Former captain of Nigeria’s Super Eagles, Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha and President General of Nigerian Football and Other Sports Supporters Club, Dr. Rafiu Ladipo, have expressed their sadness seeing no Nigerian senior player nominated or winning the African Footballer of the Year award during a gala held in Abuja Thursday night.
Gabonese Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was adjudged the best footballer on the continent after securing 146 votes from the exclusive voting process of the national teams coaches across Africa. He beat Ivorian Yaya Toure and Ghanaian Andre Ayew with 136 and 112 votes respectively.
Okocha and Ladipo, who were guests at the award nite, were so displeased that after Nwankwo Kanu won the award in 1999 when he was with Arsenal FC of England, it has been so hard for Nigeria to produce a player good enough to win the African football biggest honour.
“Let us call a spade a spade, this is so bad,” said the former Bolton Wanderer star. “I think it is high time Nigerian players raised their game for them to contest for this award. It is so bad none of our players are up there. I don’t think any of our players at this moment deserves to be there; because we’ve been struggling recently.
“This is a serious challenge to all of us. We must make sure that one of our players wins this award next time,” he said.
To Ladipo, the whole scenario shows that there is problem with Nigerian football.
He said: I’m not happy at all. That none of our players has won the award since Kanu is so sad. This shows that there is problem on ground.”
Meanwhile, former Nigerian international, Jonathan Akpoborie has advised that for any Nigerian player to win the CAF award, such player must live above board for his country and his club.
“It is your talent that will stand you out for the award. It also depends on the quality of the players, that is why I believe that if Odion Ighalo can sustain his present form and work very hard by scoring goals for both country and club, he is sure of making it in the next edition of the award. Thank God that people are watching him in the English Premier League (EPL),” he said.
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