FIFA Awards: Walid Regragui Misses Out As Lionel Messi Backs Another Trophy

By Sonita Ngunyi Nwohtazie

Regragui made history during the Qatar World Cup as the first African coach to take a team into the World Cup semi-finals

BUEA, March 1 – Morocco’s Walid Regragui, who carried the Atlas Lions to the Semifinal of the FIFA Qatar World Cup missed out on the FIFA Best Coach Award as World Cup champion Lionel Messi bagged another major individual trophy.

Regregui missed out on Lionel Scaloni of Argentina but his exploits during the FIFA Qatar World Cup will live long in the memories of Africans. “We came up against a great Portugal team. We’re drawing on all we have; we still have guys injured. I told the guys before the match we had to write history for Africa. I’m very, very happy,” Regragui told France’s TF1.

“Africa is back on the map of football today,” he said. “We had the mentality. We knew we could make history for Africa. “We had the right attitude for our people, for us, for Africa. It is always difficult for us African coaches. You don’t think we can handle such teams tactically.”

Lionel Messi who plays for Paris Saint Germaine was voted FIFA the Best Male player while Alexia Putellas who plays for Barcelona equally won the best female player as the seventh edition of the FIFA awards took place on February 27, 2023, in Paris, France.

Lionel Messi won his second FIFA Best honour after a magnificent performance during the just-ended FIFA Qatar World Cup. The voting criteria centred on the performances between August 2021 and December 2022, including the FIFA men’s World Cup for the male category while the women’s awards were based on the following competitions organized between August 2021 to July 2022.

Adding to his best player of the 2022 FIFA Qatar World Cup as his side emerged champions, with Messi claiming the trophy he had been craving. “ It is a pleasure to be back here, I want to thank my teammates for the collective efforts,” Messi acknowledges his teammates.

The Argentina side won several trophies as Lionel Scaloni and Martinez picked up the best coach and goalkeeper awards. “We are representing our teammates because these awards are partly theirs and it is recognition for the group and what we did because this year has been crazy for me to fulfil my dreams of winning the world cup after plenty of batting and insisting. In the end, it came and it’s the greatest thing that has happened to me in my career with few players getting to do it by winning the World cup and I thank God I was able to do it,” Martinez said.

Meanwhile, in the women’s category, Alexia Putellas who plays for Barcelona won her second FIFA Women’s Best Player of the year title with fifty points, though she lost the UEFA Champions League final.

“Thanks a lot to those people who have been there every day during my whole life. Thanks to them I am who I am and I am made up of bits of everyone who has come across along the way to make me go this far,” Alexia said.

Aside from Alexia in the women’s category, England’s Mary Earps won the best goalkeeper while Sarina Wiegman received the best coach honour as she led England to their first Euro trophy in 2022.

Argentina also backed the home fans award to cement their trophy this year. With the historic performance staged at the African side Morocco’s Achraf Hakimi was among the FIFA 11 Best players including the highest goal scorer of the 2022 FIFA World cup Kylian Mbappe, Karim Benzema and a host of others. For the first time since 2007, Cristiano Ronaldo was not nominated amongst the best eleven players.


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