By Ade Ojeikere
I deliberately refused to comment on what transpired at the awards ceremony in Egypt last week where Nigeria international and captain of the country’s female senior side, Asisat Oshoala, was voted Africa’s best player in the women’s category. Oshoala’s eventual choice as the Africa Women Footballer of the Year, for a record fourth time, was devoid of votes from her countrymen and women designated to vote for the shortlisted players, teams and countries across all categories.
For this writer, Oshoala’s choice without Nigeria’s input underscored qualities that have seen the former Arsenal star change clubs in recent times in Europe. Not many foreigners can match Oshoala’s seeming nomadic movement occasioned by her performance. Oshoala joined Liverpool, got recruited to play for Arsenal and was transferred to Dalian Quanjian F.C, only for Barcelona to offer her better terms, which she couldn’t resist. Need I remind readers that only last week, she scored four goals in a game which Barca’s female side won by 6-0?
Since the voting pattern was made public, the brickbats against the voters was expected and their reasons for not making her first choice in their scorecards are understandable. What I don’t like is the crossfire between Oshoala and one of the voters. If I was in Oshoala’s shoes, I will strive to win the diadem for the fifth time and for as many more times as God will allow me remain in the game.
Oshoala shouldn’t be engaged in such cheap talk as joining issues with the Nigerians who didn’t vote for her, since they did so professionally, like they have told us. My only question to the voters is how were they chosen to vote for the country? Was it on merit, based on their credentials as former footballers, or what? If they are sincere with themselves, they should have known that they were handpicked at the behest of an individual’s perception of what they represent, not that there was a selection exercise open to Nigerians.
I was not shocked at the diabolical decisions, given the way they were chosen to represent us at the voting exercise. I hope those who professionally didn’t vote for Oshoala as the best female player in Africa for 2019 won’t in the future ask us to vote for them, their friends, relations or their interests? We are waiting.
What happened to Oshoala isn’t new in CAF’s affairs. Till date, no Nigerian who has held any office at CAF, or even FIFA, got government’s or NFF’s backing; they got the positions through their own personal connections. Could this then be the reason why they have always represented their own selfish interests and not the good of the game in Nigeria? So the cheap talk of voting according to their consciences is bunkum. Are they saying they have not been following Oshoala’s career? Did they not know that at some point last year Oshoala was nursing an injury which affected her game for the country? Oshoala’s move from Arsenal to Barcelona was based on what, if I may ask these professional voters?
How about this joke on one of the voters who placed Oshoala in fifth position thinking it had the highest points. One wonders why this voter didn’t look at the points allotted to positions 1, 2, 3, and 4. If she did, she would’ve seen the descending order in which the points were allotted. Possibly, this voter needs eye glasses to see properly.
Nigeria’s representatives to CAF inter-club matches wobbled at home, with Enyimba’s 4-1 victory against Paradou AC of Algeria in Aba last weekend being the talking points, though the threats from the People’s Elephants’ supporters were seemingly cheap. The fans wanted the club’s chairman Felix Anyansi-Agwu to quit, insisting that they needed a new dawn in the team’s management.
Ade Ojeikere is an award-winning Sports Editor
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