NAIROBI, Kenya, December 4- Former UEFA Champions League winner and Budesliga giants Bayern Munich stalwart defender Samuel Osei Kuffour will be the invited international star guest at Thursday’s Safaricom Sports Personality of the Year Awards (Soyas).
Organisers disclosed on Tuesday that the former Ghana Black Stars skipper is expected in the country in the early hours of Thursday ahead of the ninth edition of the awards set for Nairobi’s Carnivore Restaurant later in the day.
Kuffour won his first cap as a 17-year old, when Ghana played Sierra Leone in 1993 and went on to play for his national side for 13 years.
During the gala, the Overall Sports Personality of the Year will be the biggest prize on offer with seven nominees including last year’s winner, double world champion, Vivian Cheruiyot in the race for the accolade.
Other notable decorations include the Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year, Coach of the Year, Federation of the Year, the newly introduced Comeback of the Year as well as the Most Promising Male and Female awards among the 16 categories up for grabs.
Despite overwhelming response in favour from the public voting that drew to a close at the end of November, organisers declined to include Croat Zradvko Logarusic in the list of Coach of the Year.
Logarusic led domestic club Gor Mahia to two trophies and they narrowly lost the league title on the last day to champions Tusker FC.
“Soya panellists recognised his ability to turn around the club, who also won the Top Eight trophy and President’s Cup.
“He was also nominated by an overwhelming number of the public but unfortunately, will not be in contention as he has been technically locked out by the award’s criteria of citizenship of Kenya,” organisers stated.
World record holder, David Rudisha, Olympics champion, Ezekiel Kemboi, double world titleholder, Vivian Cheruiyot and Celtic FC footballer, Victor Wanyama are the frontrunners for the Overall award.
Swimmer Jason Dunford, Olympics marathon silver medallist, Abel Kirui and World Marathon Majors women’s winner, Mary Keitany are in also in the running for the top decoration.
Kuffor first gained prominence as a 13 year old and was part of the team that won the 1991 Fifa under 17 World Cup in Italy.
The former Ghanaian captain is also the youngest Olympic Football Champion of all-time, getting bronze at the 1992 Olympics with Ghana just before his 16th birthday.
Kuffour then moved on to Bayern Munich where he enjoyed great success including winning the 2001 Uefa Champions League with the Bavarian club.
That win was the climax of trophy laden years at Bayern where he won 17 major titles, made almost 250 appearances during his 12 year stay.
Kuffour also made one appearance for his country at the 2006 World Cup finals, against Italy.
On 12 January 2007, the Confederation of African Football voted Kuffour as a member of the Top 30 African Players of All-Time.
In addition to Bayern, he also played for Torino, Roma, Nuremberg, Livorno and Ajax.
Currently he does analysis on African football and Champions League matches on SuperSport.