CAF Awards 2023: Can Osimhen end Nigeria's 24-year wait for an African football king?Published: December 11, 2023
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) awards 2023 edition beckons, with the event scheduled to hold on the 11th of December 2023.
The final three man shortlist of nominees for the prestigious awards was made public by the continent's football governing body last week.
It's no more news that SSC Napoli star Victor Osimhen, is amongst the final contenders to scoop the highly coveted Player of the Year award alongside Liverpool's Mohamed Salah and PSG's Achraf Hakimi.
However, the pedigree of the players nominated alongside the former Lille marksman has raised some concerns as to whether he might be able to land the award.
The last time a Nigerian scooped Africa's prestigious football individual accolade was in 1999 when Arsenal legend Nwankwo Kanu beat Samuel Kuffour and Ibrahima Bakayoko to the prize.
Notably, Nigeria has managed podium finishes since Kanu scooped the award. In 2003, four years after Kanu's triumph, Austin 'Jay-Jay' Okocha finished third behind Samuel Eto'o and Didier Drogba, with the exact same occurrence repeating itself in the following year (2004).
Nine years later, John Mikel Obi fell to second place behind Ivory Coast's Yaya Toure, edging former Chelsea team who finished third in 2013.
Vincent Enyeama also finished third the following year behind second placed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Gabon and eventual back-to-back winner, Yaya Toure.
Interestingly, Victor Osimhen is the first Nigerian to be nominated for the final three man shortlist in the last decade, with Moses Simon failing to make the final shortlist after some brilliant performances at the 2021 AFCON which earned him a nomination.
One might be tempted to think that the former Nigeria U-17 international might have done more than enough to scoop the award given his all-round statistics for last season notching 36 goal contributions in 39 appearances for his club as well as clinching the Scuddetto with the Partenopei.
However, Morrocco's Hakimi stands quite a chance of scooping the award right under Osimhen's nose after guiding the Atlas Lions to the 2022 FIFA World Cup semi final, highest ever finish by an African team at the 4-year tournament and won the Ligue 1 with Paris Saint Germain (PSG) registering 5 goals and 6 assists in 39 appearances along the way.
Egypt's Mohamed Salah also had a pretty decent season with his club Liverpool, poaching 19 goals and registering 12 assists in 38 Premier League appearances for the Merseyside Reds along the way, but failed to secure a world cup ticket for his country in 2022.
Given the fact that last season happened to be a World Cup year, it's not out of place to think that Hakimi might get the nod over his fellow nominees.
After all, the Ballon d'Or was awarded to Lionel Messi ahead of the treble-winning Erling Haaland largely based on his performances at the World cup, winning just one trophy with PSG.
In conclusion, Osimhen was the recently named Serie A Player of the Year and finished 8th place in the Ballon d'Or rankings but that might not guarantee his chances of winning the award ahead of his fellow nominees.
Should the award be based on individual statistics from the previous season, the former OSC Lile hitman is well on course to end Nigeria's 24-year wait for an African football king.
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