It’s been over two decades since a Nigerian won the CAF African Footballer of the Year award. Still, Shehu Abdullahi is expecting a quartet of the present generation of Super Eagles stars to bring back the individual honour.
Bursaspor defender, Abdullahi is convinced that anyone of Samuel Chukwueze, Victor Osimhen, Alex Iwobi, or Joe Aribo would soon rise to become the best player on the continent.
Nigeria legend Nwankwo Kanu was the last Super Eagles star to be recognised by CAF as Africa’s best in 1999.
In fact, only Austin Jay Jay Okocha, John Mikel Obi and Vincent Enyeama have finished inside the top three since Kanu won it in 1999.
This year, on-loan Man United forward Odion Ighalo was the man widely tipped to break the jinx for Nigeria following an excellent AFCON tournament where he emerged top scorer with five goals.
But he didn’t even make the final three shortlist as CAF crowned Liverpool’s Sadio Mane as Africa’s best.
Nigeria’s disappointment continued in the junior category where Morocco’s Achraf Hakimi edged the duo of Chukwueze and Osimhen to the Young Player of the Year award.
But Super Eagles right full-back Abdullahi believes the time is near for one of Nigeria’s clutch of talented attackers to climb to the peak of African football.
“The likes of Chukwueze (Samuel), Osimhen (Victor), Aribo (Joe), Iwobi (Alex), and a host of them are very young,” the 2016 Olympics Games bronze medalist told The Sun News.
“They have got the potentials, and they have started playing for the big teams and also in the big leagues in Europe. Unfortunately, we have not won (the CAF Best Player Award) for a while, but I believe it will come soon.”