Nigerian football players and the Super Falcons were decorated as the 25th edition of the African Football Awards held at the International Conference Centre, Abuja on Thursday night.
Sponsored by telecommunications giant, Globacom, the Awards again attracted a bevy of political leaders, top football administrators, business barons, philathropists, top football players and class artistes.
Expectedly, Nigeria’s Super Falcons, who won their eighth continental title in Cameroon last month, took the gong for the Women’s National Team of the Year, ahead of Cameroon and South Africa.
Super Eagles and Manchester City of England ace forward Kelechi Iheanacho, who scored in each of the Super Eagles’ matches against Mali, Luxembourg, Tanzania and Zambia in 2016, was named Most Promising Talent, while Eagles’ team –mate and Arsenal of England’s Alex Iwobi was named Youth Player of the Year.
The 20 –year old Iwobi scored Nigeria’s first goal in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier away to Zambia in Ndola in October 2016.
Falcons’ forward Asisat Oshoala, who also won the Woman Player of the Year award in 2014, was elected at the expense of Ghana’s Elizabeth Addo and Cameroon’s Gabrielle Onguene.Oshoala of Arsenal Ladies FC of England emerged top scorer at the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon with six goals.
Falcons’ head coach Florence Omagbemi narrowly lost the Coach of the Year gong to South African Pitso Mosimane, whose club, Mamelodi Sundowns was named Club of the Year.
Uganda’s Cranes, making their return to the Africa Cup of Nations after 38 years, were named National Team of the Year, and Gambian official Bakary Papa Gassama was handed the Referee of the Year award.
Mamelodi Sundowns and Cranes’ goalkeeper Denis Onyango won Africa –based Player of the Year, while Ivorian legend Laurent Pokou, who died last year, was posthumously awarded African Legend, and President of Guinea Bissau FA was handed Football Leader of the Year.
President Muhammadu Buhari was presented the CAF Platinum Award, received by Sports Minister, Barr. Solomon Dalung.
The big one, Africa Player of the Year, was scooped by Algerian forward Riyad Mahrez, who pipped holder Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang and Sadio Mane to the honour.