Moses Simon was officially unveiled as one of the 30 players on the Confederation of African Football (CAF) nominees' list for the African Men's Player of the Year award on Thursday.
Simon has been exceptional for the Super Eagles of Nigeria in the past 18 months. He has gone from being on the squad rotation roster of the team to becoming an undisputed starter except in low-pressure games.
At the January 2022 iteration of the African Cup of Nations which was initially supposed to be held in 2021, Simon was arguably Nigeria's best player until the team was knocked out of the tournament in the round of 16 by Tunisia.
At club level, Simon has also been influential and has seen his stock rise in the French Ligue 1 playing for Nantes FC, who he officially joined in 2020 after a year on loan at the club. The former UD Levante man finished the season as their top league assist provider with eight assists.
That was also the record for the most assists in the top flight by a Nantes player. His 14 goal contribution (six goals and eight assists) in the 2021/22 season was also the first time a Nantes player would be involved in 10+ goals in three consecutive seasons. Nantes won the Coupe de France title and Simon was instrumental in their run up to the Coupe de France title, which officially made him a fan favourite at the club.
He joins the likes of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Riyad Mahrez and Vincent Aboubakar on the nominees list, and is the only Nigerian to make the 30-man shortlist.
Simon took to social media to thank his fans and his coaches for helping him develop into the type of player that can make these lists. The former KAA Gent winger wrote on his Twitter: “Woke up to the news of my nomination for CAF Player Of The Year Award (MEN). This is not for me but for my coaches, teammates, family and friends. To God be the glory,”
Fans have taken to social media to question CAF for their exclusion of other Super Eagles players like Victor Osimhen and Joe Aribo from the nominees list but there is no response expected from such queries.
Meanwhile, youngster Akinkunmi Amoo made the 10-man shortlist for the men's Young Player of the Year as the only Nigerian, like his senior colleague Simon.
He makes the list alongside former Barcelona youngster Ilaix Moriba and Manchester United prospect Hannibal Mejbri. The young midfielder has broken through the barrier of getting noticed by the Super Eagles handlers and has gotten his first call up to the squad.
He is still waiting to be capped, however, but the FC Copenhagen man will be buoyed by the recognition by CAF.
The CAF Awards will hold on 21 July, 2022 in Morocco.
This article was most recently revised and updated 1 month ago