Victor Osimhen is in pole position to win the CAF Player of the Year Award but here is why Achraf Hakimi may be slightly more deserving.
The creme de la creme of African football will once again be the centre of attention on December 11 when the 2023 CAF Awards ceremony is held in Morocco.
None of the awards are a foregone conclusion but the one with the most ambiguity and potential to generate controversy is the men’s Player of the Year Award.
Nigeria’s Victor Osimhen, Algeria’s Riyad Mahrez and Egypt’s Mohamed Salah are some of the usual suspects while multiple Moroccan names have been mentioned for their amazing exploits at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Sevilla stars, Yassine Bounou and Youssef En-Nesyri are the Moroccan names that have been mentioned the most in this conversation while everyone seems to be ignoring a very strong candidate of the same nationality, Achraf Hakimi.
In fact, Hakimi might have a stronger case to be the 2023 CAF African Footballer of the Year ahead of the general favourite, Victor Osimhen.
Victor Osimhen’s case for CAF African Footballer of the Year
The 24-year-old became the first Nigerian and African Capocannoniere, winning the Italian top-flight Golden Boot with 26 goals, spearheading Napoli’s first Serie A title since 1990.
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His recent status as one of the very best strikers in world football has helped Osimhen form a watertight case for the African Footballer of the Year Award, leading many to believe he will be the first Nigerian winner since Kanu Nwankwo in 1999.
If he does win it, Osimhen would have undoubtedly deserved the award but Hakimi presents a stronger argument and here is why.
Achraf Hakimi’s case for CAF African Footballer of the Year
The Moroccan also has a league title to his name as his only trophy of the 2022/23 season just like Osimhen.
Admittedly, Napoli’s league title carries more sentimental weight as it was their first in 33 years compared to PSG’s which was the fifth in six years and ninth in the last 11 seasons.
Also, Osimhen played more of an integral role in his team’s league title compared to Hakimi who only started 23 league games.
However, even with the crucial context added, it is still only one league title apiece for both players which makes the World Cup exploits of Morocco the tiebreaker in Hakimi’s favour.
What Achraf Hakimi has over Victor Osimhen
It is an unwritten rule of annual football awards that the Mundial takes pre-eminence in a World Cup year and the fact that Osimhen was not even in Qatar because Nigeria failed to qualify is pretty damning.
Not only was Hakimi at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, he was one of the stars of the competition in what was a historic tournament for Africa.
Morocco became the first African team to reach the World Cup semi-finals and they ultimately finished fourth in the competition after losing the third-place playoff to Croatia.
Hakimi played all but 27 minutes in the tournament and was inarguably the best right fullback at the tournament.
It is important to note that the World Cup cannot be the only reason for Hakimi to win CAF Player of the Year over Osimhen but it is a pretty good tiebreaker.
A historic African performance on the world stage should not be overlooked, especially when there is also a solid club season to back it.
That is not to say Osimhen does not deserve it, he is the consensus favourite to win for a reason but it would not be a robbery if Hakimi won it for the above reasons.
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