Victor Osimhen makes the final three man shortlist for the 2023 CAF Player Award.
The Napoli hitman will contend with Moroccan Achraf Hakimi who had a historic run at the Mundial in Qatar 2022 and Liverpool Mohammed Salah whose achievements were more individual than team-based.
The last Nigerian to win the African footballer of the year was Kanu Nwankwo in 1999.
The only Nigerian who came closeset to winning the award was John Obi Mikel in 2013, but he lost out to Ivory Coast star, Yaya Toure.
The ex-Chelsea and Super Eagles captain in an interview in Dubai in February claimed:”I was robbed mate”, after an outstanding 2013 with Nigeria and Chelsea, where he won the AFCON, he played an integral role in Chelsea’s UEFA Champions League triumph, he also won the Europa League in the same year.
Sport enthusiasts in Nigeria are anticipating and waiting for the announcement of their own Victor Osimhen to win the coveted African Player of the Year accolade.
Persecond News takes a critical look at the three nominated players and who had a better year/season.
Victor Osimhen (Nigeria)
Last season his superiority was clear for all to see, he was too powerful and mentally strong that he became unstoppable smashing every possible record available in Italy and powered his Napoli side to their first league title in 33 years.
Osimhen became the first African player in the 125-year-history of the Italian top flight to win the Seria A golden boot.
The absolute goal machine in the 2022/2023 season broke the record for the most Seria A goals scored by an African player in a single season with 26 goals in Seria A.
On Monday, the former Lille and Wolfsburg striker was crowned the Italian Footballers Association Player of the Year, joining the elite list of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Cristiano Ronaldo, Andrea Pirlo and last year’s winner Rafael Leao as recipients of the prize.
In the AFCON 2023 qualifiers, he emerged as the highest goal scorer with his 10 goals helping Super Eagles qualify for the Nation’s Cup which will be played in January 2024.
The Lagos-born striker defeated Sadio Mane of Senegal, and Salah to clinch the award.
Osimhen has been hit by injury this season but the 24-year-old has scored six goals in 10 league games and he was the highest ranked African player for the FIFA’s men player of the year award.
Achraf Hakimi (Morocco)
Another top contender for the prestigious Player of the Year award is Moroccan Hakimi, he was a phenomenal force with his national team when they become the first African country to reach the World Cup Semi-final at Qatar 2022.
The Morocco national team entertained the world and disrupted football established order with Hakimi spear heading the team from the flanks.
He made the most tackles at the World Cup (22), and created numer chances from open for his teammates to exploit their opponent.
He won the Ligue 1 last season with PSG, scored five goals and provided three assist on their road to clinch the trophy.
In the 2023/2024 season, Hakimi has created more chances from open play than any other player in the Champions League so far.
Mohammed Salah (Egypt)
The Egyptian 2022/2023 was productive generally, he managed 30 in all competition, while he registered 31 goals involvement in the Premier League (G19 A12).
Only Erling Haaland had higher non-penalty expected goals total than Salah in the league.
This season, Salah is unstoppable notching 10 goals and six assists in 15 games so far.
Salah on March 2023 scored his 50th international goal for Egypt, making Egypt the only African team with more than one player who had scored at least 50 international goals.
On November 2023, Salah netted four goals in Egypt’s 6-0 win over Dijbouti, and became Egypt’s highest goalscorer in World Cup qualification matches, overtaking Mohamed Aboutrika.