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Osimhen, Oshoala Make History as First Nigerians to Be Nominated for Ballon d’Or

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The prestigious Ballon d’Or award has announced its 30 nominees for the men’s and women’s categories, and for the first time in history, two Nigerians have made the cut. Victor Osimhen and Asisat Oshoala are among the five African players vying to win the coveted prize, which honours the best footballer of the year.

Osimhen, who plays for Napoli in Italy, had a stellar season, scoring 31 goals and helping his club clinch their first Serie A title in 33 years. He also became the first African player to win the Italian golden boot award, and the leading scorer in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign with seven goals. The 23-year-old striker has been praised for his pace, power, and finishing skills, and has been compared to legendary Nigerian forward Rashidi Yekini.

Oshoala, who plays for Barcelona Femení in Spain, also had a remarkable season, winning the treble with her club and scoring 28 goals in all competitions. She became the first-ever Barcelona Femení player and African player to score in a UEFA Women’s Champions League final, and the first Nigerian to score in any UEFA Champions League final. The 28-year-old forward has also won the Confederation of African Football’s African Women’s Player of the Year award five times, more than any other player.

The duo have received congratulatory messages from former Super Eagles coach Fanny Amun, who told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that their nominations had put Nigeria on the map. He said that they had proven themselves to be game makers and role models for young aspiring players. He also expressed confidence that they would continue to excel in their careers and make the nation proud.

The Ballon d’Or award, which is organised by France Football magazine, has been dominated by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for the past decade, with the exception of Luka Modric in 2018. Messi, who won his seventh Ballon d’Or last year, is the favourite to win again this year, after leading Argentina to their first World Cup title since 1986 and winning the Ligue 1 with Paris Saint-Germain. However, he faces stiff competition from Manchester City’s Erling Haaland, who scored 52 goals in his debut season and won the treble with his club.

The winners of the men’s and women’s awards will be announced on October 30 in Paris, after a voting process involving journalists, national team coaches and captains, and fans. The ceremony will also honour the best young player, the best goalkeeper, and the best coach of the year.

Osimhen and Oshoala have made history by being nominated for the Ballon d’Or, but they also have a chance to make history by winning it. If they do, they will not only bring glory to themselves, but also to Nigeria and Africa as a whole.

Source: Vanguard

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