|Kaka: A believer and predicted to be a winner
Brazil and AC Milan midfielder Kaka is expected to complete a sweep of annual awards by winning FIFA’s World Player of the Year prize.
Argentina forward Lionel Messi and Portugal winger Cristiano Ronaldo areexpected to provide the toughest opposition for the highest individual prize.
The 25-year-old Kaka has already won European football’s Golden Ball and World Soccer magazine’s player of the year award.
Kaka, Messi and Ronaldo were picked as finalists from a list of 30 candidates in a poll of national team coaches and captains.
Kaka led Milan to a 2-1 victory over Liverpool in the Champions League final last season.
On Sunday, he scored one goal and set up two for Filippo Inzaghi as Milan won its record fourth world club title by beating Argentina’s Boca Juniors 4-2.
Messi, who tore a thigh muscle over the weekend when Barcelona beat Valencia 3-0, joined the Catalan club in 2000.
The 20-year-old Argentine scored a spectacular goal against Getafe in April after picking up the ball in his own half.
Messi went past four opposition players before sliding the ball by the goalkeeper to draw comparisons with Diego Maradona’s second goal in the 1986 World Cup quarterfinal match against England.
In 2002, Maradona’s effort was voted the greatest goal in FIFA World Cup
Cristiano Ronaldo would be the first winner from an English club.
The Manchester United player is currently tied at the top of the Premier League’s scoring list (9 goals) with Arsenal’s Emmanuel Adebayor and Everton’s Ayegbeni Yakubu.
The 22-year-old Portuguese was Manchester United’s top scorer last season, helping the club win its first Premier League title in four years.
In the women’s competition, Birgit Prinz of Germany faces competition from Cristiane and Marta; both of Brazil.
Prinz won the World Cup this year when Germany beat Brazil 2-0 in the final, with Prinz scoring one of the goals.
The 30-year-old German has already won the award three times Marta was the top scorer of the tournament, with seven goals.
The 21-year-old Brazilian won the award last year.
Cristiane, 22, tied Prinz with five goals at the World Cup.