Asisat Oshoala: Still the African Queen

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Asisat Oshoala

Though, she could not inspire the Super Falcons to win a ticket to the 2020 Olympic Games football event, her ingenuity on the pitch of play was not undermined. On a night Nigeria lost four of its five nominations at the CAF Award in Egypt, including the absence of any of the country’s player in the Best XI of the Year, Asisat Oshoala saved the day as she emerged Best African Female Footballer of the Year

Asisat Oshoala on Tuesday beat the duo of Ajara Nchout of Cameroon and South Africa’s Thembi Kgatlana to emerge the Best African Female Footballer of the Year at the 2019 CAF Awards ceremony in Egypt.

Tuesday’s feat made it the fourth time the 25-year-old who plays for the Spanish side Barcelona is being crowned the best African female footballer after she won the award in 2014, 2016 and 2017, and was also among the final three in 2018 but lost to her South African rival Kgatlana.
Shortly after she was announced as the winner, Oshoala took to Twitter to thank her family and friends, as well as her fans and colleagues locally and internationally for their support.

“4 times baby!!! Sometimes you forget to smell the roses along the way in life. I’m always the type thinking about my next move and never really stop and celebrate the things in between. This is such an amazing accomplishment and I’m happy. But there’s still work to do.
“Grateful to be African Women’s Player of the Year for the 4th time. Thank God, my Family, Friends and Fans for the support. Big shoutout to my club, my management, teammates at both national team and club level and of course thanks to @CAF_Online for the opportunity,” she tweeted.
A historic fourth triumph saw the Super Falcons striker equal the record held by Perpetual Nkwocha since she claimed 2004, 2005, 2010 and 2011 prizes.

Having seen her African feat matched; the former Nigerian international has hailed the 25-year-old on her latest achievement and believes she has what it takes to win a record fifth gong.

“I remember vividly when you were asked in an interview who you looked up to as a young star and you called my name,” Nkwocha wrote on her Instagram page on Wednesday.

“I smiled because I’ve seen you play. Hmmm, what do you do if Messi says he looks up to you? You just smile. Congratulations Star girl. Make and break the records girl. The world at your feet.”

Oshoala was the only Nigerian who picked up an award on Tuesday night after Super Eagles stars Samuel Chukwueze and Victor Osimhen lost out in the Young Player of the Year award to Moroccan defender Achraf Hakimi, Swedish coach Thomas Dennerby who was nominated for the Women’s Coach of the Year for his job with the Super Falcons of Nigerian lost out to Desiree Ellis of South Africa while the Super Falcons of Nigeria were beaten to the Women’s National Team of the Year by Cameroon.

To cap the bad night, no Nigerian player made the FIFPro Best African XI of the Year making it five years since a Nigerian made the Best African XI of the Year. In the last decade, only four Nigerians have managed to make the XI seven times.

Vincent Enyeama and Taye Taiwo in 2010, Taiwo again in 2011, Enyeama and Mikel Obi made it in 2013 while Ahmed Musa and Enyeama were included in 2014.

Having won the golden ball and the golden boot at the 2014 U-20 Women’s World Cup as Nigeria finished runners-up – added to an African Cup of Nations winner’s medal the same year, the young striker started to turn heads internationally.

Oshoala has never compromised her passion for the round leather game right from the onset, as she abandoned her education for football against the wishes of her parents.

“My passion for football made me drop out of school. This is one sport I won’t compromise. Growing up, people see me as a tomboy as I always play alongside male footballers. Those that chose to go to school do so because they want to make it in life likewise those of us that opted to play football. Though, my opting to play football was against my parents’ wish because they were not happy with my decision then but now I have brought them joy. I’m still not ruling out returning to school,” Oshoala said.

Oshoala joined Barcelona on loan in January last year before securing a permanent deal with her convincing form.

“My goal is to strengthen the team and help them to win and make history. This is a fantastic opportunity because I’m sure something big will happen here,” these were the words of Oshoala at her unveiling by Barcelona.

“This is obviously one of the best clubs in the world. The team has a great history and wonderful football mentality,” she said after she completed her switch. I am excited about playing with Vicky Losada again. She’s a great midfielder, with a lot of energy and skill. I also met Fabiana in China and she helped me to make this decision.”

Before joining the Barcelona, Oshoala has won highest goalscorer back-to-back in the Chinese women league.

She became second Super Falcons player to play in the Spanish Gemini after Fransisca Ordega played for Atletico Madrid Gemini side.

Oshoala is no stranger to the big stage. In 2015, at just 20, she was named the BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year, making her the first player to win the new award from the BBC World Service voted for by football fans around the world, beating Spain’s Veronica Boquete, German Nadine Kessler, Scot Kim Little and Brazilian Marta to the honour.

Oshoala, who was the youngest player to be shortlisted, was the leading scorer at the U-20s World Cup in Canada in 2014 and was voted the tournament’s best player.

Oshoala made headline when she signed for Liverpool in July 2015, becoming the first African player to play for any English women’s side.
“When I got the deal from them, I was very excited. I supported Liverpool when I was younger, especially when Luis Suarez was still here. He’s a player I have really admired,” Oshoala said.

In addition to Suarez, the Falcons star also idolises former Real and AC Milan midfielder, Clarence Seedorf.

“I like him so much. I like players who work hard and give everything on the pitch. When you see a player like that, he is an inspiration. I love the way Seedorf played; I love everything about him. For the same reason, I admire Luis Suarez. He is ready to give everything and do everything for his club. I love players like that,” she said.

In a chat with THISDAY, former Falcons goalkeeper, Ann Chiejina is optimistic that the way Oshoala is going, she would one day climb the podium for the FIFA Award.

“I just hope and pray she keeps working hard. With the way she’s going she is not too far from being selected for the FIFA Women’s Footballer Award,” Chiejina said.