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 as Nigerian footballers picked 4 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.
Speaking to NAN some sports stake holders had different views:
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,”
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.