Facts have emerged on how coaches and captains of Nigeria’s senior national teams and a representative of the Nigerian media didn’t vote for compatriots Victor Osimhen and Asisat Oshoala at the FIFA Best Football Awards despite their fine performances in 2022, The PUNCH reports.
The Best FIFA Football Awards 2022 ceremony held in Paris on Monday saw Alexia Putellas, Oshoala’s Barca Feminin teammate, and Lionel Messi crowned as the outstanding players of the past year.
The award is determined by votes from national team captains and coaches, journalists and fans. Following the ceremony, FIFA published how each captain and coach voted, with Super Eagles captain Ahmed Musa not voting for Osimhen and his Super Falcons counterpart Onome Ebi overlooking Oshoala in her voting.
Osimhen was outstanding for both club and country in the year under review (2022) but failed get any vote for his blistering form, like other nominees got from their respective captains and coaches.
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, on her part, won the Pichichi award, the prize for 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.
These remarkable statistics didn’t earn both stars a nomination from quintet Jose Peseiro (Eagles coach), Randy Waldrum (Falcons coach), Musa, Ebi and journalist Ibikunle Solaja.
In his voting capacity as Nigeria coach, Peseiro opted for Karim Benzema as his best player, while he had Lionel Messi and Kevin De Bruyne in second and third places respectively.Deschamps chose Kylian Mbappe as his first choice, while Benzema and Messi followed suit.
Coach Egypt, Rui Vitoria also went for Mohamed Salah as his preferred choice for the award, while Messi and Mbappe were nominated as second and third.
Both coaches of Brazil and Argentina Adenor Bachi and Lionel Scaloni also selected their players (Neymar and Messi) for the top prize.
Musa also followed his coach’s part, ignoring Osimhen in his selection as he picked Messi, Benzema and Mbappe, in that order, to win the award, unlike his counterparts from Morocco (Romain Saiss) and France (Hugo Lloris).
Saiss voted for his national teammate Achraf Hakimi to win the award, while Benzema and Mbappe completed his voting, just as Lloris opted for his fellow Frenchman Mbappe to win the award with Benzema and Messi completing his selection.
Solaja, who represented the Nigerian media, also voted Messi as his winner with Mbappe and Benzema as his second and third picks.
In the women’s category, Falcons coach Waldrum, captain Ebi and Solaja did not cast a vote for Oshoala.
Ebi opted for Oshoala’s Barcelona teammate Putellas as her first pick, while Aitana Bonmatí and Wendie Renard completed her voting.
Waldrum voted for Beth Mead to win the award with Sam Kerr and Putellas coming in second and third places.
Solaja chose trio Alex Morgan, Alexandra Popp and Leah Williamson.
Speaking with The PUNCH on their choices, Atlanta 1996 gold medallist, Joseph Dosu, believes the voters hold the right to vote their choices, but added that Osimhen and Oshoala deserved a mention in their voting, at least.
“It’s their choices,” 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. They should have earned a spot, considering what they have done.
“We saw what other coaches and captains did at the same award, but again, it’s their choices.”Former Falcons star Maureen Mmadu added, “The players (Osimhen and Oshoala) deserve to be voted for, but that’s their coach and captain’s choices. Overlooking them does not mean that they are not good enough for a place on the list.”