Watford FC striker, Odion Ighalo was voted King of Pitch at the Nigeria Pitch Awards held Friday night in Kaduna hours after the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match against the Pharaohs of Egypt.
Indeed it was a night of celebration and eulogies as Super Eagles Captain and Chelsea FC of England midfielder, John Obi Mikel also picked up deserved awards at the Nigeria Pitch Awards.
Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State, Sports Minister Solomon Dalung and NFF President Amaju Pinnick were also among eminent Nigerians who personally graced and picked up honours at the third edition of the Nigeria Pitch Awards in Kaduna on Friday.
Obi, along with NFF boss Pinnick and former Nigeria international Olusegun Odegbami picked up the Sam Okwaraji Award for Commitment to Nigerian Football, while Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, Barrister Solomon Dalung, Super Eagles head coach Samson Siasia and former Inspector General of Police, Sir Mike Okiro (now Chairman of the Police Service Commission) received the Special Achievement in Football Awards.
In the players’ category, Ikechukwu Ezenwa of Sunshine Stars FC picked up the Goalkeeper of the Year award. Other winners in this category are Chinedu Udoji of Enyimba FC (Defender of the Year), Paul Onobi of Sunshine Stars FC (Midfielder of the Year) and Odion Ighalo of Watford FC (Striker of the Year) and King of the Pitch. Asisat Oshoala retained her position as Queen of the Pitch.
Emmanuel Amuneke snatched the top prize for Coaches for his exploits with the Golden Eaglets in 2015 while Kadiri Ikhana won the Manager of the Year Award. The Golden Eaglets and Enyimba FC won the Team of the Year and Club of the Year respectively. His Excellency, Nyesom Wike was voted Football Friendly Governor of the Year and Lagos emerged the State with the Best Grassroots Football Development Programme for the third consecutive year.
In the Media Category, Godwin Enakhena (Top Radio), Austin Okon-Akpan (Channels TV) and Tana Aiyejina (Punch) were announced winners.
Also at the brief but impressive ceremony were NFF 1st Vice President Seyi Akinwunmi, 2ndVice President/LMC chairman Shehu Dikko, Board Members Ibrahim Musa Gusau, Ahmed Yusuf Fresh, Sharif Rabiu Inuwa, Sunday Dele-Ajayi, Babagana Kalli, Suleiman Yahaya-Kwande and Chris Green, as well as General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi