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Goal.com selects the best 11 players of the tournament as Zambia claimed their first continental crown at Cote d'Ivoire's expense

Africa Cup Of Nations

Team of the

Tournament

Afcon 2012 Home Page


GOALKEEPER

Kennedy MWEENE
Zambia

Even though Cote d'Ivoire lost the Afcon without having conceded a goal in regular time thanks largely to the work of Boubacar Barry, the Elephants goalkeeper was eclipsed in the final by Kennedy Mweene's penalty kick heroics. The shot-stopper psyched out Didier Drogba to get his team into the shootout in the first place and proceeded to score his penalty and stop two, one of which was harshly forced to be retaken. Add to that a crucial save against Asamoah Gyan in the semi-final and there isn't much room for discussion left as to who deserves this more.
DEFENDERS

Jean-Jacques GOSSO
Cote d'Ivoire


Kolo TOURE
Cote d'Ivoire


John MENSAH
Ghana


Stoppila SUNZU
Zambia

Kolo Toure was excellent throughout the competition, marshalling the Ivorian defence and forming a practically unshakeable partnership with Souleymane Bamba. If it wasn't for Kolo, Zambia might have nabbed a winner in regulation time in Sunday's final. Meanwhile, another thriving element of the Elephants' back line was their right-back Jean-Jacques Gosso who defended well and made probing runs up and down his flank to keep opponents honest.

While Ghana's tournament was stopped short by the Chipolopolo, John Mensah walked away from the Black Stars campaign with his image untarnished. The west African side's captain scored two crucial goals for his country in the competition and wasn't afraid to sacrifice himself for his team in the opener against Botswana when the Zebras came close to hitting a late equaliser. Finally, Stopilla Sunzu rounds out the back-four with his commanding performances and incredible reading of the game, helping the Chipolopolo to the Afcon title by keeping things tight at the back.

MIDFIELDERS

Nathan SINKALA
Zambia


Seydou KEITA
Mali


Youssef MSAKNI
Tunisia

For a new addition to the national team, it is fair to say that Nathan Sinkala is fitting in quite nicely into the Zambian starting XI. Despite his inexperience, the 20-year-old played an important role in the Copper Bullets' incredible run to their first Afcon trophy. His coach, Herve Renard was the first to recognise his importance and is recommending him to European clubs.

Another player who may be plying his trade in Europe soon enough is the irrepressible Youssef Msakni, who was undoubtedly Tunisia's man of the tournament. The pacey Esperance winger exhibited some of the finest dribbling on his way to scoring two stunning goals and creating countless opportunities for his team-mates.

Mali coach Alain Giresse correctly described Seydou Keita as a reference for Mali prior to their loss against Cote d'Ivoire and it was easy to see why at this tournament. He is the glue that holds the Mali squad together both on and off the field and thoroughly deserved his third-place medal.

FORWARDS

Chris KATONGO
Zambia


Pierre AUBAMEYANG
Gabon


Didier DROGBA
Cote d'Ivoire

Picking between Chris Katongo and his strike partner, Emmanuel Mayuka, was a toss-up considering they both had three goals at the tournament and were integral to the Chipolopolo success. But the former gets the edge based on seniority and a stronger work-rate off the ball. Katongo came close to wrapping up the final just before the game went to extra time but goalkeeper Barry denied him. He also converted the first spot-kick for his country in the shootout. Meanwhile, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was just as important for the Panthers, as he waltzed past defenders and finished as joint top scorer with three goals, emerging as one of the surprises of the tournament.

Some might frown at the choice of Didier Drogba considering he missed two penalties in the tournament, including one that probably would have claimed the title. But he deserves to be in the Team of a Tournament as a testament to his leadership to one of the hardest working Cote d'Ivoire sides we've seen in a long time. Furthermore, the Chelsea man showed character after both penalty misses, scoring twice against Equatorial Guinea after his spot-kick mistake, and burying his second effort from the spot against Mweene in the shoot-out. It won't be much consolation to him but he was the embodiment of class, and arguably the best striker at the tournament even though things didn't go his way in the end. That's football.
 

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