For the year 2012, Goal.com will be picking the best African players and teams based on their performances during the course of the year in different competitionsThe year 2012 was particularly rich in football, commencing with the Africa Cup of Nations held in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, where we relished great moments of action and awe. The Caf Champions League and the Confederation Cup as well as the qualifying campaign for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations entertained millions of fans across the continent. However, the greatest centre of attraction was following the different European leagues were many African professionals ply their trade.
Goal.com takes a look at the performances of a selection of players in the above events and the teams that stood out from others.
|African Player of the Year | Didier Drogba
Yaya Toure (Cote D’Ivoire & Manchester City)
The newly-crowned African Footballer of the Year was more visible at club level than with his national team Cote D’Ivoire during the year. The fact that he remains one of the most influential players at Etihad Stadium with Manchester City, who are current champions of the most famous football league in the world, proves that he is one of Africa’s best expatriates in Europe. The 27-year-old midfielder had been a regular with his side, playing almost all their games in different competitions during the year.
Christopher Katongo (Zambia & Henan Construction)
Christopher Katongo was one of the players that held our attention in 2012. Beside his striking skills, the 30-year-old captained Zambia with calmness and inspiration to reach the final of the 2012 Afcon, winning their first title against the highly-rated Ivorian team. He also scored three goals of his own in the tournament, becoming one of the seven top scorers of the showpiece as well as pairing with Didier Drogba upfront in team of the tournament.
Demba Ba (Senegal & Newcastle)
Despite their collective poor showing at the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, where they failed to progress from the group stage, Senegal’s Demba Ba is one of the few players from the Teranga Lions fold that has kept his head above water, struggling to remain in the spotlight mostly at club level in England. He ended the year as a runner up in the top scorer chart of the Premier League with 13 goals. He is one of the league’s best forwards behind Robin van Persie, Carlos Tevez, Wayne Rooney and Fernando Torres, according to EA Sports Player Performance Index.
|African Team of the Year | Cote D'Ivoire
Cote D’Ivoire maintained their number one spot as best team of the continent every month throughout the year 2012, thanks to the brilliant stars that make up the outfit and their convincing performances during the year both in official competitions and friendly matches. They finished the year at number 14 on the Fifa monthly ranking with 995 points ahead of top sides such as Mexico, Uruguay, Brazil and France.
Though, the Elephants failed to lift the 2012 Afcon trophy, putting off the chance to crown their long search for another continental title. However, the group was able to keep its sharp form and did not lose any game since their loss to Zambia.
Despite the arrival of a rather naïve coach Sabri Lamouchi, who had never managed any team in the past, the Elephants seem not to have lost steam and were able to stun teams like Russia to a 1-1 draw at home in Moscow and crushed Austria 3-0 in Linz. The Ivorians remain the side to beat at the upcoming showpiece in South Africa.
Zambia were the team of the year for 2012 following their exhilarating campaign at the Africa Cup of Nations held in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, where they overwhelmed big guns like Senegal, Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire to clinch their first title in the competition. Ranked below a number of teams that took part in the tournament, the Chipolopolo soon became the centre of attraction in the course of the competition due to their cohesive play pattern. However, few pundits believed they could survive the Ivorian challenge in the final, which they eventually did with honour and pride.Algeria
After the 2010 Fifa World Cup, Algeria faded into oblivion, failing to qualify for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations. However, the arrival of former Cote D’Ivoire coach Vahid Halilhodzic brought some required reform that quickened the outfit. The Fennec Foxes now boast a much younger and competitive set up, losing only two of their eight previous games and finishing the year at 19th on the Fifa Rankings with 887 points and the second best tally in Africa after Cote D’Ivoire.
Cape Verde were the sensation of the latter part of 2012 following their stunning triumph over continental giants Cameroon in the 2013 Afcon qualifiers to book their place for the first time at the competition. The Blue Sharks are made up of vibrant, youthful and dauntless players who have built for themselves an overnight formidable status, with their striking duo Ryan Mendes and Djaniny finishing the 2013 Afcon qualifying campaign among the top scorers.
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