Nigeria: At 7th Pitch Awards Ceremony, Foreign Based Soccer Stars Sweep All Available Trophies

After several months of delay, the 7th Nigeria Pitch Awards ceremony was finally held Tuesday, December 22 at the Ibis Hotel in Ikeja, Lagos southwest Nigeria.


The award is organized annually to celebrate Nigerian players, both home and abroad, who perform incredibly well in their football careers. The 7th edition considered the outings of these players in the 2019 season.


Making the announcement Tuesday, December 22, the organizers noted that the 7th Award Ceremony initially scheduled to hold in March 2020 was put off, in line with the guidelines of the Covid-19 prevention protocols as outlined by the Presidential Task Force set up by the federal government.


Players plying their trade at the home front could not make themselves known in the list of the award winners, as most of the award categories, were won by players exploiting their talents in football leagues abroad.


Voting on the platform of the Nigeria Pitch Awards was done by over 100 sports editors and journalists across the 36 states of the country. The votes cast were collated and audited by a professional accounting body.


Super Eagles and Leicester City FC midfield sensation, Wilfred Ndidi and Super Falcons and FC Barcelona Femeni hit woman, Asisat Oshoala emerged the King and the Queen of the Pitch for the year 2019, respectively.


Daniel Akpeyi of Kaizer Chiefs and Watford defender, William Troost-Ekong emerged Goalkeeper and Defender of the Year in their respective categories. Wilfred Ndidi confirmed his position as the Super Eagles’ midfield maestro by dusting off competition from Joe Aribo of Rangers FC and Oghenekaro Etebo of Stoke City FC to retain the Midfielder of the Year award.


In the Striker of the Year Category, Super Eagles and Napoli FC striker, Victor Osimhen starved off competition from Odion Ighalo of Manchester United and Samuel Chukwueze of Villarreal FC. Barrister Seyi Akinwunmi, First Vice President of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), who is also Chairman of the Lagos State Football Association won the Sam Okwaraji Award for Commitment to Nigerian Football. Gernot Rohr, Manager of the Super Eagles emerged 2019 Coach of the Year, while Enyimba International emerged Team of the Year and AITEO Group, the foremost sponsor of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) carted home the coveted Corporate Sponsor of Football Award for 2019.


Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa won the Football Friendly Governor for the second year in a row, while Lagos State emerged winner of the State with the Best Grassroots Football Development Programme.


In the media category, Johnny Edwards of The Punch won the Football Journalist of the Year – Print category, while Olawale Adigun of Top Radio FM emerged winner in the Radio category. In the TV and Online categories, Channels TV Sports Editor Austin Okon-Akpan and Samuel Ahmadu won, respectively.


“Thanks to God. I honestly feel humbled to win the Football Journalist of the Year (Online) 2019 for the second year in a row at the Nigeria Pitch Awards. To my media colleagues, I do appreciate you all for considering me worthy of this prestigious award. To all at Goal, friends, women's football community and my family, thanks for the amazing support always. God bless you all richly,” Ahmadu of the told Timescape Magazine after receiving his award.


Mr. Demola Olajire, the Nigerian Football Federation Communications Director reiterated the Federation’s support for the awards stressing that the organizers have been resilient and committed to holding the event year after year.


Mohammed Abubakar Adamu, Nigeria's Inspector General of Police (C) Vanguard News


Other highlights of the award ceremony included the appearance of two top Nollywood celebrities, Chioma Omeruwa popularly known as Chigul and Segun Arinze. The maiden Sportsmanship Award was presented to the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar Adamu for his use of sports in the fight against crime and his sportsman’s attributes in the discharge of his duties as Nigeria’s Police Chief.