The Confederation of African Football (CAF) Award Ceremony for 2019 has come and gone amidst the pomp and pageantry that heralded the announcement of the winners at the event held at the prestigious Albatros Citadel Sahl Hasheesh Resort in Hurghada, Egypt on Tuesday.
It is no more news that the European champions, Liverpool’s and Senegalese Muslim forward, Sadio Mane is the new African Footballer of the Year going by his performance for club and country.
He unarguably won with popular votes having polled a total of 477 votes ahead of his Liverpool teammate Mohamed Salah, who polled 325 votes and Algeria’s Riyad Mahrez with 267 votes.
In the women category, Nigeria’s Super Falcons’ rave of the moment and a proud Muslimah, Asisat Oshoala was crowned the new queen of African football for a fourth time having garnered 351 votes, 30 more than Cameroonian forward, Ajara Nchout while third placed Thembi Kgatlana had 247 votes.
The FC Barcelona Femeni of Spain striker, Oshola is now listed among the only African legendary footballers, like Samuel Eto fils, Yaya Toure, and her compatriot, former Super Falcons’ player, Perpetua Nkwocha who have won the African Footballer of the Year Award four times.
Asisat won it in 2014, 2016, 2017 and now, in the 2019 edition of the prestigious award.
Muslim News Sports gathered that in the selection of CAF award winners for the Men’s and Women’s Player of the Year, voting is done by CAF panels which are Technical & Development Committee members, legends, media experts, head coaches/Technical Directors of CAF member Associations and captains of CAF Member Associations.
However, back home in Nigeria, unending criticisms and backlash has continued to trend on the social media space about the voting pattern of Nigerians chosen among the voters who all did not vote Oshoala as their first choice in the voting process.
The three Nigerian media personalities who voted were: Osasu Obayiuwana, whose vote choices showed that he placed Oshoala third in his choice of five. His first choice was Malawian footballer, Tabitha Chawinga.
Chisom Mbonu Ezeoke, a Sports Presenter on Supersport also voted Malawi’s Chawinga as first, with Oshoala as second, while Tunde Adelakun voted Ivory Coast’s Ange N’Guessan in the first position and Oshoala as 2nd. Former Super Falcons’ captain, Perpetua Nkwocha ranked her 5th while NFF Technical Committee member, Ahmed Fresh failed to vote.
Fortunately for Oshoala, what her Nigerian ‘compatroits’ did not see in her 2019 performance, to have deserved their votes, other African men and women cast their votes for her to clinch her 4th title at 25.
Football pundits have roundly criticised the Nigerian contingent since the information became public saying that no matter the hatred they all held against the Nigerian representative, they should have all voted for her since she is representing the country’s green-white-green flag.
Some of their colleagues including the media have joined the bashing accusing them of lacking in patriotism towards their compatriot, Oshola.
Some opined that it was sheer jealousy from the 41-year old former Falcons’ star, Nkwocha, who didn’t want Oshoala equalling her record wins of the CAF Award since she quit the national team 7 years ago.
“From what Perpetua did, it is obvious that something is wrong with us as Nigerians.5th in Africa, how? Nigerians are the greatest adversary of Nigeria and Nigerians,” a social media user, Olanrewaju said.
For Momoh Ibrahim, “Corruption, abuse of office/power, bad mouthing (bad press), etc – All hese are what a lot of Nigerians do to Nigeria and Nigerians. If the records were not made public, no one would believe these voting patterns. Imagine Oshoala won not because of but in spite of her compatriots loyalties. Even the person (Perpetua) who voted against her still came out on social media to applaud her. Ah! Nigerians.”
Abdul-Mumeen said it is not only about what he termed the ‘politrick of football’, but hatred that Asisat is a Muslim.
“This isn’t only about football ‘politrick’ but hatred against Islam since she knows that Asisat is a Muslim who most time will do sujud after scoring. Many of these non-Muslims hate it but only pretend to love us. Allah shamed them and disappointed Perpetua’s life.”
But, another user, Taofeeq, said, Let us be careful not to fall into the same dirty games that other journalists are playing by adding religion to things that happen. Had Asisat, not been a Muslim, the same thing would have happened. What made Ahmed not to vote? It wasn’t about her religion, it was all about what is wrong with us as a nation.”
Muslim News Sports further revealed that the argument and debates has continued to drag on on social media in the country even after CAF had moved on and the different awardees have all settled down for business at their respective football clubs.
By Yusuf Akinlotan