***As women’s football growth nosedive in Nigeria
By Harry Awurumibe, Editor, Abuja Bureau
There are indications that the growth of women’s football has nosedived in Nigeria following the recent release of the preliminary nominees for the various women’s categories for the CAF Awards 2023 by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
CAF on Tuesday unveiled the preliminary nominees for the various women’s categories for the CAF Awards 2023 including Interclub Player of the Year (Women) and Club of the Year (Women) with no Nigerian club or player found worthy to make the list of eight clubs and 10 players nominated for the awards.
Prompt News reports that a closer look at the nominees for the Inter-club Player of the Year (Women) and Club of the Year (Women) showed that neither Nigerian clubs nor players made the shortlist drawn by what CAF called a distinguished panel made up of CAF Technical Experts, Legends, and selected media representatives.
A release by CAF also said the list of nominees was decided by the panel, taking into consideration the performances recorded by the clubs and players at all levels of football activities from December 2022 to November 2023.
Eight nominees have been penciled for the Club of the Year (Women) and 10 for Interclub Player of the Year (Women), for players playing in the African women’s football league like the Nigeria Women’s Football League (NWFL) which kicked off Tuesday in Ado-Ekiti, capital of Ekiti state.
Specifically, in the Club of the Year (Women) category, Morocco has two clubs-AS FAR and SC Casablanca while Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, South Africa and Tanzania have one each just as AS FAR of Morocco has three players nominated for the Interclub Player of the Year category with Ampem Darkoa of Ghana and Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa having two players each.
Reasons for the exclusion of Nigerian clubs and players from the two categories of awards are not far fetched as Nigerian clubs are not playing in CAF interclub football competition because the NWFL 2023 champions, Delta Queens FC of Asaba failed to qualify for the ongoing CAF Women’s Champions League tournament in Cote d’Ivoire.
The club lost to Ampem Darkoa of Ghana in the final of West African Football Union (WAFU) B tournament hosted by Nigeria three months ago at Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium Benin City, Edo state, thus ruling Nigeria out to produce a club or exceptional players worthy of being shortlisted by selectors.
Also, no Nigerian club has lifted the three-year old CAF Women’s Champions League trophy after the country’s representatives Rivers Angels of Port Harcourt crashed out in the group stage in the maiden edition which Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa won in 2021.
Morocco’s ASFAR won the second edition in 2022 ahead of Nigeria’s Bayelsa Queens which finished a distant third position.
The failure of Nigerian clubs to step up to be counted in the recent time is a testament that Nigeria’s domestic women’s football league has been mismanaged in the recent years and the standard of the game nosedive to a point that the Giant of Africa, in women’s football sector can no longer compete favourably with South Africa and Morocco in women’s football. READ ALSO:
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The finalists of the ongoing CAF Women’s Champions League Cote d’Ivoire 2023 have each been rewarded with a place in the Club of the Year category.
The winner of each category will be decided after votes from a voting panel consisting of CAF Technical Committee, media professionals from Member Associations, Head Coaches & Captains of Member Associations and clubs involved at the group stages of the Interclub competitions.
The Awards Gala is to be graced by the crème de la crème of African football on 11 December 2023 in Marrakech, Morocco.
Full List of Nominees (in alphabetic order by Member Association):
*Club of the Year (Women)*
1. Athletico d’Abidjan (Cote d’Ivoire)
2. Huracanes (Equatorial Guinea)
3.Ampem Darkoa (Ghana)
4. AS Mande (Mali)
5. AS FAR (Morocco)
6. SC Casablanca (Morocco)
7. Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa)
8. JKT Queens (Tanzania).
*Interclub Player of the Year (Women)*
1. Refilwe Tholakele (Botswana, Mamelodi Sundowns)
2. N’Guessan Nadege Koffi (Cote d’Ivoire, SC Casablanca)
3. Elena Oyana (Equatorial Guinea, Huracanes)
4. Comfort Yeboah (Ghana, Ampem Darkoa)
5. Tracy Twum (Ghana, Ampem Darkoa)
6. Oumou Kone (Mali, AS Mande)
7. Aziza Rabbah (Morocco, AS FAR)
8. Fatima Tagnaout (Morocco, AS FAR)
9. Ghizlaine Chebbak (Morocco, AS FAR)
10. Lebohang Ramalepe (South Africa, Mamelodi Sundowns)