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Africa’s biggest football stars have begun trouping into Ghana for this year’s Confederations of African Football (CAF’s) player of the year awards night on Thursday January 4th, 2018.

The event will see deserving personalities, teams and countries honoured for their contribution to the game and exploits over the last 12 months.

At a news conference on arrival on Wednesday, Confederation of African Football (Caf) president Ahmad has strongly defended the body’s decision to remove the Africa-based Player of the Year and referee categories from its 2017 awards.

Caf removed both accolades last month after 10 footballers and six referees had originally been shortlisted for the awards.

On the eve of the ceremony in Accra, Ahmad insisted both categories were dropped to promote strong competition and avoid corruption.

“It’s very simple, we want to promote African football,” Ahmad said about the Africa-based player of the year category.

“There’s no two levels of football in Africa. Best is best, not best for the bad or best for the best. That’s the reason.

“The Best player in Africa is the young player. If you want to go up, don’t stay down. Don’t sit down,” said Ahmad.

On the referee’s award, Ahmed explained to reporters why that prize has also been scrapped.

“The referees already have their own awards by being recognised for high profile games.

“Based on the locations of the referee, they’re rewarded with – say for example – the champions league quarterfinals and subsequent games.

“Another argument is that it is unethical. The committee believes that by giving referees awards, it may lead to some corruption at a latter stage.”

Interestingly, the top three nominees are being put to a public vote to decide the winner of this year’s African Footballer of the year 2017.

Liverpool duo of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane are joined by Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the three-man list.

Egypt’s Salah has already won the 2017 BBC African Footballer of the Yearaward, while Gabon’s Aubameyang won the Caf award in 2015.

Senegal’s Mane has been included in the Caf Team of the Year for 2015 and 2016.

The winners of the awards will be announced on Thursday 4 January in Accra.

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