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Martins in final for African award

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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Inter Milan teenager Obafemi Martins has been named as one of five finalists for the 2003 African Footballer of the Year award.

Nigerian Martins, who has yet to play a full international for his country, featured for Inter in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals last year.

Compatriot JJ Okocha, Samuel Eto'o of Cameroon, Didier Drogba of the Ivory Coast and Tunisian Hatem Trabelsi are the other finalists.

Eto'o is among the finalists for the third successive year and is the favourite for the award after helping Cameroon to the final of the Confederations Cup in France. He also scored two goals in the Spanish Cup final for Real Mallorca in June.

Eto'o and the Ajax defender Trabelsi were the only two Africans named among the 50 candidates for the 2003 European Footballer of the Year award.

None of the five 2003 candidates has previously won the award. In 2001 and 2002, the accolade was won by Senegalese striker El Hadji Diouf.

A surprise omission this year is that of Shabani Nonda of the Democratic Republic of Congo, who helped Monaco to the French title last season.

The winner will be named in Tunis on January 23 and will be handed the trophy at the annual African football awards gala in Yaounde, Cameroon, on April 30.

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