Former Africa player of the year Victor Ikpeba to grace Soya Awards

Monday, January 20th, 2020 00:00 |
Nigeria football legend Victor Ikpeba who is set to grace Friday’s Soya Awards. Photo/PD/FILE

Former Africa player of the year Victor Ikpeba will grace this year’s Safaricom Sports Personality of the Year (SOYA) Gala set for Mombasa Sports Club on Friday, January 24 as the chief guest.

The former Nigeria Super Eagles star who was crowned Africa’s finest in 1997, is expected in the country on Tuesday, then he will travel to Mombasa to hold a series of clinics with local football sides before attending the gala on Friday.

“I am so excited to be returning to Kenya after many years and it’s a great honour to be invited as the chief guest of a sports awards gala in a county that has rich sporting talent like Kenya,” Ikpeba said in a stement released by Soya committee.

He added: “I have just been in Kenya twice, first when we played Harambee Stars in a World Cup qualifier immediately after we won the 1996 Olympics gold medal in Atlanta Georgia and they frustrated us, holding us to a 1-1 draw.

The second time I came in quietly for an Olympic promo in 2012. This time I will have more time to see the beauty of the country and mingle with some of the world beaters.”

Ikpeba who featured at the 1994 and 1998 FIFA World Cup tournaments with Nigeria has had stints with French Ligue 1 side AS Monaco, Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund and Spanish La Liga side Real Betis. He also had stints with teams in the Middle East before he hanged his boots.

This year’s edition of SOYA will be staged at historical site Fort Jesus for the second time in a row after a hugely successful debut in 2019.

Trailblazing marathon runner Eliud Kipchoge headlines stardust names nominated for the glitzy annual sports gala.

Men’s top gong

Kipchoge is involved in a five pronged challenge for the men’s top gong alongside Japan based Harambee Stars striker Michael Olunga, 1500m world champion Timothy Cheruiyot, the man for all surfaces Geoffrey Kamworor and steeplechase king Conseslus Kipruto.

Olunga is the only nominee outside the athletics fraternity to be thought of as 2019 SOYA male athlete of the year.

The lanky striker was sizzling hot in the build-up and during the Africa Cup of Nations in which Kenya did not fair particularly well.

The rest of nominees are individually responsible for great feats on the track, grass and road.

In the women’s top gong, body builder Evelyn Akinyi Owala will be flexing against four other contestants.

Akinyi inked her name in sporting annals after emerging African champion in the wellness division as well as Arnold Classic, winning both titles at the International Federation of Body Building and Fitness Championships in Angola and South Africa.

 She also finished third in the 2019 IFBB World Cup Amateur and qualified for the elite pro league where she will compete this year as the first Kenyan female to ever grace the event and only third African female.

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