Bambanani Mbane of South Africa challenges Ugochi Desire Oparanozie of Nigeria during the Women Africa Cup of Nations match between Nigeria and South Africa 29 November 2016 at Limbe Omnisports Stadium. PHOTO: Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix
As the Confederation of African Football (CAF) awards ceremony was going on in Accra, Ghana, yesterday, some ardent followers of women football in the continent were gnawing, raising questions on the criteria used in selecting players for the Woman Footballer of the year category.
To a majority of them, the decision by CAF to ignore Super Falcons and Guingamp of France striker, Desire Oparanozie on the list was an unpardonable error.
“Has the CAF award become a political tool in the hands of some individuals in Africa?,” one female football coach queried in a chat with The Guardian. “To me, no other female player in Africa deserves the award this year than Oparanozie. Her contributions to Super Falcons winning the last AWC title in Camemoun were more than any other player on the continent. I can’t really understand why she is not among those shortlisted for the award,” the coach lamented.
At the last edition of the African Women Nations Cup in Cameroon, Oparanozie was the sole reason why the Super Falcons smiled last in the championship. Apart from scoring the only goal for Nigeria to outclass a resilient Banyana Banyana of South Africa in the semifinal, Oparanozie accounted for the all-important goal in the final, which sent the entire people of Cameroon, including sports-loving President Paul Biya to early bed.
“If this CAF award in Ghana is for individual contribution to their national teams and clubs in 2016/1017, than CAF must have goofed in the selection of the woman footballer of the year category,” another female football enthusiast stated yesterday. “Those who did the selection/voting were not sincere because Oparanozie truly deserves to be among the three shortlisted for the award. She is the winner as far as I am concerned because she contributed more to Super Falcons success in Cameroon even more than Asisat Oshoala.
“And Oparanozie is one of the leading scorers in France where she plays club football. I remember that Oshoala major contribution to the Falcons during the AWC in Cameroon was scoring four goals against Mali. What the record of Mali when we talk of women football in Africa? When jungle became matured, it was Oparanozie who rescued the team against South Africa in the semifinal and Cameroon in the final. So why was she not among those shortlisted in the first place?.
“I remember that in 1994, Emmanuel Amunike won the African Football of the year award because of his exploits for the Super Eagles in Tunisia, where he scored two goals against Zambia in the final. That was the only match he played for Nigeria in that competition. This new CAF Executive must correct some of the glitches we noticed during the Issa Hayaltu’s regime,” the fan added.
Oparanozie, who joined the France side from Wolfsburg in 2014, has maintained a goalscoring run of 22 goals in 37 club appearances, with five goals from eight games this campaign.
She was not among the three contenders for the CAF women footballer of the year award held in Accra, Ghana yesterday. Rather, it was the trio of Oshoala, Cameroon’s Gabrielle Aboudi Onguene and South African Chrestina Kgatlana.