Osimhen, Oshoala and Morocco steal the show at African football awards

Victor Osimhen scored 26 goals as he helped Napoli to a surprise triumph in Serie A last season and was the leading marksmen in Italy’s top division [File: Ciro De Luca/Reuters]

Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen has been named African Footballer of the Year after beating Mohamed Salah to the award at a ceremony in Marrakesh.

Osimhen’s compatriot Asisat Oshoala bagged the women’s prize for a record-extending sixth time at the gala on Monday night. The star striker, who plays for Barcelona, battled injury to help her side to the round of 16 at the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, where they took England to penalties.

The 24-year-old Osimhen scored 26 goals as he helped Napoli to a surprise triumph in Serie A last season and was the leading marksmen in Italy’s top division.

Egypt’s Liverpool forward Salah and Morocco’s Paris St Germain right back Achraf Hakimi were the other two final nominees, but Osimhen claimed the prize to become the first Nigerian winner since Nwankwo Kanu in 1999.

“It is a dream come true. I have to thank everybody who has helped me on this journey and all Africans who have helped to put me on the map despite my faults,” Osimhen said.

Morocco won National Team of the Year in the men’s category after their thrilling run to the World Cup semifinals in Qatar while their manager, Walid Regragui, won Coach of the Year.

Nigeria took home the trophy for National Team of the Year for women, but South Africa’s Desiree Ellis won women’s Coach of the Year for the fourth time in succession.

France-based Chiamaka Nnadozie was named the top women’s goalkeeper on the continent.

Nigeria’s got talent

The Nigerian Presidency congratulated all the country’s winners, describing their awards in a post on X as inspirational.

“This recognition at the highest level is a massive shot in the arm for Nigeria football,” Abuja Football Association Chairman Adam Muktar Mohammed told the Agence France-Presse news agency.

“Evidently, there is an abundance of talent in Nigeria. We only have to harness this talent to be a major force in international football.”

However, Nigeria’s 2026 World Cup hopes are already in jeopardy after they drew their first two qualifiers against Lesotho and Zimbabwe last month.

The men’s team also failed to reach last year’s World Cup in Qatar after losing to Ghana on away goals in a playoff.

Several Super Eagles stars led by captain Ahmed Musa and defender William Ekong as well as coach Jose Peseiro joined in the tributes for Osimhen after he was named CAF Player of the Year.

“Congrats once again @victorosimhen9 @asisatoshoala proud of you,” Musa wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

“Well deserved @victorosimhen9, we are all proud of you,” Ekong added.

aljazeera.com

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