The 2018 edition of the AITEO CAF Awards which took place in Dakar, Senegal on Tuesday evening saw Nigeria win the Women’s Team of the Year while losing out in every other category of the awards gala.
Nigerians are however not taking likely the exclusion of Super Eagles and Leicester City’s defensive midfielder Wilfred Ndidi from the CAF Team of the Year. Not only that, these football fans believe some of the players who made it ahead of Ndidi and some of his Super Eagles team mates don’t even deserve to be on the team in the first place.
First, here’s what the CAF XI announced on Tuesday evening looks like:
Africa's best XI #AiteoCAFAwards18 pic.twitter.com/FQhnsncR0d
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— CAF (@CAF_Online) January 8, 2019
This was then followed by a barrage of comments by Nigerians who think (and rightly so) at least a Super Eagle Wilfred Ndidi should have made the team considering his exploit in England and with the National team in the past year.
African XI rada rada 🙄
— Latifat Adebayo Ohio (@Phatill) January 8, 2019
This Africa Best 11 though….#AiteoCAFAwards2018 #CAFAwards2018 pic.twitter.com/OG3q5m52A9
— Biola Solace-Chukwu (@Beeorlicious) January 8, 2019
Ndidi over Keita & Partey. That stats in Europe's top 5 leagues last season and currently says it all.
— Uncle Wilson™ (@iam_wilsons) January 9, 2019
Ndidi in place of keita
Ndidi is always performing week in, week out
This caf pro11 Na just play play
— Babajide Agidi (@babajideshegz) January 9, 2019
How did Ndidi not make African 11? How? #AiteoCAFAwards2018
— Ibadan City Hunter (@R_Thobykov) January 8, 2019
How is @Ahmedmusa718 not part of this squad? Did these guys watch the world cup?#AiteoCAFAwards2018 https://t.co/1fQG4zELvA
— Davon 💭 (@DavonSukah) January 9, 2019
Just look at that CAF XI
Eric Bailly and Serge Aurier… For playing for top 4 teams in England.
Naby Keita and Riyadh Mahrez for earning moves to top 4 teams in England.
Not even a place for their Hakimi Achraf. No reward for World Cup appearances. #CAFAwards18 Tueh
— Fisayo Dairo (@FisayoDairo) January 8, 2019
Well, I’ll say as a Nigerian and a fan of the youthful and enterprising crop of Super Eagles players I feel the grievances of the Nigerian football community but; it is important to note that these players were not voted for by CAF but by footballers.
That said, it’s obvious the problem for Ndidi is definitely not visibility because the Premier League is on TV every other weekend. The problem is also not the club he plays for neither is it game time. So, as a footballer with the interest of African players home and abroad at heart while watching the foreign leagues, it’s funny that people voted for Riyad Mahrez (a fellow Leicester player at the time) ahead of Ndidi in that central midfield position.
When you see what the Nigerian does for Leicester week in week out and how he replicated it on the continent during the AFCON and World Cup qualifiers and at the World Cup in Russia, it’s even more mind boggling how he doesn’t make the cut.
So if you ask me: “Should Wilfred Ndidi have made the CAF XI team? I’ll say a very big fat YES. Ahead of who? I really do not care, but Naby Keita and Riyad Mahrez didn’t do as much as the Nigerian for club and country in the last 12 months; while Thomas Partey did really well with Atletico Madrid crowning it with a Europa League winners medal.
The funny thing is: of all three in the CAF XI midfield role, only Wilfred Ndidi made it to the World Cup. I must also remind you that Riyad Mahrez and his Algerian team where in the same group with Ndidi and his Super Eagles team that qualified for the World Cup with a game to spare.
I rest my case.