By NDINAWE SIMPELWE –
FORMER Chipolopolo trainer Hervé Renard has tipped TP Mazembe midfielder Rainford Kalaba to win this year’s Africa based African Footballer-of-the-year award.
Kalaba has made the top three for the second time in his career and will face competition from Mamelodi Sundowns’ duo of pint-size Khama Billiat and Dennis Onyango.
In an interview yesterday, Renard, who is now coaching Morocco, said while Zimbabwean Billiat and Onyango from Kenya were also good players, the Chipolopolo skipper deserved it more because of his consistency and leadership for both club and country.
Renard, who won the Africa Cup with Zambia and Ivory Coast, said even though the award was for the year 2016, Kalaba has been consistent for a number of years which makes him the major favorite ahead of his competitors.
“I have voted for him as a winner of the African based player. I think he deserved to win this trophy (this year). He has won the Afcon 2012, plus the Champions League in Africa and this year the CAF (Confederation) Cup with TP Mazembe.
“It’s now the time for him to receive this trophy. He is an amazing player,” Renard said.
The Chipolopolo skipper scored a brace in the final of the Confederation Cup to help his side TP Mazembe win the title.
Billiat and Onyango were also instrumental in guiding Sundowns to its maiden CAF Champions’ League title this year.
The three were picked by head coaches, technical directors of national associations affiliated to CAF, media committee, technical & football committee and a panel of media experts.
The awards are scheduled for January 5 in Abuja, Nigeria where CAF will also award the African Footballer-of-the-year based outside the continent.
This main award is been contested by Gabonese midfielder Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who plays Borrusia Dortmond in Germany, Algerian and Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez and Senegalese and Liverpool striker Sadio Mané.