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Morocco international and Montpellier midfielder Younes Belhanda on Thursday clinched the 2012 Marc-Vivien Foe Prize as African best player of the French Ligue 1.
The 22-year-old scored 187 points to best Cameroon international defender of Marseille Nicolas Nkoulou and Gabon’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Saint Etienne. Thus, Belhanda succeeds Arsenal’s Ivorian-born Gervinho, who won the prize last year.
Born in Avignon, France, Belhanda represented the France U20 team in 2010 but chose to play his senior international career with Morocco. He was a member of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) team that was unable to advance to the knockout rounds.
He has scored 12 goals this season to help the La Paillade keep a stranglehold on the Ligue 1.
The Marc-Vivien Foe Prize was initiated in 2009 to pay homage to the Cameroonian midfielder who collapsed and died in June 2003 during a Fifa Confederation Cup match in France. It is awarded only to African professionals playing in France. Some 35 football journalists made up the jury that selected the players.
1st: Younes Belhanda (Montpellier - Morocco): 147 pts
2nd: Nicolas NKoulou (Marseille - Cameroon): 84 pts
3rd: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Saint-Etienne - Gabon): 33 pts
4th: Henri Bedimo (Montpellier - Cameroon): 23 pts
5th: Aymen Abdennour (Toulouse - Tunisia): 11 pts
2009: Marouane Chamakh (Morocco)
2010: Gervinho (Côte d’Ivoire)
2011: Gervinho (Côte d’Ivoire)