In an evening that turned into a glorious showcase of Nigerian football prowess, the 2023 Confederation of African Football (Caf) awards in Marrakesh were a testament to Nigeria’s rising dominance in the sport. Victor Osimhen’s crowning as the African Footballer of the Year marked a significant milestone, ending a long wait since Nwankwo Kanu’s triumph in 1999. This accolade not only celebrates Osimhen’s exceptional talent and dedication but also symbolizes the emergence of a new era in Nigerian football. His remarkable journey, characterized by a sensational scoring record and vital contributions to both his club Napoli and the national team, has placed him in the annals of African football legends.
The night further solidified Nigeria’s status as a powerhouse in both men’s and women’s football, with Asisat Oshoala retaining her title as the Women’s Player of the Year. Oshoala’s sixth win of this prestigious award underlines her consistent excellence and her pivotal role in elevating women’s football on the continent. Her achievements, alongside Osimhen’s, reflect a broader narrative of Nigerian football’s resurgence, highlighting the depth of talent and the potential that the nation holds in shaping the future of the sport in Africa. The dual success at the Caf awards is a clear indication that Nigerian football is not just thriving but also inspiring a new generation of athletes.
Osimhen’s journey to this accolade was nothing short of remarkable. The 24-year-old striker’s season was punctuated with numerous high points:
|26 goals in 32 appearances
|Scored the goal securing Napoli’s Scudetto
|Italian Footballers’ Association Player of the Year
|Scored 5 goals in 4 AFCON qualification matches
|First Nigerian in top 10 of Ballon d’Or vote
“We made history. Any time you’re on the right side of history, you take it, so …” – Victor Osimhen
Asisat Oshoala: Continuing Her Reign
On the women’s side, Asisat Oshoala retained her title as the Women’s Player of the Year. The Barcelona star’s win at the awards night was a testament to her unflagging excellence in the sport, marking her sixth time receiving this honor.
Her year was filled with remarkable achievements that led her to this moment of glory:
|World Cup Participation
|Competed in the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand
|Retained the trophy from the previous year
|Notable Competitors Overcome
|Outshined Thembi Kgatlana and Barbra Banda
Recognizing Excellence in Coaching
Recognizing Excellence in Coaching at the Caf awards underscored the pivotal role of mentorship and strategic guidance in shaping successful football teams. Walid Regragui’s accolade as the Men’s Coach of the Year for Morocco celebrated his exceptional leadership, which played a crucial role in Morocco’s outstanding performances, particularly their historic run in Qatar 2022. On the women’s side, Desiree Ellis’ fourth Coach of the Year award for her work with South Africa’s Banyana Banyana highlighted her remarkable ability to foster talent and resilience, leading the team to their first-ever World Cup appearance.
Coaching Excellence: Men and Women
|Coach of the Year (Men)
|Walid Regragui (Morocco)
|Coach of the Year (Women)
|Desiree Ellis (South Africa)
Desiree Ellis, the South African coach, notably led Banyana Banyana to their first World Cup, earning her the Coach of the Year award for the fourth time.
National and Club Achievements
The ceremony also highlighted the success of teams at both the national and club levels:
|National Team of the Year (Men)
|National Team of the Year (Women)
|Women’s Club of the Year
|Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa)
|Men’s Club of the Year
|Al Ahly (Egypt)
Morocco’s men’s team, after their historic performance in Qatar 2022, took home the National Men’s Team of the Year award. Meanwhile, Nigeria’s Super Falcons were named the Women’s National Team of the Year.
Individual Excellence in Goalkeeping
The awards also honored individual brilliance in goalkeeping:
|Goalkeeper of the Year (Men)
|Yassine Bounou (Al Hilal & Morocco)
|Goalkeeper of the Year (Women)
|Chiamaka Nnadozie (Paris FC & Nigeria)
Young Players and Interclub Recognition
The future of African football was also celebrated, with awards given to outstanding young players and recognition for interclub achievements:
|Young Player of the Year (Women)
|Nesryne El Chad (Lille & Morocco)
|Young Player of the Year (Men)
|Lamine Camara (Metz & Senegal)
|Interclub Player of the Year (Women)
|Fatima Tagnaout (AS FAR & Morocco)
|Interclub Player of the Year (Men)
|Percy Tau (Al Ahly & South Africa)
A Night to Remember
The 2023 Caf awards ceremony was not just a celebration of individual achievements, but a testament to the growing prowess and influence of African football on the global stage. With players like Osimhen and Oshoala at the forefront, the future of African football looks brighter than ever.