William Troost-Ekong has been voted as the most valuable player (MVP) of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) despite Nigeria losing the final 1-2 to the host of the tournament Cote d’Ivoire, OwnGoalNigeria.com reports.
Ekong who scored Nigeria’s lone goal in the final to take his tally at the tournament to three goals after scoring two penalties during the course of the tournament was announced as the best player shortly after the final.
The PAOK defender stood out for the Super Eagles after making his way back into the team after falling out of favour for over a year. He is the MVP of the AFCON seven years after he was told by former Super Eagles coach Sunday Oliseh that he can’t survive African football.
In an interview back in 2018, the PAOK defender revealed how Oliseh dismissed his talent and that of Leon Balogun faulting their orientation in Europe as part of why they can’t survive playing football at international level in Africa.
“My partner at centre-back [new Brighton signing Leon Balogun] is half-German, half-Nigerian, so he is the same as me”, he told the UK Telegraph in 2018.
“After a game, he [Oliseh] said we were too soft to play against African players. “I have played against African strikers since then and no one has bullied me. I have proven my point.
” That upset me because one of my traits as a player is that I am someone who does not back away from anyone. I am not the most skilful, but I know what I am good at.
“I think that’s part of being from different countries, different cultures. It’s not nice when people try to use that against you.
“I identify myself as being Nigerian as well, and I feel at home in the team. Not once have I ever looked around and thought ‘this is not for me’. But it spurred me on”, he rounded up saying.
The award will no doubt make Oliseh, a former captain of the Super Eagles to feel some remorse over his harsh criticism of the 30 year old defender over the fact that he wasn’t born in Africa.