Two of Nigeria’s brightest players in 2019 will be cynosure of all eyes today at the annual CAF Awards Gala tonight at Albatros Citadel Sahl Hasheesh in the Egyptian City of Hurghada as Lille forward Victor Osimhen and Villarreal winger Samuel Chukwueze jostle for the Africa Youth Player of the Year.
The Nigerian youngsters, who were the fulcrum of the Under-17 FIFA World Cup-winning team of 2015 under Coach Emmanuel Amuneke, were a beacon for both club and country last year and have been pitted against Morocco’s Borussia Dortmund midfielder Achraf Hakimi.
“It‘s a healthy feeling between Samuel and I ; and we have talked and joked about it after we saw that we both made the cut for the Top Three Players for the Africa Youth Player of the Year,” Osimhen who nicked the same award in Abuja after his stellar performance at Chile 2015 said.
“We have both had a great 2019 and it’s not something any one of us would be sad about should the other person win the award; we would be happy whoever wins it.
“I’m really happy we have both been nominated for the award and it will be a great credit for any one of us to win it.
“We have had this relationship for the past four to five years now; and we have been best friends and very good we’ve both been doing well for our club sides and country, we want to build on this momentum as well as continue to make the country proud,” noted the lanky forward.
Chukwueze equally spoke in the same vein: “I think any of the three players nominated for the Africa Youth Player of the Year deserves to win it; but I’ll consider myself also the winner if he (Osimhen) wins it, and I know this is the same feelings he has for me because we have joked and laughed over it.”
Though no Nigerian players is in the Top Three for the blue-ribbon African Footballer of the Year (APOTY) for 2019, both Victor Osimhen and Samuel Chukwueze admitted it would be a close contest among Liverpool duo of Egyptian Mohammed Salah and Senegalese Saido Mane as well as Man City’s Algeria 2019 AFCON –winning captain Riyad Mahrez.
“Personally, I think these three players deserves the Africa Player of the Year for 2019,” explained Osimhen. “But I think Saido Mane would win it for what he has done for his country and club.”
But Chukwueze only toed a middle course and was not as audacious as his Super Eagles’ teammate.
“I don’t know who to pick because these are three fantastic players that did so well in 2019,” explained Osimhen who was rewarded with the 2018 Nigeria Youth Player of the Year by NFF.
“I think the three of them deserves to win the award because they all did a fantastic job last season and are still doing well even now; If I’m the CAF President, I will give each of them the award because they all did well in 2019.”
Meanwhile, Asisat Oshoala is the other Nigerian interest for an individual honour at this year’s CAF Awards gala and the Barcelona forward is in line for a record-equalling fourth African Women’s Player of the Year title.
Oshoala, winner in 2014, 2016 and 2017, is up against Ajara Nchout (Cameroon & Valerenga) and Thembi Kgatlana (South Africa & Beijing Phoenix FC).
Erstwhile Super Falcons’ Swede coach Thomas Dennerby will contest for the African Women’s Coach of the Year against Alain Djeumfa (Cameroon) and Desiree Ellis (South Africa); while the Super Falcons’ are also in the running for African Women’s National Team of the Year against Indomitable Lionesses of Cameroon and Banyana Banyana of South Africa.
Meanwhile, NationSport gathered late last night that Osimhen might not grace the award ceremony in Cairo due to important club engagement tomorrow with Lille hosting Amiens in one of the quarter-finals ties of the French League Cup.