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The Nigerian duo of Victor Osimhen and Asisat Oshola have emerged Africa’s male and female footballers of the year 2023.

Osimhen beat off challenges from Egyptian Mohamed Salah and Moroccan Achraf Hakimi to be crowned the 2023 African Player, while Asisat Oshoala won a record-extending sixth award as Player of the Year (Women), beating South Africa’s Thembi Klagtlana and Zambia’s Barbara Banda to the crown.

Osimhen’s heroic feat in Morocco ended Nigeria’s 24-year-old wait for Africa’s top individual prize. Kanu Nwankwo was the last Nigerian to win the award and that was in 1999.

Osimhen became the fifth Nigerian international to achieve this feat after Rashidi Yekini (1993),Emmanuel Amunike (1994), Nwankwo Kanu (1996), Victor Ikpeba (1997) and Nwankwo Kanu ( 1999).

The prize is a recognition of Osimhen’s exploits for his Italian side, Napoli and the Super Eagles where he is a key member. Nigerian forward’s league-leading 26 goals for Napoli last season lifted the club to its first Serie A title in 33 years. His contribution broke George Weah’s record as the highest-scoring player from the continent in the Italian top flight.

Osimhen also 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.

After picking the award, Osimhen expressed appreciation to God and his coach at the U17 national team level, Emmanuel Amunike, saying without the former Nigerian winger he wouldn’t have achieved the feat.

“Thank God for everything. My special thanks to Emmanuel Amunike, without him I wouldn’t be standing here tonight holding this prestigious and iconic football award. I appreciate everyone for supporting me, thanks to Emmanuel Adebayor, Salomon Kaluo and every African legend that encouraged me to reach this level in my career. I can’t forget Didier Drogba, my role model for inspiring me.”

Nigeria’s Super Falcons were also adjudged the best Women’s National Team of the Year following their impressive feat at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Chiamaka Nnadozie, who shone brightly at the FIFA World Cup finals 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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