This day in history: Eto’o under the bright lights

December 20, 2019
On this day, 20 December 2010 (Exactly 9 years ago today), Samuel Eto’o was named as African player of the year for a record fourth time.
The forward for Inter Milan and Cameroon finished ahead of Ghana forward Asamoah Gyan and Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba in votes cast by the coaches of African’s 53 national teams
Eto’o, who also won the award in 2003, 2004 and 2005, helped Inter Milan win an unprecedented treble of Serie A, Italian Cup and Champions League titles the previous season. He also won the FIFA Club World Cup with the Italian club.
“I would like to seek your support to help Africa win the World Cup,” Eto’o said to Issa Hayatou,the president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) while receiving the award.
The Inter Milan striker said the African continent has quality players, coaches and managers to be able to attain that objective.
He also heaped praise on TP Mazembe of the Congo Democratic Republic for flying Africa’s flag at the just ended FIFA World Club Cup.
TP Mazembe became the first African team to reach the final of that tournament but were beaten 3-0 by Europe’s  Inter Milan, with Eto’o scoring and providing an assist for the Italians.
The runner-up, Ghana’s Gyan who was named BBC African Footballer of the Year the previous Friday, said he was young and had many years ahead of him to win the award.
“It’s a surprise to see me standing here before all these big men of Africa,” he said in reference to his youth and the achievements he had already made.
Gyan was the lead scorer for the  Black Stars of Ghana who reached the final of the Africa Cup of Nations in Angola and the quarter-finals of the World Cup in South Africa.
He missed a last minute penalty that would have taken Ghana to the semi-finals of the competition but showed great courage as he took and scored a penalty kick during the shoot-out at the end of the match.
Gyan, Eto’o, and Drogba feature in CAF’s African Eleven of the year which also includes Egypt’s national team captain Ahmed Hassan who won the award for the Best African Footballer based in the African continent.
Ghana won the team of the year award and Serbian Milovan Rajevac, who quit as Ghana coach’s in September, was voted coach of the year.
Ahmed Hassan won the African-based player of the year award after leading Egypt to the African Cup of Nations title
On this day 20 December 1994 (Exactly 25 years ago today)  FC Barcelona’s Bulgarian forward Hristo Stoichkov won the Ballon d’Or Award for Europe’s best football player ahead of Juventus striker Roberto Baggio and Milan defender Paolo Maldini.
Stoichkov was the first Bulgarian national to win the award. He was the third Barcelona player to win the trophy after Luis Suárez (1960), and Johan Cruyff (1973, 1974).
On this day 20 December 2014 (Exactly 5 years ago today) Real Madrid won the FIFA Club World Cup Morocco 2014 after defeating San Lorenzo 2-0 in the final in Marrakech.
The UEFA Champions League winners scored on either side of the half thanks to goals from defender Sergio Ramos and winger Gareth Bale.
Real Madrid head coach Ancelotti made one change from the side that defeated Cruz Azul 4-0 in the semi-final with 2014 FIFA World Cup tournament star James Rodriguez replacing Asier Illarramendi in midfield.
The European champions nearly scored in the first minute when Toni Kroos won the ball in midfield before setting up Cristiano Ronaldo on the left wing. Ronaldo then crossed towards the onrushing Karim Benzema, who was unable to reach the cross.
In the fifth minute, a free-kick from Ronaldo deflected off the wall, bouncing straight into the arms of San Lorenzo goalkeeper Sebastian Torrico. Benzema tested Terrico later when his right-footed shot from 20 metres was saved in the 28th minute.
Eight minutes later, Madrid went on a counter-attack with Benzema finding an onrushing Bale whose shot was saved by Torrico for a corner kick. The breakthrough came when Kroos’s corner kick found the head of Sergio Ramos who leapt over Mario Yepes to create familiar scenes from the semi-final.
Real then took the momentum from Ramos’s goal to distance themselves from the Copa Libertadores holders. A clever pass from Isco found Bale inside the box, and the Welshman’s left-footed shot slipped beneath Torrico and into the net.
San Lorenzo threatened Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas a couple of times with Enzo Kalinski providing the most dangerous chances, however, Casillas was able to deal effectively with San Lorenzo’s efforts to assure the Spanish giants the title in Marrakech.
On this day 20 December 2015 (Exactly 4 years ago today) A brace from Luis Suarez and a Lionel Messi strike saw Barcelona claim their third FIFA Club World Cup crown with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over River Plate in Yokohama.
There was no doubt that the champions of Europe deserved to win the match and consequently the tournament with an immaculate all-round display. And while the forward line of MSN, Messi, Suarez and Neymar, will rightfully get the plaudits, Claudio Bravo and Gerard Pique, in particular, did their jobs well to keep the clean sheet.
Alarm bells began to ring for River as early as the 12th minute. Andres Iniesta played a great ball to Messi inside the box. He produced a great shot on the turn which forced an equally good stop from Marcelo Barovero who saved low to his left. The keeper was called into action midway through the half when he claimed Dani Alves’ shot comfortably.
The longer the half remained goalless, the more River’s confidence grew and half chances came. Rodrigo Mora fired a shot from 30 yards which was straight at Claudio Bravo and then Lucas Alario’s shot from the edge of the ‘D’ saw the Barça stopper claim it easily to his right.
Missing from the semi-final with abdominal pain, Messi began to have more of an impact on the game.
His well-struck free-kick from 35 yards, was expertly turned away for a corner. However, Barovero was powerless to stop the opening goal nine minutes before half-time.
Dani Alves swung in a cross from the right which Neymar headed into the path of Messi. He turned Jonatan Maidana the wrong way before poking the ball home.
However, the goal did not silence the River Plate fans who gave tremendous backing to their team throughout the match.
Suarez almost made it 2-0 on the stroke of half-time after Messi played a perfect pass through to the Uruguayan.
He ran on to it well to split the defence, but when faced with the onrushing Barovero, he fired wide.
However, the forward made amends four minutes after the break when this time he made no mistake after being presented with a one-on-one opportunity.
Great credit must go to Sergio Busquets who won possession before playing a perfect ball for the former Liverpool man.
After the goal, Barcelona threatened to run riot. Neymar teed up Messi on two separate occasions. Both should have yielded goals.
The first chance saw Messi fire tamely at Barovero and the second saw him fire wide when he could have easily squared to Suarez.
Another lovely move from Barça made it three. A fantastic ball from Neymar found Suarez in the box and he headed home for his fifth goal in the tournament in just two games.
River Plate had their first chance of the half when Bravo tipped the ball acrobatically over from Lucas Alario’s header.
The Chilean had to be at his best in the closing stages to tip a powerful drive from Osvaldo Martinez on to the post. The team and their fans did not show wanting, but they fell short on this occasion.
STORIES: GEORGE MAHAMAH

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