No Nigerian has won the Best Africa Player award in 20 years, but the Lille star is confident that the long wait will soon come to an end.
Victor Osimhen has expressed his conviction that the Super Eagles boast enough talents to challenge for and win the prestigious African Footballer of the Year crown. The last Nigerian born star to claim the award was Nwankwo Kanu in 1999.
The trio of Austin Jay Jay Okocha, John Obi Mikel and Vincent Enyeama have since come closest to the honour for the three-time African champions. But the ex-PSG star finished in third place twice (2003, 2004) the same position as legendary goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama in 2014.
Former Chelsea midfield ace John Obi Mikel did a bit better to finish second behind Yaya Toure in 2013, but that has been the best finish for any of the country’s talents in two decades.
Former Nigeria international Odion Ighalo raised hopes yet again in 2019 after making the CAF top ten shortlist following his fine form at the African Cup of Nations tournament in Egypt. The former Watford striker netted five goals to help Gernot Rohr clinch a bronze medal.
But Ighalo was eventually edged out of the top three by the remarkable trio of Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez and Liverpool’s Sadio Mane and Mo Salah.
Osimhen, however, is bullish about Nigeria’s chances of having one of her stars win the coveted award. Blessed with the talents of Leicester City’s Wilfred Ndidi, Everton’s Alex Iwobi, Villarreal’s Samuel Chukwueze – not forgetting the Lille forward – Nigeria is closer to winning than ever before.
“I think we are really close to bringing the award back to Nigeria,” Victor Osimhen told the Sporting Sun.
“We have a group of players that can do that for us. We have the likes of Ndidi (Wilfried), Chukwueze (Samuel), myself, Iwobi (Alex) and the rest of the players.
“We are really working hard to get there and bring the award to Nigeria. It won’t be easy but with time, we would bring back the award.”
Osimhen has already started the race for the 2020 Africa’s Best Player on a good note, with the former Sporting Charleroi forward one of the continent’s finest export in the French Ligue 1.