|Inter forward Samuel Eto'o is favourite ahead of Drogba and Essien for the title [AFP]
Didier Drogba, Samuel Eto'o and Michael Essien have all been nominated for the 2009 African Footballer of the Year award in the Confederation of African Football's annual awards.
Algeria, Ivory Coast and Ghana were announced as nominees for the African National Team of the Year.
Inter Milan striker Eto'o, winner of the award in 2003, 2004 and 2005 is the favourite for the award, ahead of Drogba and Essien.
Eto'o netted eight goals in the World Cup qualifiers for Cameroon and the forward is the leading scorer in African Cup history
Didier Drogba, 2006 winner, is Cote d'Ivoire's all-time leading scorer with 43 goals in 65 games.
The 31-year-old Chelsea striker was instrumental in his country's successful run to the World Cup, scoring six goals in five games as Cote d'Ivoire topped their group and sealed a spot in South Africa in June.
Drogba was also expected to win in 2007 but refused to attend the award ceremony, held in the middle of the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Ghana, and it was given to Frederic Kanoute of Mali.
Drogba subsequently said he no longer wished to be considered for the award. The 2008 award was won by Emmanuel Adebayor of Togo.
Chelsea teammate Essien has finished in the top three for the last four years but has never won the award, which is decided by a poll of African national team coaches.
The 27-year-old midfielder also helped his country finish top of their group in qualifying for the west African country to reach just their second World Cup.
In the absence of the injured Essien, Ghana reached the final of the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations last month, losing to Egypt.
|Algeria qualified for the World Cup ahead of Egypt in a hotly contested playoff [AFP]
High-achieving Algeria reached their first World Cup since 1986 after overcoming north African rivals Egypt in a heated playoff in Sudan last November.
As a result Algeria climbed to their highest ever Fifa ranking of 26th in the world in December 2009.
TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the 2009 African Champions League winner, have been nominated as African Club of the Year alongside Heartland FC of Nigeria and Mali's CAF Confederation Cup winner, Stade Malien.
AC Milan player Dominic Adiyiah picked up a nomination for Young Player of the Year award after he secured MVP at the 2009 Fifa Under-20 World Cup in Egypt where Ghana were crowned the first African winners of the tournament.
The 2009 winner will be named on March 11 in Accra, Ghana.
African Footballer of the Year: Didier Drogba (Chelsea, Ivory Coast), Michael Essien (Chelsea, Ghana), Samuel Eto'o (Inter Milan, Cameroon).
National Team of the Year: Algeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana.
Club of the Year: Heartland FC (Nigeria), Stade Malien (Mali), T.P. Mazembe (DR Congo).
Young Player of the Year: Dominic Adiyiah (AC Milan, Ghana U-20), Kermit Erasmus (Feyenoord, South Africa U-20), Sani Emmanuel (Bodens BK, Nigeria U-17).
Coach of the Year: Diego Garzitto (T.P. Mazembe), John Obuh (Nigeria U-17), Sellas Tetteh (Ghana U-20).
Best African player on the continent: Uche Agba (Heartland FC, Nigeria), Mputu Mabi (T.P. Mazembe, DR Congo), Abdelmalek Ziaya (Entente Setif, Algeria)