The Napoli ace is the most valuable centre-forward on the continent, but he finds no place among Africa’s best 30
Former Super Eagles defender Ifeanyi Udeze has expressed his disgust at the Confederation of African Football, CAF, for excluding Victor Osimhen from the 30-man shortlist vying for the prestigious Player of the Year award.
Nantes winger Moses Simon is the only Nigerian included in the CAF shortlist following his exploits for club and country over the past few months.
The controversial CAF awards
CAF, the continent’s football governing body, on Thursday, June 30, released a list of 30 players drawn from 13 countries set to compete for the African Player of the Year award. The list has generated a bit of controversy.
Prominent on the list are previous winners Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, Bayern Munich’s Sadio Mane, and Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez.
Interestingly, Egypt’s Mohamed Elneny, Ivory Coast’s Sebastien Haller, and Morocco’s Yahya Jabrane also made the cut.
But there was no room for Nigeria’s Wilfred Ndidi, Samuel Chukwueze, and even more significantly, Osimhen.
Osimhen’s exploits during the period under review
Crucially, Osimhen missed the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon, where Simon’s brilliance powered the Super Eagles to the knockout round.
But despite the injury that made him miss the Afcon and threatened his season, the 23-year-old was almost unstoppable for Napoli in the Serie A and the Europa League.
The former Lille lad netted 14 league goals, added another four in the continental competition, and won six more penalties for Il Partenopei.
And Osimhen was deservedly handed the Serie A’s best young player award.
It, however, did little to convince CAF’s panelists that the Nigerian international merited a spot in the top 30.
What has been said
The snub, however, drew the ire of former West Bromwich Albion defender Ifeanyi Udeze.
In a chat with the Punch, Udeze expressed his surprise at Osimhen’s exclusion from a list displaying Africa’s finest footballers.
The ex-PAOK full-back opines Osimhen’s absence from AFCON 2021 may have been the main reason for the CAF snub.
“It was a surprise to me that Osimhen’s name was not on that list,” Udeze said.
“There was a 30-man shortlist and his name was not there; I was shocked. I don’t know the criteria they are using for the nominations.
“I feel Osimhen was not on that list because he did not go for the African Cup of Nations and this affected his judgement, Moses was on that list because he performed for Nigeria in the AFCON, and he also helped his club side to win a cup at least.
“I think Osimhen should just take that off his mind and work towards the new season and you never can tell; I’ll just wish him all the very best.”
The awards ceremony where the new Africa Player of the Year is expected to be announced will hold on July 21, 2022, in Morocco.