Ighalo, Musa, Okowa, Aiteo make Pitch Awards shortlist

Organizers of the prestigious Nigeria Pitch Awards have announced that Super Eagles trio of Ahmed Musa of Al-Nassr, Odion Ighalo of Shanghai Shenhua and Wilfred Ndidi of Leicester City FC has been shortlisted for the King of the Pitch Award for the 2018/19 edition of the awards.

This announcement was made at a well-attended media briefing in Ibis Hotel in Lagos by organizers of the awards to announce nominees for the 6th Award Ceremony scheduled to hold in May.

Speaking at the event, Shina Philips, President of the Nigeria Pitch Awards, expressed the gratitude of the organizers and award partners to all sport journalists, the Nigeria Football Federation and SIAO Partners for their support for the awards since 2013.

He said that organizers were working on a plan to overhaul the organization specifically with a view to reducing the number of categories.

He said, “We are planning a major reorganization with respect to the number of categories we have. By next edition, we will certainly have fewer categories. We believe this will make it easier for our voters to complete their votes.”

Head of Corporate Services, Nneka Eneli, who represented Ituah Ighodalo, the Managing Partner of SIAO Partners said the shortlist of potential winners was drawn from the votes cast by sport journalists across the country between February and March 2019.

 “Voting for the 6th edition of the awards took place between 1st February and 1st March 2019.  We assure all voters of the Nigeria Pitch Awards that their votes have been adequately captured and the results you will get today are the wishes of all who voted. Let me stress again that the entire process was professionally handled by our team of accountants and auditors without any form of interference from the organizers or sponsors,” Eneli said.

In the Goalkeeper of the Year category, Ikechukwu Ezenwa of Katsina United FC, Theophilus Afelokhai of Enyimba F.C and Francis Odinaka Uzoho of Deportivo La Coruna/Anorthosis Famagusta were shortlisted. Brighton and Hove Albion FC defender, Leon Balogun, William Troost-Ekong of Udinese FC and Kenneth Omeruo of Leganés FC will compete for the defender of the year award.

In the Striker of the Year category, former Kano Pillars striker, Junior Lokosa will sludge it out with Shanghai Shenhua striker Odion Ighalo        and the Super Eagles vice-captain and Al-Nassr striker, Ahmed Musa.

In the women category, multiple award winners, Asisat Oshoala      of Barcelona Ladies, Francisca Ordega of Shanghai shengli and Super Falcon new sensation, Rasheedat Ajibade Avaldsnes IL will vie for the Queen of the Pitch award.

Nominees for the other categories are: MVP in NPFL: Godwin Aguda          (Enugu Rangers), Junior Lokosa  (Kano Pillars) and Mfon Udoh     of Akwa United

MVP in the NWFL: Anam Imo    (Nasarawa Amazons), Evelyn Nwabuoku (Rivers Angels) and Rasheedat Ajibade (Avaldsnes IL)

Coach of the Year: Thomas Dennerby    (Super Falcons), Gbenga Ogunbote (Enugu Rangers) and Solomon Ogbeide (Lobi Stars)

Club of the Year: Akwa United, Enugu Rangers and Lobi Stars

National Team of the Year: Super Sand Eagles, Super Falcons and Super Eagles        

Referee of the Year: Ogabor Joseph Odey, Adebimpe Quadri and Ferdinand Udoh

Sam Okwaraji Awards: Kunle Soname (Chairman, Remo Stars/BE T9JA, Amaju Pinnick (President, NFF) and Seyi Akinwunmi (1st Vice President, NFF)

State with the Best Grassroots Football Development Programme: Delta, Rivers, Lagos States

Football Friendly Governor of the Year: HE Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom), HE Nyesom Wike (Rivers) and HE Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta)

Football Journalist of the Year (Print): Tunde Liadi     (The Nation), Johnny Edwards (Complete Sport) and Tana Aiyejina (Punch)

Football Journalist of the Year (Radio): George Iniabasi Essien (Comfort 95.1 FM),

Tony Bekederemo   (Sports Radio 88.9 Brila FM) and Olawale Adigun     (Top Radio 90.9FM)

Football Journalist of the Year (TV): Cecilia Omoregbe (Channels TV), Mozez Praiz (Supersport) and Austin 0kon-Akpan (Channels TV)

Football Journalist of the Year (Online): Tobi Adepoju (naijafootballplus.com), Kunle Solaja (sportsvillagesquare.com) and Samuel Ahmadu (Goal.com)

Corporate Sponsor of Football: Coca Cola, AITEO Group and Nigerian Breweries plc