Following Samuel Chukwueze and Victor Osimhen’s failure to upstage Achraf Hakimi as the African Young Player of the Year, NationSport looks at the young Moroccan ascent to being named the continent’s best young player for the second successive year.
Injury apart, it has been a magnificent year for Hakimi, after he helped Dortmund maintain a title challenge last season, although he crashed out with the Atlas Lions in 2019 Africa Cup of Nations’ Round of 16.
Born in Madrid, Spain to parents of Moroccan descent, the 21-year-old joined Real Madrid when he was eight and made his first team debut on October 1 2017 in a 2–0 home win over Espanyol.
Hakimi, who plays mainly a right-back but also play as a left-back or winger, joined Borussia Dortmund on a two year loan deal from Real Madrid in 2018.
Hakimi has played in all Dortmund’s 26 games this season, including 17 times in the Bundesliga this season, scoring 2 goals.
The 2019 DFL-Super cup winner has racked up five assists in his last eight Bundesliga games as well as scoring braces against Slavia Prague and Inter Milan as Lucien Favre’s side squeezed through their Champions League group ahead of the Italian giants but behind Barcelona.
“I am very happy and proud to win this award and to be with great players and managers at this ceremony,” Hakimi said on Tuesday after receiving his award with his mother and sister present. “I have to enjoy it, keep working and thank my club, my family and my national team for their daily support.”
Hakimi chose to represent Morocco instead of Spain in international football, playing every minute of their 2018 World Cup campaign at left back as the Atlas Lions exited at the group stage and became the first Moroccan to win the Champions League when Real claimed the 2018 trophy.
But there are some that believes Hakimi does not deserve the award ahead of Osimhen, who has been lethal for Lille this season and scored 22 goals for Charleroi in Belgium and 10 Ligue 1 goals with Lille or Chukwueze, who was ninth on the Kopa Trophy list and was also listed for the golden boy award .
Nigeria U17 coach Manu Garba who is an authority on discovering young footballers is shocked Hakimi was picked and questioned CAF’s criteria on choosing the winner.
“Hakimi’s win is really strange,” Garba told NationSport. “What is the achievement of the young Moroccan player, the team he plays for and the criteria for being chosen as the CAF young player of the year award?” he asked.