Super Eagles and Al-Nassr of Saudi Arabia forward, Ahmed Musa was named Nigeria’s Player of the Year 2018 at the 2nd AITEO/NFF Football Awards. The event was held Monday night at the Eko Hotel & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.
The Nigerian 2018 World Cup hero was voted ahead of Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi and Odion Ighalo of Shanghai Shenhua for the topmost award of the night.
Musa made it a double feat by also winning the Best Goal of the Year award with his World Cup hit against Iceland.
The glamorous ceremony held in the grandeur end of Lagos was well attended by eminent football personalities from across Nigeria, Africa and the world. A lot of diplomats based in Nigeria also turned up for the night.
Top Nigerian football heroes, basketballers and politicians across all levels of government were also present at the grand occasion.
The 1994 set of the Super Eagles were especially honoured with many of the players present. Former captains and incidentally former Eagles coaches Augustine Eguavoen and Sunday Oliseh made passionate speeches in the packed hall.
The highlight of the night, by miles, was the special recognition of the Super Eagles’ Class of 1994 – the squad widely nicknamed ‘Golden Generation’ after qualifying Nigeria for her first –ever FIFA World Cup finals, winning the Africa Cup of Nations on away soil for the first time and coming within 100 seconds of a quarter final place at the World Cup in the United States of America.
Physically present were goalkeepers Peter Rufai and Alloy Agu, defenders Austin Eguavoen, Uche Okechukwu, Benedict Iroha, Nduka Ugbade and Taribo West, midfielders Mutiu Adepoju, Austin ‘JJ’ Okocha, Sunday Oliseh and Edema Fuludu and forwards Finidi George, Samson Siasia and Daniel Amokachi. Omoyemi Yekini, daughter of the ‘goalsfather’ Rashidi Yekini, stood in for her late father as well as the four others who had passed on: team captain Stephen Keshi, goalkeeper Wilfred Agbonavbare, defender Uche Okafor and midfielder Thompson Oliha.
Emmanuel Amuneke, Michael Emenalo, Emeka Ezeugo, Efan Ekoku, Isaac Semitoje and Chidi Nwanu could not make it down to Nigeria for the ceremony. While a couple of the players present on Monday night did not make the final cut for the World Cup in America, six members of the group went ahead to join the Dream Team and return to America to conquer – by winning Africa’s men’s football gold at the Centennial Olympics in Atlanta two years later.
The first female Secretary General of FIFA, Fatma Samoura who represented the FIFA Executives at the Awards was also especially honoured.
Africa’s former biggest individual football financier Late MKO Abiola was also especially honoured with one of his sons picking up the award.
The list of award winners:
Male Player of The Year
WINNER – AHMED MUSA
Female Player of The Year
WINNER – ONOME EBI
Young Player of The Year- Female
WINNER – ANAM IMOH
Young Player of The Year – Male
WINNER – SAMUEL CHUKWUEZE
Best Coach of The Year – Female
WINNER – THOMAS DENNERBY
Best Coach of The Year – Male
WINNER – GBENGA OGUNBOTE
The goal of The Season
WINNER – AHMED MUSA
Fair Play Award
WINNER – AKWA UNITED
The team of The Season
WINNER – SUPER FALCONS
WINNER – CHANNELS TV
Lifetime Achievement Award
GOVERNOR AKINWUNMI AMBODE
NFF Presidential Award
LATE MKO ABIOLA
Order of Merit Award
FATMA SAMOURA (FIFA Secretary General)