Tuesday, 12 December 2023 04:35

Osimhen, Oshoala, Nnadozie shine as Nigeria sweeps CAF awards

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Twenty-Four years after Nwankwo Kanu’s triumph as the continent’s best soccer star, Victor Osimhen, was, yesterday, in Marrakech, Morocco, named African Footballer of the Year for his exploits for his club, Napoli and country, Nigeria, in the 2022/23 season.

Osimhen, who led Napoli to their first Italian title 33 years after the great Diego Amando Maradona achieved that feat for the Italian side, beat Morocco’s Achraf Hakim and Egypt’s Mohammed Salah to take the crown.

To make it a double sweep for Nigeria, Super Falcons’ Asisat Oshoala, a serial winner of the award, was once again declared the African Women’s Footballer of the Year.

Nigeria’s night of glory started with the Super Falcons, who defeated Morocco and South Africa to win the Women’s National Team of the Year. The team’s goalkeeper, Chiamaka Nnadozie, soon followed with the Women’s Goalkeeper of the Year diadem, with the Women’s Club of the Year Award going to Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa. The men’s category went to Al Ahli of Egypt.

Fittingly, Nnadozie’s award was announced by former Super Falcons’ goalkeeper, Precious Dede. But it was not so sweet for Super Falcons star, Deborah Abiodun, who had a sterling performance at the 2023 Women’s World Cup, as she was beaten to the Young Player of the Year Award (women) by Morocco’s Nesryne El Chad, while Senegal’s Lamine Camara won the men’s category.

The Goal of the Year award went to Mahmoud Kahraba of Al Ahli, Egypt, As expected, Morocco, who went all the way to the Qatar 2022 World Cup semifinal, won the Men’s National Team of the Year Award. They defeated Senegal and The Gambia to the crown.

Their goalkeeper, Yassin Bounou, capped Morocco’s joy with the Goalkeeper of the Year crown, just at the Atlas Lions’ coach, Walid Regragui, won the Coach of the Year Award. The women’s Coach of the Year crown went to South Africa’s Desiree Ellis.

Earlier, guests at the award gala were jolted by the news that Algeria would not be part of the event because they were protesting the exclusion of their star player, Riyad Mahrez, from the final list of nominees for the men’s Footballer of the Year Award.

According to the Algerian argument, Mahrez, who won the UEFA Champions League and the Premiership during the period under review, did more than Mohammed Salah, whose club, Liverpool, could not finish among the top four sides in the English Premier League.

President of Algerian Football Federation (FAF), Walid Sadi, had on Sunday revealed that he would boycott the ceremony in solidarity with Riyad Mahrez.
Algerian coach Abdelhak Benchikha wason the list of finalists for the best African coach award, alongside Moroccan coach, Walid Regragui, and his Senegalese counterpart, Aliou Cissé.

The Algerian decision to boycott the CAF Awards did not come as a surprise to many, though, as Rabah Madjer and Lakhdar Belloumi, two former Algerian football stars, had declined CAF’s invitation to attend the previous ceremony in Rabat on the sidelines of the women’s CAN.

Some Algerian media outlets accuse president of the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF), Fouzi Lekjaa, of having orchestrated the exclusion of Mahrez from the list of the three nominees for the title of best African footballer 2022-2023.

 

The Guardian

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