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Aubameyang gets presidential reception as Yaya, Ayew cry foul

By DAVID KWALIMWA and AGENCIES

Gabon President Ali Omar Bongo offered his Presidential jet to ferry newly crowned African Footballer of the Year, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang back home following the historic achievement on Thursday night.

The speedy forward, 26, beat Ivorian Yaya Toure and Ghana’s Andre Ayew to the 2015 honours for the continent’s best player at a ceremony held in Abuja, Nigeria. Aubameyang becomes the first Gabonese player to win the award.

Aubameyang, who plays for Bundesliga side Borrussia Dortmund, was welcomed in Libreville by political leaders and scores of his fans who lined up the streets of the country’s capital city.

Newly crowned African Footballer of the Year, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang displays his trophy on arrival in Libreville, Gabon abroad the Presidential jet.
Newly crowned African Footballer of the Year, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang displays his trophy on arrival in Libreville, Gabon abroad the Presidential jet.

He was later hosted at the Presidential villa by the country’s long-serving leader who is known for his love for sports, especially football.

President Bongo has in the past facilitated the visit of both the Spain national football team plus star footballer Leo Messi to the country. Gabon has also been awarded the hosting rights for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.

CAF CRITICIZED

Meanwhile, Yaya Toure and Andre Ayew have both criticized Caf’s decision to award the title to Aubameyang.

Toure described the decision as “shameful” and “pathetic” while Ayew also seemed unhappy about finishing behind Aubameyang..

“I’m very, very disappointed. It’s sad to see Africa react this way, that they (Caf) don’t think Africa’s achievements are important,” the Manchester City player told French radio RFI.

Newly crowned African Footballer of the Year, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang takes a selfie with scores of his fans in the background on arrival in Libreville, Gabon.
Newly crowned African Footballer of the Year, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang takes a selfie with scores of his fans in the background on arrival in Libreville, Gabon.

Touré, who won the award in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, then added: “I think this is what brings shame to Africa, because to act in that way is indecent. But what can we do about it? Us Africans, we don’t show that Africa is important in our eyes. We favour more what’s abroad than our own continent. That is pathetic.”

Ayew, who joined Swansea in the summer from Marseille, also seemed unhappy about finishing behind Aubameyang. In an interview with the French newspaper L’Equipe with the headline “Je m’interroge” (I’m wondering), the Ghana forward also openly questioned the decision.

He said: “I wonder can someone explain what is the criteria in a Cup of Nations year. It seems logical to me that the major competition of the continent is considered in the verdict. The Euro would count for Europeans but the Cup of Nations would not count for Africans?”