Facts have emerged regarding how Nigeria’s senior national team coaches and captains, as well as a representative of the Nigerian media, did not vote for compatriots Victor Osimhen and Asisat Oshoala at the FIFA Best Football Awards, despite their outstanding performances in 2022.
Alexia Putellas, Oshoala’s Barca Feminin teammate, and Lionel Messi were named the best players of the year at the Best FIFA Football Awards 2022 ceremony in Paris on Monday.
The award is decided by votes cast by national team captains and coaches, journalists, and fans. Following the ceremony, FIFA revealed how each captain and coach voted, with Super Eagles captain Ahmed Musa voting against Osimhen and his Super Falcons counterpart Onome Ebi voting against Oshoala.
Osimhen was outstanding for both club and country in the year under review (2022), but he did not receive a vote from his captain or coach, as other nominees did.
He scored 20 goals for Napoli in 2022 and also won the ‘Emerging Player of The Year’ at the Globe Soccer Awards, beating Barcelona and Real Madrid’s midfielders Gavi and Federico Valverde to the honour.
Oshoala, for her part, received the Pichichi award, which is given to the top scorer in the Spanish league.
The five-time African Women’s Player of The Year scored 20 goals in 19 games for Barcelona Femeni in 2022 to finish joint-top scorer in the Spanish topflight despite missing two months through injury and helping them to the domestic treble: LaLiga, Copa de la Reina and the Spanish Super Cup.
Both stars were not nominated by Eagles coach Jose Peseiro, Falcons coach Randy Waldrum, Musa, Ebi, or journalist Ibikunle Solaja despite their outstanding statistics.
In his capacity as Nigeria coach, Peseiro chose Karim Benzema as his best player, with Lionel Messi and Kevin De Bruyne coming in second and third.
Deschamps’ first choice was Kylian Mbappe, who was followed by Benzema and Messi.
Egypt’s coach, Rui Vitoria, also chose Mohamed Salah as his preferred candidate for the award, with Messi and Mbappe finishing second and third.
Both Brazil and Argentina’s coaches, Adenor Bachi and Lionel Scaloni, chose their players (Neymar and Messi) for the top prize.
Musa also followed his coach’s lead, ignoring Osimhen in his selection of Messi, Benzema, and Mbappe, in that order, to win the award, unlike his Moroccan (Romain Saiss) and French counterparts (Hugo Lloris).
Saiss chose his national teammate Achraf Hakimi to win the award, with Benzema and Mbappe rounding out his vote, while Lloris chose his fellow Frenchman Mbappe to win the award, with Benzema and Messi rounding out his vote.
Messi was also chosen as the winner by Solaja, who represented the Nigerian media, with Mbappe and Benzema coming in second and third place.
Falcons coach Waldrum, captain Ebi, and Solaja did not vote for Oshoala in the women’s category.
Ebi chose Oshoala’s Barcelona teammate Putellas as her first choice, followed by Aitana Bonmat and Wendie Renard.
Waldrum chose Beth Mead to win the award, with Sam Kerr and Putellas finishing second and third, respectively.
Alex Morgan, Alexandra Popp, and Leah Williamson were chosen by Solaja as a trio.
Speaking on their selections, Atlanta 1996 gold medalist Joseph Dosu believes voters have the right to vote their preferences, but added that Osimhen and Oshoala deserved at least a mention in their voting.
“It’s their choice,” Dosu said. “But I think both players should have been given a mention considering their performances last year, especially when we had four personalities from our national teams to each nominate three players. Given their performance, they should have earned a spot.
“We saw what other coaches and captains did for the same award, but it’s their decision.”
“The players (Osimhen and Oshoala) deserve to be voted for,” former Falcons star Maureen Mmadu added. Overlooking them does not imply that they are not worthy of inclusion on the list.”
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