On Tuesday, 8th January 2019, Confederation of African Football (CAF) will hold their Awards Gala in Dakar, Senegal. The most prestigious award of the night is the African Player of the Year (POTY). Since the year 2000, a Nigerian player has won that award amazing seven times. Among the winners are two current Nigerian stars – Kelechi Iheanacho, who has won it twice, in 2013 and 2016, and Oghenekaro Etebo, who has won it in 2015.
This year, three Super Eagles have been nominated to the POTY award; Alex Iwobi from Arsenal, Ahmed Musa from Al Nassr FC and Odion Ighalo, the Changchun Yatai player. Along with them, Wilfred Ndidi has been nominated for Youth Player of the Year while the Nigerian head coach Gernot Rohr is in the running for the Coach of the Year award.
Alex Iwobi, who has, before the start of the 2018/19 season penned a new five-year deal with Arsenal, has been a solid player for the Gunners this year. Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger had him in high regard and so does the current manager, Unai Emery. He’s been improving as the season’s progressing and has been an integral part of Arsenal’s 17-game undefeated run in all competition. Iwobi has also put in excellent performances for his country, playing in the creative Number 10 position.
Odion Ighalo, currently injured and recovering, has been a revelation for the Super Eagles scoring four goals in two games and six in five qualifiers before he was injured. In China, he has been amazing, scoring 36 goals in 55 games for his club Changchun Yatai.
Ahmed Musa, formerly a Leicester player, now playing for Al Nassr FC in Saudi Arabia, has shown he had the leadership skills, even at a young age, to lead his Super Eagles to successful qualification for the African Cup of Nations tournament in Cameroon next year. Since John Obi Mikel has been missing from the Nigerian squad, Ahmed Musa has been a stand-in captain and has done the job well. In nine games for the Saudi team, he has scored five goals.
Gernot Rohr has been the head coach for the Nigerian star team since 2016 and has won 19 games out of the 33 he led, with just six defeats.
Wilfred Ndidi has been a rock in the Leicester City midfield this season and he’s done the same superb job for Nigeria. He’s in the running for the African Youth Player of the Year after he’s been voted the Foxes’ Young Player of the Year for the past two years.
The CAF Awards Gala is an annual event which pays tribute to the best African players and officials who have done an excellent job in the year gone by.