Although none of her players made the final cut for the Africa Player of the Year and Africa –based Player of the Year nominations, Nigeria made bold presence in the other categories released on Sunday.
Super Falcons’ forward Asisat Oshoala and Super Eagles’ aces Kelechi Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi were among those nominated for honours at the Glo-CAF African Football Awards taking place in Abuja on 5th January 2017.
In a release by the Confederation of African Football, Oshoala was listed alongside South African Janine Van Wyk, Ghanaian Elizabeth Addo and Cameroonians Gabrielle Aboudi Onguene and Raissa Feudjio Tchuanyo for the Women’s Player of the Year.
Oshoala won the award in 2014, alongside being named Youth Player of the Year. Cameroonian Gaelle Deborah Enganamouit was named Women’s Player of the Year 2015.
In the category of Most Promising Talent, Manchester City of England ace Kelechi Iheanacho is listed with fellow Nigerian Oghenekaro Etebo, Guinean Naby Keita, Elia Meshack of DR Congo and Ramadan Soby of Egypt.
Iheanacho scored in four consecutive matches for the Super Eagles against Mali, Luxembourg, Tanzania and Zambia, and has been impressive for his English top tier club, for whom he scored in the UEFA Champions League last week. Etebo was the hero of Nigeria’s bronze medal feat at the Olympics in Brazil, scoring four goals in the 5-4 thumping of Japan.
The Youth Player of the Year list was headed by Arsenal of England star Alex Iwobi, who scored Nigeria’s first goal of the 2018 FIFA World Cup race, away to Zambia in Ndola in October. He contests with Ghanaians Eric Ayiah and Sandra Owusu-Ansah, Ivorian Franck Kessie and Mali U20 ace Sidiki Maiga.
Florence Omagbemi, the only person to have won the Women Africa Cup of Nations as captain and coach, contests for Coach of the Year with DR Congo’s Florent Ibenge, Uganda Coach Milutin Sredojevic, Nacer Sandjak of CAF Confederation Cup winners MO Bejaia and Pitso Mosimane of CAF Champions League winners Mamelodi Sundowns.
Nigeria’s Super Falcons will battle for Women’s Team of the Year with Cameroon, Ghana, South Africa and Zimbabwe, while Nigeria’s U23 team, bronze winners at the Olympics, will tug with DR Congo (CHAN winners), Senegal, Guinea Bissau and Uganda (the last two for qualifying for 2017 AFCON). Guinea Bissau are making their debut while Uganda are back among the elites of African football after 38 years.
Sundowns, Bejaia, TP Mazembe, Zamalek and Zesco United compete for Club of the Year, while Gambian Papa Gassama, Egyptian Ghead Grisha and Senegalese Malang Diedhiou are in the race for Referee of the Year. Incidentally, Gassama handled the Nigeria/Algeria 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier in Uyo while Grisha was in charge of the first qualifying match away to Zambia in Ndola.