Osimhen Praises Amunike, Eyes AFCON Title As Akide, Nkwocha Celebrate Oshoala

Osimhen Praises Amunike, Eyes AFCON Title As Akide, Nkwocha Celebrate Oshoala

‘African team can win World Cup soon’

Africa’s Footballer of the Year awardee, Victor Osimhen, in his greatest moment has not failed to recognise his days of little beginnings.

Still revelling in his recognition by Africa’s football royalty as the continent’s number one player of the game, Osimhen has singled out his former U-17 national team coach, Emmanuel Amunike, as the man who set him forth for his accomplishments in the game.

Amunike, also an African Footballer of the Year winner in his time, was Osimhen’s coach to the FIFA U-17 World Cup triumph, which exposed his talents to the world.

Speaking after receiving his award at Palais des Congrès, Marrakech, the 24-year-old Osimhen thanked his teammates and everyone that has supported his journey from the beginning.

He said: “This feels good. It has been 24 years since a Nigerian – Nwankwo Kanu – won this award. It is a very good feeling to have put Nigeria back on the map. I appreciate God for this.”

Then pointing to Amunike, he said: “He believed in me right from the start and was at the heart of our 2015 FIFA U17 World Cup victory in Chile. He gave me the opportunity to really showcase myself and when things were not going well with me, he was the brain behind the motivation and it is absolutely right for me to acknowledge him at the biggest stage because behind closed doors, he has helped me a lot. He is present here and here to witness what he has produced.”

Osimhen also acknowledged the achievements of his compatriots, Asisat Oshoala and Chiamaka Nnadozie, saying: “It is a big night for us as Nigerians. Oshoala, Chiamaka and the Super Falcons. It shows what we can do and that we are back on track.”

At the ceremony, Oshoala won a record sixth Africa Women’s Player of the Year Award, while Nnadozie walked away with the inaugural Goalkeeper of the Year (Women).

Osimhen revealed that this prestigious award is a motivation for him and his teammates ahead of the AFCON 2023 in Côte d’Ivoire.

The Super Eagles are in Group A with the hosts, Equatorial Guinea and Guinea Bissau.

“We are ready and preparing very well. The squad is in high spirits. We are ready to go and hope that we shall do well there.”
Nigeria have won the AFCON three times in 1980, 1994 and 2013.

Osimhen will be hoping to replicate his fine form next year that has seen him score 27 goals in all competitions for Napoli this year – the joint-most by an African player in the big five European leagues tied with Egyptian Mohamed Salah.

Also speaking on the awards, African Women’s football queen, Oshoala, said the talents in the continent point to the fact that an African country would soon win the FIFA World Cup.

According to Oshoala, the feat is achievable if the teams work together and support one another.

“It happened in the last World Cup, the men’s World Cup, we shocked the world, and at the last World Cup in Australia, all the national teams that represented Africa, made history and I believe before the next World Cup, we can get better, and I believe we can do better, and we can win it for sure.
“At the end of the day, if we don’t support ourselves, nobody will come down to Africa, nobody will come to this continent to support. We have to work together as a team because football is a team sport, let us start at home and go to the world and conquer it,” she said.

Nigeria has now won an impressive 13 Africa Women’s Player of the Year Awards – a record on the continent after Oshoala added a record sixth to her cabinet.

Meanwhile, former Super Falcons’ forwards, Mercy Akide and Perpetual Nkwocha, have congratulated Oshoala for winning an unprecedented sixth African Footballer of the Year awards.

The Super Falcons forward, who enjoyed fine form at country and club levels this year, guided Nigeria to the round of 16 at the FIFA Women’s World Cup thanks to her eventual winner against hosts Australia in the group stages.

“Today is Nigeria’s night. This is the first time ever that two Nigerians have been awarded as African Player of the Year in the women and men’s categories. It is massive. I am so happy for Oshoala and Osimhen,” an excited Mercy Akide, winner of the inaugural edition in 2001, told cafonline.com.
“Asisat has been exceptional all year round at both country and club level for Barcelona and to see CAF awarding her means so much to us as a country. Nigeria – we are winners. So, this is a big day for us,” Akide said.

Four-time winner, Perpetua Nkwocha (2004, 2005, 2010 and 2011), said, “Asisat has always been exceptional and for her to win tonight means a lot to her and us as a country. This will motivate her to continue working hard.”

Nkwocha and Akide, who are considered pioneers in the growth of Women’s Football in Nigeria and on the continent, said this would further promote the growth of the game back home and across the continent.

Akide won the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations with Nigeria in 1998, 2000 and 2002, while Nkwocha won the continent’s biggest tournament with Akide in 2002 before inspiring the Super Falcons upfront as well in 2004, 2006, 2010 and 2014.

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