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Written By Onyeka Daniel

It hasn’t been a really good start to the new season for Napoli and Nigerian striker, Victor Osimhen after winning the Scudetto from last season. The Partenopei have already sacked a coach, Rudi Garcia and replaced him with Walter Mazzarri and the there has been an improvement in performance.

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And while the results are still a little late in coming, the club continue to reap the rewards of their title winning campaign from last season. Osimhen was officially crowned as the Italian Footballers’ Association (AIC) Footballer of the Year after a marvellous season in front of goal for the club in the 2022/23 season.

The AIC awards, which began in 1968, include several notable accolades, including the team of the year, coach of the year, club of the year and goal of the season. After leading the line in the Partenopei’s first title-winning season in 33 years, Osimhen and his teammates were recognised across various categories on Monday evening.

The most prestigious award of the night and the last to be handed out is the Player of the Year, which have previously been awarded to the likes of Rafael Leao, Gianluigi Buffon, Cristiano Ronaldo, Andrea Prilo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Osimhen was selected as the 2023 winner largely thanks to his goalscoring contributions.


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During Napoli’s Scudetto-winning campaign, the Nigerian found the net on 26 occasions from 32 Serie A appearances. Despite a tougher start to the 2023-24 campaign and recent struggles with injury, Osimhen has continued his impressive goals-per-game ratio, with six from 10 after the 14th game week.

Napoli also dominated the AIC team of the year, with five players out of a possible 11 making the cut, while three representatives each from Inter and Milan complete the 2023 selection. The annual event also saw several awards being handed out, including the club of the year, coach of the year and goal of the season, which were scooped up by Napoli, Luciano Spalletti and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia this time around.

Another highlight is the team of the season, which brings together the best individual players from the calendar year gone by. The 2023 list Is set-up in a 4-3-3 formation, with all 11 players coming from just three clubs. Milan’s Mike Maignan was chosen in goal.

The back four comprising Napoli captain Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Bayern Munich’s summer acquisition Kim Min-jae, Champions League finalist Alessandro Bastoni and Theo Hernandez of Milan. The midfielders include two Nerazzurri regulars in Hakan Calhanoglu and Nicolo Barella, while Napoli’s Stanislav Lobotka also made the cut.

In attack, we have Milan’s Rafael Leao, as well as the 2022-23 Capocannoniere winner Osimhen and the Serie A MVP Kvaratskhelia. It should be recalled that Osimhen also got a high placing in the recent Ballon d’Or award that was won in a record 8th times by Lionel Messi.

Meanwhile…

Arrigo Sacchi is impressed by Inter‘s win over Napoli but feels the Nerazzurri must continue pressing high up the pitch because ‘anything can happen’ if they play as they did against Juventus. The Nerazzurri secured a statement win over title holders Napoli at the Stadio Maradona on Sunday, beating Walter Mazzarri’s side 3-0. “Mamma Mia! I had so much fun.

It was a match that reconciled the audience with football. Congratulations to all the performers, those who won and those who lost,” Sacchi told Gazzetta. “If Inter play as they did in Napoli, they are title favourites. However, anything can happen if they play as they did in Turin against Juventus. Juventus-Inter killed football in terms of amusement, while Napoli-Inter has ignited enthusiasm.”

Nevertheless, Napoli showed encouraging signs, especially in the early stages. “After 30 minutes, I wrote in my notebook: ‘Napoli are back.’ At that point, nobody would have predicted Inter would win so comfortably,” argued Sacchi. “This is why I say Napoli should not be discouraged. They must continue, maybe making some corrections in defence.” What was so impressive about Inter?

“The fact that they hit back blow-by-blow and, maybe for the first time this season, they pressed high up the pitch,” Sacchi replied. “The Nerazzurri played openly and for this reason, we saw an uncommon game for Italian football. Simone Inzaghi’s team showed quality, experience, pace and physicality and finally, I didn’t see five or six players in defence.” Inter have restored their leadership in Serie A, moving two points clear of Juventus at the top of the table.

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The Old Lady had beaten Monza away on Friday, scoring the winner with Federico Gatti in the stoppages one minute after conceding an equaliser. “Juventus’ style is based on solid defence and counter-attacks and they are improving. Massimiliano Allegri’s men have iron will and they showed it against Monza,” noted Sacchi. “They never give up and they don’t play in European competitions. It’s a good advantage.” How about Milan? Are they still involved in the title race?

“They are six points below Inter, not a huge gap. However, the Rossoneri must find balance on the pitch and become a team. If they manage to do so, they can have their say.” What’s the biggest risk Inter run now? “Feeling they have arrived. It’s a risk after performances like the one in Naples,” admitted the ex-Milan and Italy boss.

“The Nerazzurri must consider this victory [against Napoli] as a starting point. If they continue like this, Inzaghi will make them even more courageous and Inter will have a chance at a European level. Now, they must continue without thinking they are phenomenons.” The Nerazzurri host Udinese at the Stadio Meazza in their next Serie A game on Saturday, December 9, while Juventus and Napoli will meet at the Allianz Stadium in Turin on Friday, December 8.

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