha, a midfield maestro with Premiership club, Bolton Wanderers, is contesting African soccerâ€™s ultimate prize with Cameroonian international, Samuel Etoâ€™o and Ivorian, Didier Drogba.
Okocha was instrumental in Boltonâ€™s relegation battle last season while striker Etoâ€™o was the architect of Cameroonâ€™s run to the Confederations Cup final in France.
Drogba, on the other hand, has been the revelation of the season for French club, Olympic Marseille with five goals in the UEFA Champions League and 15 in Ligue 1
The third edition of the awards will this time be held in the Cameroonian city of Yaounde.
It will be the first time since 2001 that the gala takes place away from Johannesburg, South Africa.
â€œEver since we have been involved with CAF in the awards, weâ€™ve always wanted to have different countries hosting the show. That was the vision of CAF boss, Issa Hayatou,â€ said MTN marketing manager Freddie Mokoena in a release.
Arsenal defender, Kolo Toure of Ivory Coast and Inter Milanâ€™s Nigerian Obafemi Martins will tussle it out for the Young Player of the Year tribute.
The awards will also recognise three African legends in Malian Salif Keita, Zambiaâ€™s Kalusha Bwalya and Roger Milla.
Okocha Favourite For African Award