A night to remember for all Nigerians saw Victor Osimhen named the winner of the 2023 CAF Africa Player of the Year, beating Morocco’s Achraf Hakimi and Egypt’s Mohamed Salah to the coveted honour.
Barcelona forward Asisat Oshoala won the Women’s Best Player award, while Super Falcons’ shot-stopper Chiamaka Nnadozie was voted the Goalkeeper of the Year.
Following their exceptional displays at the FIFA Women’s World Cup, where they lost none of their matches in regulation time, the Super Falcons were named the best female national team on the continent.
Osimhen dethrones Kanu
Nwankwo Kanu was the last Nigerian to win the African Footballer of the Year award in 1999, with that record standing for 24 years before Osimhen smashed it to pieces on Monday night.
The Arsenal legend has already congratulated his younger compatriot, and word on the street screams that Osimhen could go for a second title next year to match Kanu’s second record at the Awards.
King Kanu will surely not be displeased that a boy from a lowly Lagos suburb has taken his crown, right?
Amunike will feel the heat for the next few days
1994 CAF Footballer of the Year Emmanuel Amunike was the coach who discovered Osimhen at the grassroots and nurtured him to teen stardom at the 2015 FIFA U17 World Cup, which Nigeria won with remarkable ease.
Since then, Osimhen has often acknowledged Amunike as his mentor.
Strangely, though, ahead of the CAF Awards, Amunike tipped Liverpool’s Salah to beat Osimhen to the Best Player award.
Funny enough, Osimhen won the accolade and then praised Amunike for the former Barcelona man’s role in his development.
Nigerians on X (formerly Twitter) have been roasting Amunike since, and it does not look like it will end anytime soon.
Is Oshoala the greatest female footballer in Africa’s history?
Oshoala, in Marrakech, Morocco, sealed her greatness when she secured her sixth Africa Women’s Player of the Year award.
It is the most any individual – male or female – has won on the continent, guaranteeing her place among the greats in the history of the game.
That is no mean feat for a continent that has been blessed with the likes of Perpetual Nkwocha, Mercy Akide, Alberta Sackey, Adjoa Bayor, Cynthia Uwak, and Gaëlle Enganamouit among many others.
It is safe to say that at 29, Oshoala does not look done yet.
Let’s do this again next year, Super Zee, shall we?
When your father’s criticism pushes you into the record books
Nnadozie has often told the story of how her father nearly derailed her dreams of becoming a professional goalkeeper.
She did a remix of it again after receiving her Best Goalkeeper award, and this time, she deployed the tale to charge all young girls on the continent to shoot for their dreams even when close relatives are their harshest critics.
We all can thank Chiamaka’s father for being the motivation behind his daughter’s quest for excellence, which, among other things, led her to keep three clean sheets at the World Cup and help Paris FC qualify for the UEFA Women’s Champions League.
Nnadozie also entered the record books as the first player to win the Women’s Goalkeeper of the Year award, as this year is the first it has been given.
The congratulations are flowing in
William Troost-Ekong was among the first players to congratulate Victor Osimhen after his historic victory.
Victor Boniface and Osimhen consider each other brothers in the struggle, and the Bayer Leverkusen man was quick to shine the light on his friend’s latest achievement.
Italians have joined in the celebration as the Prince of Naples becomes the King of Africa.
No one wants to be left behind. Osimhen, the Golden Boy.
Nigerians in the Team of the Year
For the men, Osimhen is the only Nigerian to feature in Africa’s Best Eleven. The Napoli man takes the striker’s spot in a front three and flanked by Sadio Mane and Mo Salah.
In the women’s category, three Super Falcons stars made the Team of the Year.
Interestingly, Nnadozie missed out on the goalkeeper’s spot, but Michelle Alozie came in at right-back while Osinachi Ohale held her place in the heart of the defence.
Oshoala completed the Nigerian representation with the number nine role in the attack.
What an amazing night for Nigerian football!