Pele, Eto'o, Aboutrika, Okocha - The greatest Africa Cup of Nations XI of the last three decades picks the best performers to have taken part in the Africa Cup of Nations tournament over the last three decades


Africa Cup of Nations XI

Of The Last 30 Years



Egypt won three consecutive Africa Cup of Nations tournaments from 2006 to 2010, with Essam El-Hadari playing a crucial role between the posts. His leadership from the back was immense, and he always seemed to come up with the goods when put under pressure. The Pharaohs custodian stands head and shoulders above all others as the best ever goalkeeper to have played in Afcon competitions.


Rigobert SONG


Noureddine NAYBET

There have been many great defenders who have written their names into Afcon history, but four stand out as players who have given the biggest contributions to their respective national teams. Samuel Kuffour had an outstanding career with Ghana. The three-time Ghana Footballer of the Year was a solid presence for the Black Stars at four Afcon tournaments, leading his troops into battle and performing admirably on most occasions. Rigobert Song was a shining light for the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, winning two Nations Cups in 2000 and 2002 thanks in no small part to his solid defending and leadership skills. He was voted the Most Valuable Player in 2002, an accolade not often given to defenders.

Wael Gomaa
has been Egypt's defensive linchpin for the last decade, winning three Afcon titles and making sure that opponents struggled to score against the Pharaohs thanks to his incredible consistency at the back. Noureddine Naybet would slot comfortably into the All-Time XI due to his reputation as one of Africa's best ever defenders, displaying his abilities on the continental stage on many occasions before retiring at the end of the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations finals.



Egyptian stalwart Ahmed Hassan has been an incredible performer in the Afcon tournaments, of which he has taken part in eight, winning three consecutive titles from 2006 to 2010 to add to his first in 1998. The living legend was named the Most Valuable Player in the 2006 and 2010 editions. He could not be omitted from this Greatest XI, and is even qualified to captain the side on account of his experience. Hassan is the most capped male footballer in history (along with retired Saudi Arabia goalkeeper Mohamed Al Deayea) with 184 appearances for Egypt.

'Jay Jay' OKOCHA


The Super Eagle that made the most of his appearances in the various Afcon tournaments was 'Jay Jay' Okocha, winning the 1994 edition while coming second once and third on two other occasions. He netted seven goals in the various Afcon finals, while top scoring alongside four other players and being named in the 2004 Team of the Tournament. Mohamed Aboutrika is another Egyptian who has been a consistent performer in Nations Cup history. The attacking midfielder was a key player in the 2006, 2008 and 2010 Afcon title victories, converting the decisive penalty in the 2006 final shootout, and scoring the winning goal to hand Egypt the 2008 Afcon crown.


Abedi PELE

Samuel ETO'O

Kalusha BWALYA
Legendary Ghanaian striker Abedi Pele made his first appearance at the 1982 Afcon in Libya, where he helped his team to victory and went on to play in Nations Cups for 16 more years, earning the appearance record at the Afcon. The former Marseille player had an amazing 1992 competition, captaining his side to a second-place finish while scoring three incredible goals for the Black Stars. He scored three more at the 1996 edition, leading Ghana to the semi-finals of the tournament. Samuel Eto'o is yet another name that stands out in this selection, having taken part in six finals and winning two of them. The Indomitable Lion is the all-time leading scorer in the history of the Afcon, with 18 goals. He was the top marksman at the tournament in the 2006 and 2008 editions, and many would consider him the most influential player to have taken part in Afcon competitions.

Finally, former Zambia striker Kalusha Bwalya led his team to second place at the 1994 Afcon, only a few months after losing most of their first team in a plane crash. He then helped the Chipolopolo to a third-place finish two years later in South Africa, where he won the Golden Boot award. Bwalya played in five Afcon tournaments.