Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi said on Monday that Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel deserved to be named Africa’s best player of 2013.
Mikel is in the running for the Confederation of African Football (CAF) award with Ivorian stars Yaya Toure, of Manchester City, and Galatasaray striker Didier Drogba.
The winner will be announced at a ceremony in Nigeria’s financial capital, Lagos, on Thursday.
“It (the CAF player of the year title) will boost the team and Mikel and all Nigerians because it has been a long time since we last won the award and I know we deserve to win this year,” said Keshi.
Midfielder Mikel played a big role in the tournament in South Africa in February and helped Chelsea win their first-ever Europa League trophy.
He was also outstanding at the FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil.
Keshi, who steered the Super Eagles to their third African Cup of Nations (CAN) title in 2013 and qualification for this year’s World Cup in Brazil, is also in the running for best coach.
He is up against his compatriot Manu Garba, who took the country’s under-17 side to World Cup glory, and Belgian coach Paul Put who guided Burkina Faso to the 2013 CAN final where they lost 1-0 against Keshi’s Nigeria in Johannesburg.
Nigerians Kadiri Ikhana and Okey Emordi have bagged the award previously after leading Enyimba to win the CAF Champions League in 2003 and 2004 respectively.