ZAMBIA'S exciting duo of Stoppila Sunzu and Rainford Kalaba has made the final three for the 2012 Confederation of African Football (CAF) Player of the Year-based in Africa award as Chipolopolo skipper, Christopher Katongo dropped out of the race for the prestigious African Player of the Year.
And the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) has challenged Zambians living in the diaspora to vote for Katongo in the race for the 2012 British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) African Footballer of the Year award as it is their patriotic duty.
CAF announced yesterday that Sunzu and Kalaba, who played crucial roles in helping Zambia claim the historic 2012 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) championship, will battle with Egyptian, Mohamed Aboutreika for the top accolade.
National coaches and technical directors from CAF affiliate members voted for the final shortslists for both awards.
Katongo, who was in the initial 34 alongside Sunzu and Kalaba before making the final 10 for the continent's most coveted individual accolade, failed to make the top five yesterday.
Last year's winner, Yaya Toure and his Ivorian compatriot, Didier Drogba are still in the race alongside, Andre Ayew of Ghana, Senegal's Demba Ba and Alexander Song of Cameroon.
The winners will be announced during the CAF Awards Gala night on December 20 at the Banquet Hall at State House in Accra, Ghana.
And FAZ vice-president, Boniface Mwamelo asked all Zambians both abroad and home to support Katongo and consider it their patriotic duty to vote for him, saying he was worthy the top slot in Africa.
Katongo was on Thursday shortlisted among the top five contenders for the BBC African Footballer of the Year and FAZ feels all Zambians now needed to participate to ensure the 30-year-old forward scoops the accolade next month.
Mwamelo said in an interview in Lusaka yesterday that voting was the least Zambians could do to acknowledge the great works of Katongo, who guided the Chipolopolo to the historic 2012 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) triumph.
He said it was a rare occasion that a Zambian gets nominated for such high accolades and that it was therefore paramount to all Chipolopolo lovers to support the China-based striker in the quest for Africa's top award.
"Zambians should consider it as their patriotic duty to vote for Chris because he is worthy the top slot. That's the least we can do (voting) to acknowledge his exploits," he said.
Katongo was nominated for the BBC award alongside, 2009 winner, Drogba and his Ivorian teammate, Toure, Senegal's Ba and Belhanda of Morocco.
The BBC African Footballer of the Year winner is decided by fans across the continent.
African football fans have until 18:30 GMT (20:30 hours Zambian time) on Thursday, December 13 to vote for their choice.
The votes can be cast either via the BBC African football page or by sending an SMS from a mobile phone to +44 7786 20 50 75.
Those voting for Katongo needed to text 4 and the texts are limited to one per mobile phone.
The 2012 BBC African Footballer of the Year winner will be announced on Monday, December 17.
Ghanaian Ayew won the BBC African Footballer of the Year last year after beating Toure with his compatriot, Gervais Lombe Yao Kouassi 'Gervinho', Cameroon's Samuel Eto'o and Seydou Keita of Mali.