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Victor Moses can be the only winner of NFF award

The Nigeria Football Federation will name their inaugural player of the year at an awards ceremony in Lagos on Monday, but don't expect too much suspense ahead of the winner's unveiling.

The Player of the Year gong is one of several awards that will be dished out by the NFF during the first such prize-giving event, although Victor Moses stands head and shoulders above the his rivals.

Chelsea's right wing-back is one of three nominees, and while Wilfred Ndidi and Anthony Okpotu both deserve commendation for excellent campaigns, they're rank outsiders when compared to the 27-year-old.

Ndidi enjoyed an excellent year at Leicester City, and one that's gone largely under the radar among the broader public.

He arrived in England during a difficult spell for the then-reigning champions, but adapted seamlessly to life in the Premier League and finally emerged as an answer to the N'Golo Kante-shaped hole in the heart of the Foxes' midfield.

The former Genk man wasn't daunted by the prospect of the rarefied atmosphere of Champions League knockout football, and he also established himself as a key figure in Gernot Rohr's new Nigeria side.

Okpotu also enjoyed a year to remember.

The Lobi Stars frontman may have only netted twice during the African Nations Championship in Morocco, but his 19 goals last term represent an excellent return for a player representing one of the NPFL's midtable sides.

The Panther overhauled Stephen Odey, who subsequently secured a move to FC Zurich, and terrorised defences throughout the division with his upper-body strength, movement and finishing ability.

However, while football's individual awards are typically won by offensive players, don't expect Okpotu to leave Monday's ceremony with the prize.

Certainly, it would be a major shock if anyone other than Moses takes home the inaugural POTY award.

Consider the wideman's achievements over the last 12 months.

He was the only African player across Europe's major five leagues - although a case could be made for Nabil Dirar, Almamy Toure and Kwadwo Asamoah - to have played a critical role in a title triumph after starring during Chelsea's championship-winning campaign.

As well as establishing himself as a starter for the Pensioners, he also weighed in with several decisive contributions during their fine top-flight campaign.

Notably, the Nigeria international netted against Tottenham Hotspur in a 2-1 victory in November, while also helping Chelsea to the FA Cup final and netting in their Community Shield penalty-shootout defeat by Arsenal.

There were two things which transformed Moses's campaign from an impressive season to a truly remarkable campaign.

The first was the way that he came in from the cold - having apparently been destined for the exit door - to reinvigorate his Stamford Bridge career. Few could have foreseen that the West African would have gone from being a perpetual loanee to a central figure in a successful Chelsea side.

However, not only did Moses step from the departure lounge to become a pivotal part in Antonio Conte's plans, but he also reinvented himself and made a significant change to his on-field contribution.

Seemingly overnight, the former Crystal Palace man went from being an erratic forward to an effective wing-back, and a key figure in the Italian coach's 3-4-3 formation.

"I could see his potential from the first days of the summer training camp," Conte told Gazzetta dello Sport.

"Moses has important qualities: technique, physical strength, the ability to cover 70 metres of the pitch. I find it incredible that someone like him has been underestimated."

Indeed, after being handed an unexpected brief in a deeper role, Moses didn't look back, and was a key figure as the Blues racked up 13 consecutive victories - 39 points which transformed their season.

Beyond his contributions at club level, he was also influential as Nigeria qualified for the 2018 World Cup after escaping from the Group of Death during Africa's qualification campaign.

Restored to a more offensive role, the forward followed up his two-goal showing against Algeria in November 2016 with a magnificent display - and another goal - as the Super Eagles smashed Cameroon 4-0 in September 2017.

There were few Nigerian players who were more influential than Moses as the West African giants secured their spot at this summer's football showpiece in Russia.

He stands unparalleled as Nigeria's top performer during 2017, and on Monday night at the NFF's inaugural awards do, expect him to add another accolade to his excellent recent achievements.


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