NIGERIA’s biggest export to the European game this season is Wilfred Ndidi, who has shown that there are still good things here to celebrate, irrespective of the downturn of our domestic football in the last six years. Ndidi, a product of FIFA’s youth development programmes, having been discovered at the U-20 level, has made the shortlist of 20 players in the race to be the 2019/2020 Africa Footballer of the Year.
The parameters for picking the eventual winner do not favour Ndidi, since marks would be given based on a player’s contributions in his national team and his European club.
Europe-based players have dominated previous winners’ list, making it imperative for pundits to look towards top performers in Europe. This evident backing for Europe-based stars compelled the Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) to carve out an award for the home-based stars but this isn’t as glamorous as the senior category since fans ask questions about the winner unlike the one for the big boys.
Sadly, Ndidi won’t make the last three, where the eventual winner will emerge. Previous winners have been goal scorers. Indeed, Sadio Mane, Mohammed Salah and Mahrez are strong contenders for the Africa Footballer of the Year, with the Liverpool duo tipped to win the diadem, based on their contributions to Liverpool since last season.
The Reds did well last season by lifting the UEFA Champions league and are the holders of the UEFA Super Cup, a trophy meant to decide the best team in Europe last season. Liverpool beat Chelsea 5-4 on penalty kicks after 120 minutes.
Last season, Salah and Mane tied on 22 goals in the Barclays English Premier League top scorers’ chat along with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, though the Arsenal captain won’t be able to match the others because his country ,Gabon, is a football minnow. Kudos to Aubameyang for not dumping his fatherland to play for any of the European soccer powers.
Source The Nation