The year 2018 has just gone by and football actions will resume from day one of 2019 but who were the African stars who did us proud in the just ended year in European leagues and for their national teams.
Newslegend.co.ng’s IZUCHUKWU OKOSI writing for All Nigeria Soccer presents the website’s African Team of the Year.
GOAL : Andre Onana
There were few African goalkeepers who caught the attention in 2018 like Mounir El Kajoui of Numancia and Morocco but Onana edges it here due to his great form for Ajax who are second in the Dutch Eredevisie behind PSV.
Kajoui and his national team were eliminated in the group stages of the World Cup and his Spanish club aren’t just in the same class yet as Ajax.
In the calendar year 2018, Onana was in goal in 39 games for club and country and conceded 23 times in that period for Cameroon and Ajax.
DEFENCE : Benatia, Koulibaly, Wague
We go to the defence where African players stood out in their positions.
We have opted for a three man defence that consists of the trio of Medhi Benatia (Morocco), Kalilou Koulibaly (Senegal) and Moussa Wague (Senegal).
Benatia is the captain of the Moroccan national side and led them to the 2018 World Cup where they crashed out of the group stages like other African representatives.
But the Atlas Lions who lost Iran, Portugal and drew with Spain did the continent proud with their brand of attacking football, Benatia’s experience and leadership was influential in the team’s efforts in Russia.
Koulibaly who recently had racial issues at Napoli is a solid rock for club and country.
Wague became the youngest African goal scorer at the World Cup and his performance forced Barcelona to pay Belgian side KAS Eupen €3million for his services.
MIDFIELD : Ziyech, Ndidi, Mane, Partey, Musa
There are five players in our midfield, consisting of two wingbacks, two holding midfielders and an attacking midfielder.
Morocco’s Hakim Ziyech, one of his country’s best players at Russia 2018 and great asset to Eredivisie giants Ajax occupies the right side where he cuts infield with his left foot to devastating effect beating off ‘competition’ from Nigeria’s Alex Iwobi while another Super Eagle Ahmed Musa who scored the national team’s two goals in a 2-0 win over Iceland takes up the position at the opposing end.
Musa’s second goal in that World Cup Group D game was a contender for goal of the tournament.
Nigeria’s Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester) and Ghana’s Thomas Partey (Atletico Madrid) man the holding midfield roles while Senegal and Liverpool’s Sadio Mane gets the attacking midfield role.
ATTACK : Salah, Aubameyang
The duo of Mohamed Salah and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang who have been nominated for the African Footballer of the Year award with Sadio Mane to be announced on January 8 occupies our forward lines.
Salah has 13 league goals as at the time of this report and Aubameyang is on top of that section with 14 goals after New Year day’s 4-1 thumping of Fulham.