“I worked hard last year but I am surprised to be nominated. I feel very appreciated and I give God the glory,”
That was the expression of a 20 year old who has been nominated by the BBC for the inaugural BBC Women’s Player of the Year award amongst heavyweights in her field……
……Our very own Asisat Oshoala.
I detailed a piece on why she is arguably one of the top female players of all time in Nigeria. Thanks to the BBC, they’ve assisted my cause for championing her inclusion. The top five nominees for this maiden Women’s Player of the Year award are some of the hottest on the scene right now; Five time FIFA Ballon D’or winner from Brazil- (the age defying) Marta, Current FIFA Ballon D’or Winner from Germany -Nadine Kessler, The Spanish female equivalent to Xavi and Iniesta in Veronica Boquete, Scottish Midfielder and last season’s US women’s National League MVP – Kim Little and of course Asisat Oshoala aka Super Zee. At least 3 of these including Oshoala will be at the Women’s World Cup in Canada.
With all these Superstars lined up, exactly how does Asisat stand a chance?
Here is Why..
In the real world, ”age is nothing but a number” going by the well known quote but in football, it is the currency with which football operates these days – just note how much a 25 year old defender will be transferred for in comparison to a 35 year old defender-. With this factor, Asisat tops the list. Kim Little of Scotland is aged 24, Marta of Brazil is 29 years of age, Boquete of Spain is a 28 year old midfielder while Nadine Kessler of Germany turned 27 this month. Asisat is 20 years and set the world alight last year at 19! 19 years of age is a remarkably young age to accomplish such feat in one calendar year; a testament to her incredulous quality. Therefore, youth should be rewarded.
2) An Unbelievable 2014:
Asisat made her debut for the national team in 2013 but it was 2014 that blazoned this tigress. The Liverpool Ladies star featured in the U20 Women’s World Cup in Canada and it wasn’t long before she began to stun. Scoring 4 goals in one single match; an exquisite semi final fixture, that set the stage for Asisat to score a total of seven goals and finish as the top goal scorer of the tournament. She was awarded the Golden Boot gong, a prestigious accolade that has been won by the likes of Christine Sinclair of Canada, Sydney Leroux of the USA and Alexandra Popp of Germany. She topped that by being the revelation of the tournament and carting away the Golden Ball, another exclusive club that consists of the trio named above and of course, the female Pele, the legend -Marta…..you remember her? Albeit a silver medallist, that was just the beginning of a jaw dropping season. Two months later, Asisat alongside Desire Oparanozie fired the Super Falcons to its seventh Africa Women’s Championship crown and the prolific forward won the Golden Ball award. She was just a goal shy of equalling the record with eventual Golden Boot winner, Desire Oparanozie who scored five goals to Asisat’s’ four. Back on home soil, Asisat helped Rivers Angels clinch the National Women’s League title as well as the Federation Cup. It didn’t just stop there. Oshoala dominated the headlines at end of the calendar year where she won the African Player of the Year award alongside Yaya Toure and Africa’s Youth Player of the year. She capped it off in 2015 with a well publicised move to Liverpool Ladies Football Club; the reigning FA Women’s Super League Champions which is equivalent to the English Premier League for Men.
Deserved Winner yet?
Let’s move on….
3) Success Scale for other nominees:
Teeing up with the previous point, 2014 was a monumental year for Oshoala but how did the other nominees fare?
– Nadine Kessler had dazzled the world in 2013 by leading Germany to glory at the European Championships, instrumental to Germany’s World Cup qualification and goal scorer at the 2013/2014 UEFA Women’s Champions league final for Wolfsburg (which they won). This led to a deserving Ballon D’or triumph. However, Kessler has been plagued with injuries since the tail end of 2014. A knee surgery slated for March 2015 ended her season with Wolfsburg and has effectively put her out of the Women’s World Cup in June (making it a back to back blow after missing the 2011 World Cup on home; Theo Walcott in disguise?).
– Kim Little who has been dubbed the ‘Little Magician’ ( and yes, she has a low Hazardesque centre of gravity) is a Scotland International and a former Hibernian and Arsenal player, who currently plays for Seattle Reign in the United States. She has made 28 appearances and has scored 16 goals for the club. In 2014, she was voted the National Women’s Soccer League’s Most Valuable Player and Top Scorer. She also led Scotland to a fourth place finish at the 2015 Algarve Cup (Women’s football premier invitational tournament) but her maestro was not enough to get Scotland to the mundial in Canada as they lost in the qualifying play offs thus putting her at a disadvantage.
– Veronica Boquete who plied her trade for clubs such as Espanyol, Tyreso FF and Portland Thorns, is a Spanish attacking midfielder. She lost the UEFA Women’s Champions league final to VFL Wolfsburg in the 2013/2014 season playing alongside Marta and Caroline Seger for Swedish club Tyreso. She joined US based club Portland Thorns soon after but moved to current club, FFC Frankfurt in Germany where she is on course to clinch her maiden UEFA Women’s Champions league medal (they face PSG in the finals May 14 2015 in Berlin) as well as a Bundesliga title for the 2014/2015 season. Vero stirred her team to their first European Championship appearance (EURO 2013) in 16 years where they reached the quarter finals. They have also made it to their maiden World Cup appearance after remaining unbeaten in the qualifying campaign. Nonetheless, Boquete who just seems to be peaking in her late 20s’ has a lot to prove come June 2015 as her Spanish team has just risen to World recognition.
– Marta Vieira da Silva or simply Marta is a Brazilian soccer star and one of the faces of Women’s football worldwide, in the last decade. This World Cup runner up is the first and only player (male and female category combined) to have won the FIFA Ballon D’or award five times; one she did consecutively between 2006-2010. The 29 year old who played for the Western New York Flash and a Champions league runner up with Tyreso FF (2013/2014 season) currently plays for Rosengard of Sweden and has scored four goals in seven appearances. It is apparent that Marta is on this list based on past achievements both for club(s) and country:
Six Swedish league titles, two WPS Championships, 2014 Champions League runner-up, 2007 World Cup runner-up, 2004 and 2008 Olympic silver medallist and the Individual honours add to that. Marta is an A-List football star and is virtually on every Women’s Football Merit list due to the fact that she is still active. But in all honesty, she hasn’t done much in 2014-2015 (except lead Brazil to their 7th World Cup appearance) to give much worry albeit the fact that she is a worldwide sensation and this award will be decided by public votes, makes her one of the favourites. Realistically, she’s won way too many awards coupled with her perennial ‘runner up’ status when it comes to world titles and this puts her right back at a disadvantage.
4) History in the Making: No African has made the final shortlist for the Women’s Player of the Year award by any prestigious organization. With America, Europe and South America making all the splash on the world scene, this is an immense opportunity for history to be re written and to get our imprints as Africans, on the higher echelons of the sport. Everyone loves an underdog, an upset, a fairytale ending…so look no further than Oshoala.
5) Africa United: Africa is home to some of the most populous nations in the world and nothing unites Africa more than football. Due to our relatively small status in world football, it a common phenomenon that African nations root for African teams whenever there is an international competition (Europe and South America have the luxury of individualism/sentimentalism due to their higher status in the Sport). Just as most Africans vote en mass for their favorite male player when shortlisted for the annual BBC Africa Footballer of the Year, this is an opportunity to get one of us -our very own pride- to the heights of a success that interestingly, is just the dawn.
Asisat’s dream lies in our hands. Written in the Stars or Not…..Let’s Get her there.
Impossible is Nothing!!
Fans can vote online through the BBC website or by SMS.
To vote for Asisat online, go to www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/womens/wfoty-vote/2015
To vote for the BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year 2015 by SMS, text the number 5 for Asisat Oshoala to +44 7786 20 20 04.
The winner will be announced on the 26th of May via the BBC World Service.
Article by Janine Anthony