It’s been 20 years since a Nigerian player won the CAF Player Of The Year Award and the wait will continue when the 2019 CAF Awards ceremony holds at the Albatros Citadel Sahl Hasheesh, Hurghada, Egypt on Tuesday (tonight).
Nwankwo Kanu was the last recipient of the award in 1999, beating Ghanaian defender Samuel Kuffour and Ivorian striker Ibrahima Bakayoko to win the award.
Ever since, only two Super Eagles players Austin Okocha and Mikel Obi have made the final shortlist in over two decades.
Okocha finished runners-up in 1998 behind Morocco’s Mustapha Hadji. He also placed third in 2003 and 2004 behind Samuel Eto’o of Cameroon and Ivory Coast’s Didier Drogba.
Mikel on his part was runners-up when Ivory Coast’s Yaya Toure won the award in 2003.
Only four Nigeria players have won the CAF African Player of the Year award. Rashidi Yekini in 1993, Emmanuel Amuneke in 1994, Kanu in 1996, 1999 and Victor Ikpeba in 1997.
Tuesday’s awards will not be about Nigeria’s men’s players absence from the final three of the CAF Player of the Year award but Asisat Oshoala’s quest to equal her mentor and compatriot, Perpetua Nkwocha, who won the award a record four times – 2004, 2005, 2010, 2011.
The 25-year-old has been crowned winner in 2014, 2016 and 2017.
South African Thembi Kgatlana and Cameroon’s Ajara Njoya stand in the way of Oshoala’s race to clinch a fourth African Women’s Player of the Year crown in Hurghada.
Oshoala has scored 10 goals in 13 league appearances for Barcelona Ladies this season.
For the Young Player of the Year award, it will be a straight fight between Victor Osimhen and Samuel Chukwueze for the gong. The duo are up against Morocco’s Achraf Hakimi.
They are gunning for the prestigious CAF prize that had previously been scooped by the likes of Obafemi Martins, Mikel Obi, Taye Taiwo, Etebo Oghenekaro, Kelechi Iheanacho, and Wilfred Ndidi.
Osimhen on his part will hope to win it for a second time just as Obafemi Martins and Kelechi Iheanacho did in the past, while Chukwueze who caught the eye for La Liga outfit Villarreal with his exciting runs and tricky from the right-side of attack will be aiming to win the award for the first time.
The pair were members of the U-17 World Cup-winning team of 2015 with Osimhen winning the golden boot award with 10 goals, while Chukwueze won the bronze boot.
The Super Falcons are primed for the award of the Women’s National Team of the Year, having successfully retained their continental crown in Ghana in December 2018 and reached the knockout stage of the Women’s World Cup in France last year. Cameroon’s Indomitable Lionesses and Banyana Banyana of South Africa are contending against the nine-time African champions.
* Courtesy: The Punch