BY KUNLE SOLAJA.
The CAF Awards 2018 is over. Nigeria’s only mark at the colourful ceremony in Dakar Senegal was the winning of the national women’s team of the year award. In the other more elevating awards, Nigeria and Nigerians were confined to the status of anonymity.
The most prestigious of the awards is that of the Africa Footballer of the Year which was expectedly won by the rave of the moment, Mohamed Salah of Egypt and Liverpool.
In the first shortlist of 34 players, there were three Nigerians – Ahmed Musa, Odion Ighalo and Alex Iwobi.
First to be eliminated was Musa who could not make it to the next stage on December 14, 2018 when the list was pruned to 10. At that stage, it was the 18-man Technical and Development Committee of CAF that decided.
Among them is Nigeria’s Ahmed Yusuf who did not vote. His not voting could not be because there were Nigerian candidates as other members of the committee also have their nationals short listed.
The only vote that Ahmed Musa got was from Alshelmani Abdulhakimamg of Libya. He gave Musa full mark of five. That was the only mark that Musa got.
While Musa had five points, Egypt’s Mohamed Salah had 54. Sadio Mane was a distant second with 31 while Aubameyang was third with 18.
Nigeria’s Odion Igalo had no vote at all from the members of the Technical and Development Committee.
He was not alone in that category. Eight other players also scored blank.
Iwobi got into the second stage of the poll having obtained nine points to rank fifth among the initial 34. His votes were from Hazem Imam of Egypt who gave him three points while the duo of Malouche Belhassan of Tunisia and Fran Smith of South Africa each awarded him two points.
Iwobi got a point each from the duo of Uganda’s Watson Suubi Edgar and Korichi Taoufique of Algeria.
In the next stage involving the top 10 among the original 34, the coaches as well as the Technical Directors and captains of national teams voted.
Both Gernot Rohr and Mikel Obi each gave Alex Iwobi maximum five points. That helped in giving Iwobi a total of 68 points. But that was far below the 351 obtained by Mohamed Salah and 293 of Sadio Mane.
The last stage involved votes from the designated media men, legends and coaches of CAF inter clubs competitions.
Among the chosen 16 media men, only two voted for Iwobi. They are Ayotunde Adelakun, a member of Gernot Rohr’s backroom staff and Mondher Chaouachi, the head of press and communication of Esperance of Tunisia.
While Adelakun expectedly gave Iwobi his maximum point of five, Chaouachi ranked the Nigerian second and gave him four points to put his total at nine.
At that stage, Salah was already coasting home with 70 points, also profiting from Chaouachi’s five and Adelakun’s three.
Among the 10 legends that voted, there were three Nigerians – Daniel Amokachi, Mercy Akide and Perpetua Nkwocha. Daniel Amokachi did not vote for Alex Iwobi. His votes were for Mohamed Salah –five; Aubameyang – four and Sadio Mane – three.
Mercy Akide voted Iwobi as third, given him three marks while offering Salah the maximum five and Mane had four.
Perpetua Nkwocha voted similarly. She gave Iwobi three points, Salah had five, and Mane got four from her.
Iwobi got 12 points from the legends as against 50 by Salah and 31 of Mane. Apart from the six points that Iwobi got from Akide and Nkwocha, the other half came from three points from Ghana’s Black Queens’ captain, Adjoa Bayor, two points from Mark Fish of South Africa and a point from Patrick Mboma of Cameroon.
The last sets of voters were coaches of the quarter-finalists of the CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup in 2018. They were 16 in all. The coach of Enyimba did not vote for Alex Iwobi. Rather, his votes were for: Salah (five points), Mane (four points), Aubamayang (three points), Mehdi Benatia (Morocco & Juventus (two points) and Riyad Mahrez (Algeria & Manchester City) had a point.
Overall, Iwobi had 100 points when all points scored were summed up. That put him fifth behind Salah (567), Mane (440), Riyad Mahrez (193) and Mehdi Benatia (105).