League leaders, Plateau United produced their very first VAT Wonder Goal award winner in Emmanuel Odafe who narrowly beat Nojeem Raji of Sunshine Stars in one of the tight races witnessed since the award was re-introduced by the League Management Company (LMC) at the start of the second stanza of the 2016/17 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).
On the two voting platforms (Twitter and the NPFL official website), Odafe had stiff contests with each of the other two nominees, narrowly defeating Raji with five votes on the Twitter poll while on the website poll; he tied with El-Kanemi Warriors’ Tchoanfine Pade with 15 votes apiece.
The Plateau United forward polled combined votes of 77 to edge Raji who secured 66 votes and Pade whose combined total stood at 36.
The VAT Wonder Goal of Matchday 32 had all three nominated players scoring off headers. Odafe connected a powerful header from a free kick in their match against Shooting Stars in the 15th minute. Raji in Bauchi had jumped highest to head in Sunshine Stars’ only goal in their 2-1 loss to hosts, Wikki Tourists while Pade headed in El-Kanemi’s solitary strike in their 1-0 defeat of Akwa United.
Odafe thus becomes the 13th VAT Wonder Goal award winner and with it, the N150,000 cash prize half of which will be donated to a charity the player will nominate from within the state where the club is based.
The VAT Wonder Goal is awarded to the player whose goal is adjudged the most outstanding by fans who participate in online polls set up by the LMC on the NPFL website and Twitter handle. It is a social investment asset initiated to deepen club and community engagement through charity works. The award is supported by the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) which adopts football as a platform to enlighten citizens on their civic obligations to pay tax.
Past winners include Ayo Saka (Rivers United), Friday Ubong (Akwa United), Ochowechi Salefu (Remo Stars) and Pascal Seka (FC Ifeanyiubah). Others are Ahmed Usman (Wikki Tourists), Wasiu Alalade (ABS), Rabiu Ali (Kano Pillars), Sani Abbani (Gombe United) and Victor Chidume of Remo Stars. The rest are Shedrack Asiegbu of Abia Warriors, Emeka Ogbugh of Rivers United and Ikechukwu Ibenegbu of Enyimba International.