CAIRO: In what will likely soften the blow that football hero Mohamed Aboutrika was not chosen as the African Footballer of the year, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has nominated Egypt and the Al-Ahly club for two prestigious awards.
The Egyptian national team, which won the African Cup of Nations last year leads Ghana and Ivory Coast for African team of the year.
Al Ahly, which won the African Champions League in November, tops the list of African Club of the year, while Manuel Jose, the Reds manager, leads the list for African Coach of the Year.
Jose has maintained a roller-coaster relationship with the local press, his alleged arrogance and showmanship riling many sports columnists.
Recently, Egyptian critics continued to lash out at Jose following his side s 3-0 defeat against Ismaili last week.
The boisterous criticism comes despite the recent honeymoon between the Portuguese manager and the press who had showered him with praise recently after his African and international accomplishments.
Hassan Shehata, national team manager, is also in the running for the African Coach of the Year award.
Aboutrika, however, remains the focus of much of the media’s fascination.
His spectacular performances in Tunisia and Japan helped Ahly win the League championship and earn a third place slot for best club in the world.
Samuel Eto o was named among the three candidates for the 2006 African Player of the Year Award, putting him in contention to win the title for a record fourth straight year.
Aboutrika, who scored repeatedly in both the African Champions League for team Al Ahly and the African Cup of Nations this year, was completely shut out from the final three.
He had been included among the initial five short listed but was ruled out, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) said late last year.
The CAF instead opted to nominate the same players as last year: Cameroon striker Eto o, who is currently injured and out of action with FC Barcelona, was named alongside Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba and Ghana midfielder Michael Essien, both of whom play for English champion Chelsea.
The trio was nominated in a vote by African national team coaches and the winner will be announced March 1 in Accra, Ghana.
But Aboutrika loyalists may be happy to learn that the tall, soft-spoken Egyptian champion is the lead in nominations for African Club Footballer of the year.
All in all, it is likely the Egyptians will bring home several awards in March.