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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Nigerian Forward Osimhen Clinches African Player of the Year Award

By John Adiasi

Nigerian Forward Osimhen Clinches African Player of the Year Award

In a remarkable triumph, Victor Osimhen secured the African Player of the Year accolade, prevailing over stiff competition from Achraf Hakimi of Morocco and Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah. This prestigious award served as the pinnacle of an outstanding year for the Super Eagles’ forward, culminating in Nigeria’s 24-year-long quest for Africa’s top individual prize. The last Nigerian to claim this honor was the legendary Kanu Nwankwo in 1999.

Osimhen’s noteworthy performances for both his club side Napoli and the national team played a pivotal role in his recognition. His instrumental role in Napoli’s unprecedented Serie A title triumph saw him clinch the coveted Pichichi (top scorer) award, becoming the first African player to achieve this feat with 26 goals in the league. In doing so, he surpassed George Weah’s record as the highest-scoring player from the continent in Italy’s top flight. Napoli’s previous Scudetto win occurred 33 years ago during the era of the revered Diego Maradona. Osimhen’s exceptional contributions led to his inclusion in the Serie A Team of the Year for the 2022/23 campaign, where he also secured the Best Striker prize.

Furthermore, Osimhen’s impressive ranking of ninth in the 2023 Ballon d’Or standings underscored his influence on Napoli’s historic season. This accolade not only solidified his position as the highest-ranked African player for the year but also marked him as the most highly ranked Nigerian in the award’s history. Earlier in the year, he became the first African to be crowned as the Italian Footballers’ Association Player of the Year (AIC award).

Despite Nigeria’s unfortunate exclusion from the 2022 World Cup, losing the qualifying spot to perennial rivals Ghana, Osimhen’s contributions to the Super Eagles throughout the year were nothing short of remarkable. He emerged as the top scorer in the qualification race for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) with an impressive tally of 10 goals.

While injuries have hindered Osimhen’s performance for Napoli this season, resulting in just six goals in 10 games under Walter Mazzari’s leadership, the African Player of the Year award serves as the pinnacle of an immensely successful year for the talented Nigerian striker.


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