Following a historical Monday night in Paris where he was ranked the eighth best player in the world at the 2023 Ballon d’Or France Football award ceremony, Minister of Sports Development, John Enoh, and other Nigerians have backed Victor Osimhen to win the coveted CAF Africa Player of the Year Award.
The Napoli striker was on Wednesday nominated alongside 29 stars for the award by continental body Confederation of African Football. Genk forward Gift Orban was also nominated for the Young Player of The Year award.
Since 1999, when Nwankwo Kanu emerged as winner of the award, no Nigerian has won the Best Player award with Mikel Obi and Vincent Enyeama the closest after they finished second and third respectively in 2013 and 2014.860.7
The awards, which recognise the standout performers for club and country over the past year, will be held December 11 in Morocco.
In the men’s category, Senegal and Al Nassr forward, Sadio Mane, claimed the prestigious award last year but faces stiff competition from the Super Eagles forward, who had an impressive 2022/23 season with Napoli.
The 24-year-old made history as the first African to be crowned top scorer in Serie A last season. The Napoli man is also the first player from Africa to win the Scudetto and top scorer award same season, after scoring 26 Serie A goals (31 goals in 39 games across all competitions).
Osimhen also helped the Partenopei reach the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League for the very first time in the club’s history last term, with the former Lille striker voted the Serie A best striker for the year.
He had a remarkable outing with the Eagles during the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, scoring 10 goals to finish as the top scorer during the qualifying series, while also helping to secure a spot for the Eagles at next year’s continental showpiece event.
His outstanding performance for the 2022/23 season earned a nomination for the Ballon d’or thus becoming the first Nigerian footballer shortlisted for the award in 24 years, with former Eagles captain Kanu the last Nigerian player to be shortlisted for the award in 1999.
Osimhen ended in eighth position in the Ballon d’Or award on Monday in Paris— the highest African ranking — and has now been tipped as favourite to win the CAF Best Player Award.
While congratulating the Nigeria international for his exceptional achievement, Enoh acknowledged that winning the CAF award was next for the forward.
Enoh said, “The Ballon d’Or, a world-renowned accolade, recognises and celebrates the most outstanding football players across the globe. For Victor Osimhen to be ranked eighth among such elite company is a testament to his incredible dedication, skill and determination.
“Victor’s journey in football is far from over, and I believe he has the potential to achieve even greater heights in the coming years. We will continue to provide the necessary support to ensure that he and other athletes like him have the opportunity to reach their full potential. Next, we are backing him to win the CAF Men’s Best Player Award.”
Osimhen’s agent Roberto Calenda, while congratulating the Napoli star for ranking eighth in the 2023 Ballon d’Or., posted on X, expressing his pride and belief in Osimhen’s future.
He stated, “You made history and the future is yours. Victor is coming!”
Ace sports journalist and Director of Sports, Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries, Godwin Enakhena, added, “If Osimhen is Africa’s best after finishing among the top 8 in the Ballon d’Or ranking, any reason why he shouldn’t win CAF Africa’s Best Player award?”
Former Eagles midfielder, John Ogu, wrote on his X account, “Dear @CAF_Online, I’m sure y’all saw the whole Ballon dor setting last night. This is exactly how we want such an award to be delivered and well organised for our star boy @victorosimhen9 as the Best player in Africa. Thank you in advance.”
Another journalist, Olawale Ayeni, tweeted, “CAF will not want to be dragged by Nigerians and the rest of the world. I am sure the award is already for Victor Osimhen. The 2023 African Player of the Year award is now done and dusted for Osimhen, congratulations champ.”
An X user, OllikBrown, wrote, “There’s no reason why Osimhen isn’t gonna be winning the Africa Footballer of the Year award.”
“This is a great achievement for Victor Osimhen and Nigeria as a country—African GOAT. Definitely should be winning the next CAF African Footballer of the Year Award,” Slimfit tweeted.