Ahead of CAF Awards 2019, the Confederations of African Football (CAF) have unveiled the different nominees for several categories of the awards.
For CAF’s Best XI of the Year, four Super Eagles players Wilfred Ndidi, Odion Ighalo, Alex Iwobi and Francis Uzoho are among the shortlist.
CAF’s Best XI of the Year is a team of the best African players in each position on the field of play and it also tells to a large extent who the best players from the continents are.
Before the final XI will be unveiled, we look at the chances of the four Super Eagles players from making it.
Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City)
Ndidi is the only Nigerian player on the shortlist that has a genuine chance of making it to the final XI. The Leicester City midfielder had another good year in the Premier League where he continued to remain one of the best defensive midfielders.
He finished last season as the best tackler in the whole of Europe and also had an insane number of interceptions. These have been his biggest strengths that have shot him into the conversations about the best defensive midfielders in world football.
This season, the 22 has gotten better for Leicester City who are flying in the Premier League.
He, however, wasn’t this good for the Super Eagles of Nigeria. Handicapped by the more advanced role he was given at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), Ndidi couldn’t play to his strength and wasn’t at his best in national colours.
Nevertheless, he has done enough to get into CAF’s Best XI of 2019 with Idrissa Gueye the only true competition in his position.
Francis Uzoho (Anorthosis Famagusta/Omonia)
Uzoho is nominated after an underwhelming year which highlights the credibility of CAF’s shortlist. The Super Eagles goalkeeper has barely played football this year. He couldn’t play for the better part of last season after complications in his move to Anorthosis Famagusta in Cyprus.
That made him lose his place in the Super Eagles XI and spent most of AFCON 2019 on the bench.
He started well in the new season and reclaimed his place in the Super Eagles XI before he sustained a long-term injury.
Alex Iwobi (Arsenal/Everton)
Iwobi’s nomination also does not tell well of CAF’s shortlist. The Nigerian endured a poor season with Arsenal at first part of 2019 before his move to Everton. He has been better at Everton but yet to hit the heights.
For the Super Eagles, he played all seven games at AFCON 2019 and scored one goal.
With the likes of Moroccan star Hakim Ziyech and Algerian forward Riyad Mahrez shortlisted as attacking midfielders, Iwobi is not expected to make the final XI.
Odion Ighalo (Shanghai Shenhua)
Ighalo makes this shortlist due to his exploits at AFCON 2019 where he finished as the highest goalscorer. In his last act as a Super Eagles player, Ighalo finished as the top scorer at AFCON 2019
He also was the highest goalscorer of the qualifiers.
His club career wasn’t on the same height in 2019 as he struggled with injury after his move to Shanghai Shenhua)
Ighalo has little chance of making the list with the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah- the trio who finished as top-scorers in the Premier League last season and have continued to score this season.