The most eagerly awaited 2023 African Footballer of the year will be unveiled today, December 11 in Marrakech, Morocco, with Nigerian super star striker Victor Osimhen competing against Egyptian Mohamed Salah and Moroccan Achraf Hakimi for the crown.
Each of the three final nominees for the crown has showcased exceptional talent and contribution to their respective teams, making the choice all the more intriguing.
Nigerian forward Osimhen’s league-leading 26 goals for Napoli last season lifted the club to its first Serie A title in 33 years.
The Napoli striker, who was ranked 8th best player in the 2023 Ballon d’Or award, is heavily tipped to win the crown and would become the first Nigerian to do so after Nwankwo Kanu victory in 1999.
Liverpool forward Salah will aim for a hat trick of African Player of the Year awards after won back-to-back African honours for 2017 and 2018 before his then-Liverpool teammate Mane won the next two editions awarded for 2019 and 2022. Salah was runner-up last year.
Paris Saint-Germain right-back Hakimi was a standout in the Morocco team that reached the 2022 World Cup semifinals and has also excelled in his defensive role, demonstrating his adaptability and consistency for French club.
Morocco’s player last won the award in 1998, when Mustapha Hadji beat Austin Okocha to be crowned best player on the continent.
In the women’s Player of the Year category, Asisat Oshoala will battle South Africa’s Thembi Kgatlana and Barbara Banda of Zambia for the crown.
Oshoala won her fifth African Women’s player of the Year award in 2022 and then helped her club Barcelona, win the Women’s Champions League before going to the Women’s World Cup with Nigeria.
Kgatlana, who plays for Racing Louisville in the United States, was a South Africa standout at the World Cup and Banda captained Zambia at the tournament played in Australia and New Zealand.
Deborah Abiodun is in the final three for the Young Player of the Year for women and Chiamaka Nnadozie will contest for the best goalkeeper award also for women.
The CAF Awards are a special opportunity to recognize and reward outstanding performances by African players, coaches, teams and clubs over a given period. This year awards according to organisers, the period under consideration runs from November 2022 to September 2023 for the men’s categories and from December 2022 to November 2023 for the women’s categories.