Super Eagles and Italian Serie A top scorer, Victor James Osimhen and FC Barcelona Femeni top finisher, Asisat Oshoala were named the King and Queen of the Pitch respectively at the 9th Award Ceremony of the Nigeria Pitch Awards held at the Johnwood Hotel, Abuja on Friday 24th March 2023.
Award organizers insisted on staging the colourful ceremony despite the Super Eagles’ shock loss to the national team of Guinea-Bissau at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium earlier.
Speaking at the well-attended ceremony, Shina Philips, President of the Nigeria Pitch Awards stated that one shock loss by the team should not obliterate the exploits and achievements of the players and the entire team.
‘The Eagles are ranked 5th in Africa; they have 19 appearances at the AFCON finals and have emerged winners 3 times. The Eagles have made 6 appearances at the World Cup finals since 1994.’
Speaking further, Philips said in the current season in Europe, Victor Osimhen had scored 21 goals in the extremely competitive Italian Serie A; Asisat Oshoala had netted 18 goals in the Spanish Ladies Premier League. Alex Iwobi, Calvin Bassey have helped their respective teams to successful outings.’
‘We also cannot ignore the exploits of our local coaches, administrators, football sponsors and football journalists. These people have put in their best and deserve to be identified, recognized and honoured. We have a lot to celebrate’, Philips concluded.
The Award Ceremony was witnessed by AIG Aishatu Abubakar, the highest-ranking woman police officer in the NPF, AIG Olukayode Egbetokun, AIG Zone 7, members of the Super Eagles, representative of SIAO Partners, Mr Alan and Mr Elli of Hawthorn Suites and guests.
Francis Uzoho, the AC Omonoia Nicosia FC shot stopper was named the Goalkeeper of the Year while the AFC Ajax left-back Calvin Bassey emerged the Defender of the Year. Alex Iwobi, who has averaged a total of 39 passes per match with a pass completion rate of 80 percent, and has 6 assists for his English Premier League side, Everton FC, won the Midfielder of the Year and the current Napoli FC goal poacher, Victor Osimhen also picked up the Striker of the Year award for the second season.
In the other categories, the NPFL defending champions and The Pride of Rivers, Rivers United won the Team of the Year while Stanley Eguma, one of the longest serving coaches in the NPFL and coach of Rivers United carted home the Coach of the Year award. Barr. Seyi Akinwunmi, Former 1st Vice-President of the NFF and organizer of the Seyi Akinwunmi Charity Foundation Mini-Tournament, who won the Sam Okwaraji Award for commitment to Nigerian football, who won the award last year, retained the award for a second time.
Lagos State again emerged the State with the Best Grassroots Football
Development Programme at the 9th Award Ceremony. The Godswill Akpabio Int’l Stadium in Uyo was voted the best Football Pitch of the Year while His Excellency, Nyesom Wike CON, the Executive Governor of Rivers State was voted the Football Friendly Governor of the Year for the second time. Nigeria’s sport betting giant, BET9JA emerged Corporate Sponsor of Football Award.
In the media categories, Johnny Edward, Punch Newspapers correspondent was voted the Football Journalist of the Year – Print for the second time. The versatile Supersport presenter, Mozez Praiz, starved off stiff competition from Promise Efoghe (Television Continental) and Cecilia Omoregbe (Channels TV) to emerge winner of the Football Journalist of the Year – TV.
In the Football Journalist of the Year – Radio category, Tony Bekederemo of Sports Radio 88.9 Brila FM emerged winner for the third time since first winning it in 2018. Tobi Samuel Adepoju of Oganla Media won the Football Journalist of The Year – Online category.
The Nigeria Pitch Awards was first staged in 2013 in Calabar, the Cross Rivers state capital. Since it’s maiden edition, it has remained steadfast and committed to the annual event. While explaining the unique nature of the awards, Nelson Olafisoye, the Chief Operating Officer of the Nigeria Pitch Awards stated that there are over 150 primary voters spread across the 36 states and the FCT.
‘All votes are collated and verified by SIAO Partners, Nigeria’s foremost indigenous accounting firm. After collation and auditing, the results are then announced by the accounting firm. This is why the awards is arguably the only sport awards in Nigeria and one of the few audited awards in Africa’, he concluded.