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Gusau hails Nigeria’s big win at 2023 CAF Awards

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President of Nigeria Football Federation, Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Gusau was a very happy man on Monday night, as Nigeria swept important honours at this year’s CAF Football Awards held in Marrakech, Morocco.

The NFF supremo was personally present at the Hotel Movenpick and collected the first honour that came Nigeria’s way – Women’s National Team of the Year.

He dedicated the award to all women football teams on the African continent.

Chiamaka Nnadozie, who shone brightly at the FIFA World Cup finals in Down Under this year summer as the Super Falcons reached the Round of 16, was the undoubted winner of the honour of Goalkeeper of the Year (Women)

The Paris FC of France safe hands made a moving speech: “To all the young girls growing up in Africa, dreaming of becoming a footballer one day, believe me dreams do come true. My dad didn’t want me to play football but I’m sure he’s gonna see this and be happy. So, keep dreaming, keep working and I believe that one day you’ll get to this stage.”

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After Asisat Oshoala won a record-extending sixth award as Player of the Year (Women) the auditorium went silent as it was time to present the men’s version. Nigeria’s Victor Osimhen, Morocco’s Achraf Hakimi and Egypt’s Mohamed Salah were the final three.

Osimhen was crowned, becoming the first Nigeria player in 24 years to take the gong. The last person was Nwankwo Kanu, back in 1999. Kanu also won in 1996, after Rashidi Yekini in 1993 and Emmanuel Amuneke in 1994. Victor Ikpeba took the crown in 1997.

Gusau said: “I am very excited tonight. This has been hugely rewarding for our football and for our country as a whole. I congratulate Osimhen, Oshoala and Nnadozie, and I congratulate the Super Falcons as a team for bringing us this honour.

“My charge would be that they all keep doing what they know how to do best, keep improving and keep winning. The sky will be the beginning for them.”

Osimhen became the first player in the history of the African Football Awards to have been crowned Player of the Year (Men) after having pocketed the Young Player of the Year (Men) in an earlier year. Only last Monday, the 24-year-old was crowned the 2022/2023 Player of the Year in Italy’s Serie A, after having won the Young Player of the Year in the same league in the 2021/2022 season.

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

AFRICA FOOTBALL LEAGUE

Gusau hails Nigeria’s big win at 2023 CAF Awards

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President of Nigeria Football Federation, Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Gusau was a very happy man on Monday night, as Nigeria swept important honours at this year’s CAF Football Awards .

The NFF supremo was personally present at the Hotel Movenpick and collected the first honour that came Nigeria’s way – Women’s National Team of the Year<span.

He dedicated the award to all women football teams on the African continent.

Chiamaka Nnadozie, who shone brightly at the FIFA World Cup finals in Down Under this year summer as the Super Falcons reached the Round of 16, was the undoubted winner of the honour of Goalkeeper of the Year (Women).The Paris FC of France safe hands made a moving speech: “To all the young girls growing up in Africa, dreaming of becoming a footballer one day, believe me dreams do come true. My dad didn’t want me to play football but I’m sure he’s gonna see this and be happy. So, keep dreaming, keep working and I believe that one day you’ll get to this stage.”

After Asisat Oshoala won a record-extending sixth award as Player of the Year (Women)<span;>, the auditorium went silent as it was time to present the men’s version. Nigeria’s Victor Osimhen, Morocco’s Achraf Hakimi and Egypt’s Mohamed Salah were the final three.

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Osimhen was crowned, becoming the first Nigeria player in 24 years to take the gong. The last person was Nwankwo Kanu, back in 1999. Kanu also won in 1996, after Rashidi Yekini in 1993 and Emmanuel Amuneke in 1994. Victor Ikpeba took the crown in 1997.

Gusau said: “I am very excited tonight. This has been hugely rewarding for our football and for our country as a whole. I congratulate Osimhen, Oshoala and Nnadozie, and I congratulate the Super Falcons as a team for bringing us this honour.

My charge would be that they all keep doing what they know how to do best, keep improving and keep winning. The sky will be the beginning for them.”

Osimhen became the first player in the history of the African Football Awards to have been crowned Player of the Year (Men) after having pocketed the Young Player of the Year (Men) in an earlier year. Only last Monday, the 24-year-old was crowned the 2022/2023 Player of the Year in Italy’s Serie A, after having won the Young Player of the Year in the same league in the 2021/2022 season.

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AFRICA FOOTBALL LEAGUE

VIDEO: The Eagle has landed! Osimhen hits Marrakech in private Jet

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA. Palais des Congrès, Movenpick, Marrakech, MOROCCO

The star man of the day, Nigeria’s Victor Osimhen has finally landed in the Atlas Mountain city of Marrakech which is hosting the 2023 CAF Awards.

Dressed in sky blue shirts over an orange vest and blue shorts, the Napoli talismanic striker landed in a chattered private jet.

He is hoped to break the 24-year jinx that has afflicted Nigeria in the lead category of the CAF Awards. Nwankwo Kanu who was honoured on the opening match of the 2000 Africa Cup of Nations in Lagos was the last Nigerian to have won.

That award was for the 1999 edition.

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AFRICA FOOTBALL LEAGUE

Osimhen may become next big name to miss out on prime prize of African Footballer of the Year

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Palais des Congrès, Movenpick, Marrakech, MOROCCO

The local television stations here in Morocco has been vocal in beaming the exploits of home boy, Achraf Hakimi the right back who played a crucial role in pushing Morocco to an historic World Cup semi-finals last year in Qatar.

Hakimi took the winning kick in the penalty shoot-out against Spain which launched  Morocco, Africa and the entire Arab World into a historic World Cup semi-finals for the first time ever.

Clips of Hakimi’s exploits, at the Paris St-Germain are also being aired in apparent motive of shaping the awards’ outcome.

He now stands as the main obstacle to the apparent front runner, Victor Osimhen.

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Should Hakimi wins, it will be the second time a Moroccan had beaten a Nigerian at the last hour, bringing in the memory of the 1998 episode when Mustapha Hadji edged out the front-runner, Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha.

But with Osimhen ranking highest among the African players at the 2023 Ballon d’Or, he still looks the most likely winner of the prime CAF Award ahead of the duo of Hakimi and Mohamed Salah.

If he wins, he becomes the first Nigerian to do so since the 1999 award to Nwankwo Kanu.

He will also become the first winner to have previously won the

Best Young Player of the Year. He was the African Best Young player in 2015 courtesy of his performances at the FIFA U17 World Cup that year.

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In the Women’s category, record-extending Asisat Oshoala had previously won the Best Young Player of the Year (Women) in 2014.

But sometimes, expectations don’t square up with results. In the past, there have been frontrunners who stumbled on the last day as exemplified by Mikel Obi who was expected to win the title, on home soil in 2013 after Nigeria had won the Africa Cup of Nations that year.

Similar examples are that of Okocha in 1998 and Ghana’s Michael Esssien who  made the CAF award shortlist every year from 2005 to 2009, and finished second behind Mali striker Frederic Kanoute in 2007.

His compatriot and Ghana’s all-time leading goalscorer Asamoah Gyan is another notable name to miss out, finishing behind Eto’o in 2010, while Bayern Munich and Black Stars centre-back Samuel Kuffour was second in both 1999 and 2001.

Other notable misses are those of  Egypt’s Mohamed Aboutrika  in 2006 and 2010 as well as South Africa’s Benni McCarthy in 1996.

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