Fans of Nigerian athletes Victor Osimhen and Asisat Oshoala expressed doubts that either of them could win the highly coveted Ballon d’Or award, but that, whatever the outcome, their admiration and love for the two Nigerians remain unflinching.
Osimhen and Oshoala have been shortlisted for the 2023 Ballon d’Or award in the men’s and women’s categories.
The prestigious ceremony will take place in Paris on October 30. Both players enjoyed an incredible year for club and country.
Osimhen currently the leading scorer in the African Cup of Nations qualifying series with seven goals, becomes the first male Nigerian footballer to be shortlisted for the award in 24 years.
Former captain Nwankwo Kanu was the last Nigerian star to be shortlisted for the award in 1999.
The 24-year-old made history as the first African to be crowned Capocannoniere last season in the Serie A and the Napoli striker is the first player from the continent to achieve the feat winning the Scudetto after scoring 26 Serie A goals (31 goals in 39 games across all competitions).
Oshoala on her part, earned her consecutive nomination after a successful campaign with Barcelona Femeni where she won the Women’s Champions League.
Last year, she became the first African to be nominated for the Women’s Ballon d’Or and this time, she is the only African player listed in the women’s category.
The 28-year-old was the top scorer for Barcelona Femeni last season after she notched 26 goals (21 league goals and five in the Women’s Champions League) in all competitions.
She was also instrumental in Barcelona Femeni winning the league title and the Women’s Champions League last season.
Meanwhile, Lionel Messi is the favourite to win a record eighth title after captaining Argentina to World Cup glory in Qatar. However, Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland are both likely to be strong contenders, considering their impressive form in the year under review.