Africa’s leading indigenous energy solution company, Aiteo Group, is basking in the euphoria of a highly successful 2017 Aiteo CAF Football Awards that shook the Ghanaian capital, Accra to its very foundation on Thursday night.
A number of ‘firsts’ were established for the event before kick –off, and the turn –out of Africa’s elite in politics, business, football and entertainment raised the stock of the showpiece, and when CAF President Ahmad described it as “the best African Football Awards in history,” there was not a single dissenting voice.
Ahead of the day, legends and coaches of African football flew into Accra from all directions – it was the first time in the history of the Awards that all past winners were invited, alongside a coterie of former superstars, including Mohamed Timoumi and Lakhdar Belloumi. Nigeria’s Victor Ikpeba and Emmanuel Amuneke (who presented the Coach of the Year award) were in the mix.
For the first time ever, football fans and the general public were presented with the opportunity to have a say in the selection process for the African Player of the Year and Africa’s Finest XI.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo of Ghana, former President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, former President John Jerry Rawlings of Ghana (accompanied by his wife, Nana Konadu), the First Lady-designate of Liberia (Mrs George Weah), Nigeria’s Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, Aiteo Chairman Benedict Peters, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State, Deputy Governor Yetunde Onanuga of Ogun State, CAF President Ahmad, FIFA Secretary –General Fatma Samoura, Members of the Federal Executive Council of Ghana and Members of the CAF Executive Committee were among the personalities in the front row.
Presidents of CAF’s member associations, a strong team from the Nigeria Football Federation, heavy presence of the Ghana Football Association hierarchy and an elite team from the Lagos State Government were complemented by legends and stars of the African game, CAF secretariat, members of the diplomatic corps, leading artistes and other football stakeholders.
NFF’s team included its President and CAF executive member Amaju Pinnick, Vice Presidents Seyi Akinwunmi and Shehu Dikko, Executive Committee members Ibrahim Gusau, Yusuf Ahmed and Sharif Inuwa, Chairman of Women’s Football Committee, Hon. Ayo Omidiran and a number of NPFL club owners led by chairman, Isaac Danladi.
Aiteo chieftains Francis Peters (Vice Chairman/CEO), Obinna Onyearu and Ndiana Mathew, and Barr. A. U. Mustapha (SAN) were also in prominent positions.
The Lagos State delegation also included Steve Ayorinde (Information and Strategy Commissioner), Kweku Tandoh (Chairman of Lagos State Sports Commission), Ayodeji Tinubu (SA to Governor), Adeyinka Adeboye (SA to Governor) Tunde Bank-Anthony (DG, Sports Commission) and Liameed Abdulgafar.
Two –time winner of the Africa Player of the Year and one of the best to have come out of Africa, Didier Drogba compered alongside South Africa diva Carol Tshabalala.
NFF President Pinnick told thenff.com at the end: “This has been a very exciting and colourful night. It has been worthwhile. Everyone, from CAF to Aiteo, is happy about the turn –out of the very first Awards that both are involved together and the NFF is also happy.”
Lagos State Governor Ambode said: “We are very happy with what Aiteo as an institution is doing for Nigerian Football, and that is why we are here to support them, to support the NFF and to support CAF. This has been a spectacular event and it is good for the image of Nigeria.”
AITEO Group, Nigeria’s leading energy solution company and Official Optimum Partner of the Nigeria Football Federation, signed a contract with the Confederation of African Football in Lagos in October 2017 and bankrolled the event for the first time.
As expected, Egypt and Liverpool ace Mohamed Salah took the gong for the men’s title (ahead of Senegal’s Sadio Mane and Gabon’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang) while Nigeria’s Asisat Oshoala took the women’s crown. However, Super Eagles’ coach Gernot Rohr lost the Coach of the Year crown to Hector Cuper (Coach of Egypt), and Egypt’s Pharaohs (runner-up of the AFCON and returning to the FIFA World Cup after 28 years) took the National Team of the Year ahead of the Super Eagles. Nigeria’s Junior Ajayi made Africa’s Finest XI.
Salah said: “For me, this is a dream come true. I genuinely cherish this award, and I dedicate it to all the young people of Egypt and the whole of Africa. My message to them is that they should never stop dreaming, and they should never stop believing in themselves.”
Player of the Year: Mohamed Salah
Woman Player of the Year: Asisat Oshoala
Youth Player of the Year: Patson Daka
Coach of the Year: Hector Cuper
National Team of the Year: Egypt
Women’s National Team of the Year: South Africa
Club of the Year: Wydad Athletic Club (Morocco)
African Legend Award: Ibrahim Sunday (Ghana)
Football Leader of the Year: Ahmed Yahya (Mauritania)
Special Recognition Award: George Oppong Weah (Liberia)
Platinum Award: President Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo (Ghana)