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Africa Cup of Nations

Afcon 2019: Picking the Dream Team of Round Two

06:40 IST 01/07/2019
Kenneth Omeruo - Nigeria vs. Guinea
Who were the Nations Cup’s star performers during the second round of fixtures?

  • Mohamed El-Shenawy of Egypt in action during the International Friendly between Egypt and Greece at the Letzigrund Stadium on March 27, 2018

    Mohamed El-Shenawy

    An underrated performance from the Egypt stopper, who made a series of fine stops to keep the Democratic Republic of Congo at bay as they Pharaohs made it two wins out of two. 

    Other players stole the headlines, but El-Shenawy organised his defence well and kept Tresor Mputu, Cedric Bakambu and Elia Meschak at bay.

  • Kenneth Omeruo - Nigeria vs. Guinea

    Kenneth Omeruo

    The Nigeria defender continued his fine comeback to form with the winner as Nigeria defeated Guinea 1-0 in Alexandria to become the first team to progress to the knockout stages.

    The Chelsea centre-back has had to watch on during Gernot Rohr’s tenure as the Oyinbo Wall have held down the central defensive positions, but repaid the coach’s faith after being given the nod ahead of William Troost-Ekong.

  • Thulani Hlatshwayo Bafana Bafana v Libya, September 2018

    Thulani Hlatshwayo

    While fans back home have been disappointed with Bafana’s lack of creativity and coherent attacking approach during their victory over Namibia, it was hart to fault their defensive display.

    Without Dean Furman, the defence risked being more exposed, but Hlatshwayo and his partner Buhle Mkhwanazi were equal to Brave Warriors.

    Hlatshwayo, in particular, deserves credit for neutralising fancied Namibia striker Benson Shilongo, and should relish the prospect of facing Morocco in Bafana’s next game.

  • Morocco's defender Romain Saiss (R) passes the ball as he is marked by Namibia's forward Peter Shalulile during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations

    Romain Saiss

    It was a resolute display at the back by Saiss, who effectively silenced Jonathan Kodjia and the Ivorians’ multi-talented supporting cast, and the Wolves defender is fully justifying Herve Renard’s decision to play him ahead of Manuel Da Costa.

    An early clearance off the line set the tone for a focused, alert, commanding display, and Saiss underpinned a fine Morocco performance.

  • Nordin Amrabat Morocco 2019

    Nordin Amrabat

    The wideman was named as Caf’s Man of the Match following Morocco’s victory over Ivory Coast, after enjoying a sensational performance on the left-back.

    He got the better of Serge Aurier during the early stages with his tenacity and direct running, and dovetailed well with Youssef En-Nesyri.

    He contributed the assist for En-Nesyri’s winner before limping off with an injury, and remains an unheralded weapon in this Atlas Lions side.

  • Mali's midfielder Diadie Samassekou is marked by Mauritania's midfielder El Hacen EL Id during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations

    Diadie Samassekou

    Tunisia are struggling at this Nations Cup, but some of the credit for their failure to beat Mali must go to the Eagles defensive midfielder Diadie Samassekou.

    He demonstrated the kind of performance to prove why he’s one of the most sought-after players in the African game right now, running the show in midfield and opening the scoring on 60 minutes.

    The 23-year-old created two goalscoring opportunities for his teammates, and made more tackles and interceptions than any other Mali player.

  • South Africa v Namibia - Bongani Zungu - June 2019

    Bongani Zungu

    Provided a rare spark of class for Stuart Baxter’s South Africa as they sneaked past Namibia to breathe life into their Afcon campaign.

    The France-based midfielder scored the only goal of the game to settle a cagey derby, repaying Baxter’s decision to give him more influence in the heart of the park.

  • Ahmed Elmohamady

    Ahmed Elmohamady

    A tireless performance by the ageless wideman as Egypt beat the DRC in Cairo, with Elmohamady dominating the right flank.

    He was involved in much of the Pharaohs’ build-up play, and swung in several testing crosses to trouble the Leopards’ backline.

    The experienced full-back will be a key element of this Egypt team if they’re to go the distance on home soil.

  • Youcef Belaili Algeria 06272019

    Youcef Belaili

    Despite not enjoying the status of some of his Europe-based teammates, Belaili was the star performer for Algeria as they dispatched Senegal in one of the week’s heavyweight clashes.

    He settled the contest with a powerful finish—demonstrating the kind of quality that took Esperance to the Caf Champions League final—and is holding his own alongside the likes of Riyad Mahrez, Sofiane Feghouli et al.

  • Michael Olunga of Harambee Stars and Kenya.

    Michael Olunga

    Kenya appeared to be bound for elimination after falling behind twice against Tanzania—in the sixth and the 40th minute—but had Michael Olunga to thank for securing victory in the East African Derby.

    The powerful striker was a handful for the Taifa Stars centre-backs all game, and net a brace as well as hitting the woodwork.

    He cancelled out Simon Msuva’s opener in the 39th minute, and then struck a delightful 80th-minute winner to boost Kenya’s hopes of progress.

  • Morocco's forward Youssef En-Nesyri celebrates after scoring during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations

    Youssef En-Nesyri

    Renard’s Morocco might finally have found the solution to their problem striking position in En-Nesyri, who led the line with aplomb against the Elephants.

    He scored the only goal of the game—a fine finish after excellent work from Amrabat—and the striker could have had plenty more, having taken six shots during the duration of the contest.

    En-Nesyri was a threat in the air, and showcased the pace to go in behind and troubled the Ivorian centre-backs.