Four Nigerian Players to Have Won the Africa Player of the Year as Osimhen Closes in on 2023 Award

Four Nigerian Players to Have Won the Africa Player of the Year as Osimhen Closes in on 2023 Award

Lukman Mumuni
updated at February 13, 2024 at 11:54 AM
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N. Kanu
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V. Osimhen
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  • Victor Osimhen has emerged favourite for the CAF Player of the Year award
  • The Napoli star could become the fifth Super Eagles player to win the award
  • The 2023 CAF Awards will be held in Morocco on Monday night

A new king of African football will be crowned today in Marrakech, Morocco as the Confederation of African Football prepares for the 2023 awards.

Nigeria and Napoli star Victor Osimhen will face competition from Liverpool's prolific scorer Mohamed Salah and Morocco's World Cup star Achraf Hakimi.

The Napoli forward has been tipped as the favourite to win the award following his exploits with the Italian outfit as well as the Super Eagles of Nigeria.

Nigeria, Nwankwo Kanu, Rashidi Yekini, Victor Ikpeba, Emmanuel Amunike
Kanu, Yekini, Amunike and Ikpeba playing for the Super Eagles of Nigeria. Credit: @NFF
Source: Twitter

Osimhen led the Naples club to a historic league title after 33 years of waiting while also becoming the first African player to win the Golden Boot in the Serie A, as reported by The Guardian.

Ahead of tonight's ceremony, Sports Brief looks at other Nigerian players to have won the CAF Player of the Year award.

Rashidi Yekini (1993)

The first Nigerian to ever win the African Player of the Year was the late Super Eagles striker Rahidi Yekini. Yekini beat Abedi Pele of Ghana to win the award in 1993 following a heroic campaign in Portugal with Vitoria de Setubal, where he led the club to promotion with 34 goals. He also starred for Nigeria at the international level, playing a pivotal role in their first-ever World Cup qualification.

Emmanuel Amunike (1994)

Yekini was dethroned the following year by compatriot and 1994 AFCON star Emmanuel Amuneke. The skilful and tricky winger claimed the award ahead of Liberia's George Weah and Super Eagles teammate Daniel Amokachi, as reported by OJB Sports. Amunike enjoyed an outstanding year in the Portuguese league with Sporting CP while also shining at the AFCON 94 and the World Cup in the USA.

Nwankwo Kanu (1996, 1999)

Arguably, the most successful Nigerian player. Nwankwo Kanu won the African Player of the Year award twice, first in 1996 and second in 1999. His first came after leading Nigeria's Olympic team to the gold medal at the Olympic Games in Atlanta. Kanu mesmerised Brazil in the semi-final, where he netted a brace as Nigeria defeated the South American giants. He also had a stellar campaign in Serie A with Inter Milan.

Despite his success in 1996, Kanu was diagnosed with a heart problem which slowed his career.

However, the lanky forward saw a renaissance in career after a move to England, where he joined Arsenal. His performances in 1999 saw him reclaim the Player of the Year award for a second time.

Victor Ikpeba (1997)

In between Kanu's successes was another Nigerian, Victor Ikpeba, who won the award in 1997. Affectionately known as the Prince of Monaco, the then AS Monaco star had an outstanding year with the French giants. Ikpeba netted 13 times to help Monaco win Ligue 1 and also finished second in the goal scorers chart for the 1997 UEFA Cup. He also featured prominently as the Super Eagles qualified for the 1998 World Cup.

Osimhen leads shortlist for CAF PoTY award

Earlier, Sports Brief reported that the final three-man shortlist for the African PoTY has been announced with Nigerian forward, Victor Osimhen, set to compete with Liverpool's Mohamed Salah and Achraf Hakimi for the top award.

With barely a week to go before the awards ceremony in Marrakech, Morocco, Osimhen has emerged as the favourite to win the gong.

His competitors Salah and Hakimi have not been close in terms of the recent achievements of the 24-year-old.

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Lukman Mumuni
Lukman Abdul Mumin is a Sports Journalist based in Accra, Ghana. He has been writing for the past five years. Lukman joined Sports Brief as an Editor for the Local Desk in 2022.