Super Eagles and Napoli FC’s sensation, Victor Osimhen, emerged the biggest winner of the 8th edition of the Nigeria Pitch Awards.
The Nigerian striker, who was confirmed Player of the Month for March in the Serie A, emerged the Striker of the Year and the King of the Pitch making him Nigeria’s Most Valuable Player for 2021.
Super Falcons and FC Barcelona Femení goal scorer, Asisat Oshoala continued her dominance of the women’s award category as she named the Queen of the Pitch for the fourth time.
The 8th Award Ceremony which started three hours after the World Cup Qualifier encounter between Nigeria and Ghana lasted until the early hours of the 30th March 2022. The gathering observed a minute’s silence in honour of those who lost their lives during the attack on the ill-fated Kaduna bound train on Monday 28.
Welcoming guests to the annual show, Shina Philips, President of the awards, encouraged Nigerians to put the disappointment of the inability of the country to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier in Qatar behind them and look forward to a better future with the Super Eagles.
‘Nigerians love football and always expect to win in every game, Philips said. Continuing, he noted, ‘the reality however is that every football match can end in a win, a draw or a loss. We will move on and become stronger in future. We have been champions before and will be champions again in future.’
Philips stated that organizers were not oblivious of the mood of the nation. ‘We understand that many Nigerians are disappointed but we wish to remind Nigerians that the nation has won many football matches and competitions and we ought to continue to encourage the players by rewarding them for their commitment, industry and display of talent in 2021’, Philips concluded.
The ceremony which was anchored by legendary Nollywood actor, Segun Arinze lived up the expectations of guests, players, nominees and voters. In the Goalkeeper of the year category, Maduka Emilio Okoye emerged winner while Super Eagles Captain, William Troost-Ekong beat fello compatriots, Olisa Ndah and Lean Balogun to win the Defender of the year award for the third time.
Wilfred Ndidi of Leicester City FC was named the Midfielder of the Year and Victor Osimhen starved off competition from Genk FC’s Paul Onuachu and Leicester City FC’s Kelechi Iheanacho to lift the Striker of the Year award.
In other categories, 2021 League winners, Akwa United and Coach Kennedy Boboye were voted the Team of the Year and Coach of the Year respectively.
Barr. Seyi Akinwunmi, NFF First Vice President emerged the winner of the Sam Okwaraji Award for commitment to Nigerian football. Continuing in her dominance, Lagos State again won the Award for the State with the Best Grassroots Football Development Programme as His Excellency, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Governor of the state was voted the Football Friendly Governor of the Year.
In the media category, Punch Newspapers’ Johnny Edwards and Brila 88.9 FM’s Tony Bekederemo emerged winners in the Football Journalist of the Year (Print) and Football Journalist of the Year (Radio) respectively. Cecilia Omorogbe of Channels TV and Shina Oludare of Goal.com charted home the Football Journalist of the Year awards in the TV and Online categories’ respectively.
Major highlights of the night was the presentation of the Sportsmanship Award to the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba for his tactical use of peace overtures in fighting crime across the nation. Receiving the award on his behalf, AIG Hafiz Inuwa, the Force Secretary of the Nigeria Police said the IGP would like to encourage Nigerians to shake-off the disappointment of the nation’s loss of a World Cup ticket and focus on what the future holds.
Another interesting highlight was the presentation of the Achievement in Sport Award to business mogul, Sir Kesington Adebukola Adebutu also popularly known as ‘Baba Ijebu’. He was honoured for his contributions to the development of grassroots football through his sponsorship of the annual Sir Kesington Adebukola Adebutu Competition for boys and girls. The competition has been going on for 11 years.
LIST OF WINNERS:
Goalkeeper of the Year
Maduka Emilio Okoye – Super Eagles & Sparta Rotterdam FC
Defender of the Year
William Troost-Ekong – Super Eagles & Watford FC
Midfielder of the Year
Wilfred Ndidi – Super Eagles & Leicester City FC
Team of the Year
Coach of the Year
Kennedy Boboye – Akwa United
Sam Okwaraji Award
Seyi Akinwunmi – First Vice President, NFF
State with the Best Grassroots Football Development Programme
Football Friendly Governor of the Year
His Excellency, Babajide Sanwo-Olu – Lagos State
Corporate Sponsor of Football Award
AITEO Group – Oil & Gas
Football Journalist of the Year Award – Print
Johnny Edwards – Punch Newspapers
Football Journalist of the Year Award – Radio
Tony Bekederemo – Sports Radio 88.9 Brila FM
Football Journalist of the Year Award – TV
Cecilia Omorogbe – Channels TV
Football Journalist of the Year Award – Online
Shina Oludare – Goal.com
Striker of the Year
Victor Osimhen – Super Eagles & Napoli FC
Queen of the Pitch
Asisat Oshoala – Super Eagles & FC Barcelona Femini
King of the Pitch
Victor Osimhen – Super Eagles & Napoli FC