Riyad Mahrez Wins CAF Award While Oshoala Bags it For Nigerians.


Yaya Toure Asisat Oshoala
GLO CAF 2016 Award
Algeria and Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez was crowned the 2016 African Player of the Year at the 25th edition of the Glo-CAF Awards held in Abuja.

Meanwhile, members of the Nigerian football family picked up four of the awards at the Glo-CAF Awards 2016 for outstanding football personalities and teams in 2016.

While no Nigerian player made it to the final shortlist of three in the African Player of the Year Award category, Super Falcons forward Asisat Oshoala made the day for Nigerians.

A cross section of Football Stakeholders, who spoke to NAN in separate interviews on the sidelines of the Glo Caf Awards, expressed mixed feelings at the outcome of the awards.

Amaju Pinnick, the President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) said , “Overall it was not a bad outing; out of the nine awards, at least we won four and there are 54 countries in the African continent.

“We are happy, we are fulfilled, we thank God and want to thank Glo for bringing the awards once again to Nigeria. “We are not happy we aren’t going to the Nations Cup. I am really sad because I am not just the president of the NFF but also a fan of the Super Eagles which makes it really hard for me.

“But we want to try and compensate Nigeria by going to the World Cup; not just going to there, but making our presence felt and breaking new grounds when we get there.

“So, by God’s grace, we will make Nigerians very proud come Russia 2018,” Pinnick said. Gbenga Elegbeye, the former Director-General of the National Sports Commission (NSC) said winning the African player award was all about personal commitment and hard work on the part of the players.

“Whatever you are doing, you must take it seriously. I don’t think it is a Nigerian thing. “Those boys are not playing in this country, they are in Europe and their counterparts are also there playing. So, they must give their best.

“Also, they must aspire and strive to play for better clubs with pedigree,” he said. Elegbeleye was, however, optimistic that the future was bright for our young and emerging talents. “The future belongs to the likes of Victor Moses, Oghenekaro Etebo and the rest of them.

“Hopefully, in the next two or three years, Nigeria will win the African Player of the Year award; that’s what I am looking forward to,” he said. John Fashanu, an ex-international, said it was a good thing that Nigeria was hosting the Awards for the second consecutive time in Abuja.

“That’s indeed a wonderful accolade for us. Unfortunately, none of our players made it to the top three of the most prestigious African player of the year award.

“Victor Moses who would probably have made it couldn’t because we are not in the Africa Cup of Nations. “Also, we are not developing our youths as we were before. “We must, however, congratulate our ladies because when we talk about Nigerian football, people say we are not doing well, but we are.

“Our women have been fantastic and have indeed made us proud; the issue is with our men, we have to develop,” he said. Daniel Amokachi, another ex-international and former assistant coach of the Super Eagles said Glo must be given kudos for embracing the true embodiment of what CAF is and stands for.

“All the players that have been nominated in a couple of seasons have all shown and indeed proven to be stars and gladiators of the African continent. He said Nigeria would, in a matter of time, be among the contenders for the African player award, adding that there was no Nigerian player who did much last season.

“But in the 2016/17 season, we have Moses, Iwobi and Kelechi Iheanacho who are on fire this season and hopefully we will see them in the top three next year,” he said. Akintunde-Johnson Bada, a renowned sports analyst opined that until there was a re-orientation of the values of the average Nigerian player, there would be no significant change in the pattern of the awards.

“Nigerian footballers must break away from the mentality of being content with buying cars, building houses and so on, as the criteria success in their career. “As much as these things are good, those can’t be the reason why you play football.

“You’ve got to strive to be the best in the world and to win the best player in England, Spain, Europe and the world. “That has got to be the ambition of the Nigerian players. “I am hoping that the likes of Iwobi, Iheanacho and the rest of them who are coming through can change the narrative of Nigerian football.

“This prize used to be what Nigerians collect every year in the 90’s, the Amuneke’s, the Yekini’s, the Ikpeba’s won it concurrently. “But since then we haven’t seen Nigerians dominating this award because they settle too quickly and make questionable career moves going to China, Ukraine and the likes,” he said. He emphasised that Nigerian players must aspire to play for the best clubs in the world.

“In the 90’s when the likes of Taribo West played for AC Milan and later Inter Milan and Amuneke and Okunnowo played for Barcelona, we had players in the top clubs of the world. “However, with Iheanacho at Manchester City and Iwobi at Arsenal, I think those days might be returning, but we need more Nigerians wanting to be the best in the world and going for it,” Bada said.

Sen. Dino Melaye expressed satisfaction with the selection of the awardees, adding that it was a good and unbiased selection by the organisers of the event. “The result was most expected and if you went through most of the predictions prior to the announcement, I think you would agree with me that it was a popular opinion.

“The truth is, you can’t plant cassava and expect to harvest cocoa yam; we are very lackadaisical in our planning and nonchalant about the welfare of players. “These are just some of the factors militating against our success in the awards.

So, if we must succeed in the next four to five years, we have to begin to plan very well because he who fails to plan, plans to fail. “We must develop our football to become sustainable and grassroots football development must become our watchword.

“In other words, we must be strategic in the development of sports in the country,” Melaye said. He advised sports administrators in the country to go back to the drawing board and make sure football especially, was properly coordinated, planned and strategically implemented. Timipre Sylva, the former governor of Bayelsa for his part, said the result was reflective of the true current position of football in the African continent.

“For me, it shows the actual situation of the game in the continent and if Nigeria had won all the categories, it would have appeared rigged. “It’s very sad, to say the least, but I am sure we are going to make it to the World Cup and we are going to win it this time.

“If Leicester could surprise the world last year, I believe strongly that Nigeria can surprise the world in Russia 2018,” he said.

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