ABUJA- Mouktar Mohammed, the Chairman, FCT Football Association has said that Victor Osimhen deserves to win the African Player of the Year award 2023.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Osimhen was among 30 players listed for the top prize; CAF African Player of the Year 2023 announced by CAF on Wednesday.
The Awards Gala is scheduled for Dec. 11 in Marrakech, Morocco.
Mohammed told NAN that Osimhen had worked really hard in the year under review to earn his place in both Africa and the world football top rankings.
NAN also reports that Osimhen made history for Nigeria and Africa as he finished in an impressive eight position in the 2023 Men’s Ballon d’Or rankings on Monday.
He became the first Nigerian to be nominated and finished in the top 10 in the male category in 24 years.
Sunday Oliseh and Kanu Nwankwo were nominated for the 1998 and 1999 Ballon d’Or awards but did not finish in the top 20.
With his eight-place finish, the goal-scoring machine sets the record as the highest-ranked Nigerian player at the Ballon d’Or and also the highest-ranked African player at this year’s edition.
“I think he has done enough to win the Africa Player of the Year Award. He deserves it, especially after finishing 8th on the Ballon d’Or list.
“Osimhen was in fine form in the 2022/2023 season, as his 25 league goals helped Italian football royalty Napoli to their first Seria A title in 33 years.
“He pipped Lautaro Martinez of Inter Milan and AC Milan’s Rafael Leao to clinch the Best Striker in Serie A gong.
“Osimhen scored five times in six games for Napoli as they reached the quarterfinal stages of the UEFA Champions League,” he said.
He said that Osimhen was also instrumental in the Super Eagles sealing a ticket for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
Mohammed said that his league goals helped him become the first African to top the Serie A scorers’ chart, and break George Weah’s record for the most goals scored by an African in the Italian league.
The football administrator said however that even though Osimhen was good enough to win the CAF Men’s award, there were other factors that could count against him.
He said that emotions were sometimes involved with the African awards, so one might never know, adding that there have been big surprises in the past.
“The World Cup tournament is seen as the biggest platform and Nigeria couldn’t qualify for the showpiece in Qatar.
“Osimhen’s greatest challenge may likely come from Morocco and Paris Saint-Germain’s Achraf Hakimi who won a title with his club and went all the way to the World Cup semi-finals with his country, which is massive.
“Then there is also Algeria’s Riyad Mahrez who won the treble with Manchester City, including the English Premier League, the FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League.
“You also have to consider the sharp regional divide and vested interest. The Anglophone and Francophone dichotomy has always been in existence, so that is another factor from the political angle.
“But having said that, I still strongly believe that what Osimhen has achieved is incredible and he deserves to win it,” he said.(NAN)