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African All Stars

Afcon: Picking a pre-Africa Cup of Nations Dream Team

17:03 GMT+3 12/06/2019
Africa Cup of Nations 2019 XI
Ahead of the 2019 Nations Cup, Goal pick our Dream Team of African talent heading to Egypt

  • Andre Onana Ajax

    Andre Onana

    The Cameroon stopper delivered a series of outstanding performances for Ajax en route to the Champions League semi-finals this term, and was unlucky to be on the losing side after making a series of fine stops in the dramatic defeat by Tottenham Hotspur.

    It’s easy to see why Barcelona are keen on his services, with Onana having underpinned Ajax’s domestic double-winning campaign.

    He’ll be a key man between the sticks for Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations, having seen off his cousin Fabrice Ondoa to cement himself as the first-choice.

  • Noussair Mazraoui Ajax 2018-19

    Noussair Mazraoui

    The right-back has caught the eye this term, building on his handful of appearances last season to establish himself as a key player for Ajax.

    Like Onana, he won the Dutch Cup and the Eredivisie, and has demonstrated his aptitude for the big games during the Amsterdam giants’ Champions League run.

    The versatile Mazraoui has the technical quality to be a major asset to Herve Renard’s Atlas Lions at the Afcon, and has reportedly been watched by Arsenal and Liverpool.

  • Kalidou Koulibaly Napoli 2018-19

    Kalidou Koulibaly

    Africa’s best centre-back in the world today, Koulibaly’s Champions League campaign may have ended in the group stage, but he nonetheless impressed during a series of commanding displays.

    He helped the Partenopei keep clean sheets against Red Star Belgrade and Liverpool, and Manchester United are just one major club linked to the defender’s signature this summer.

    Domestically, he’s again been among Serie A’s best in his position, making decisive contributions and helping Napoli keep the third best defensive record in the division.

    Senegal's centre-backs-with Koulibaly and Salif Sane-can be one of the strongest in the tournament.

  • Achraf Hakimi Morocco Spain World Cup 2018 250618

    Achraf Hakimi

    Hakimi was already a Champions League winner when he moved to Borussia Dortmund on loan last summer, but 2018-19 was his true full season as a senior pro, and as a key player within a first team.

    He made 21 appearances for BVB—playing a key role in their title challenge—before injury laid him out towards the end of the campaign.

    Hakimi demonstrated that he’s one of the brightest young full-backs in the world game, and Herve Renard is clearly confident that he's primed to contribute at the Nations Cup, having included the youngster in Morocco's squad.

  • Riyad Mahrez Manchester City 2018-19

    Riyad Mahrez

    It was a mixed maiden season at Manchester City for Mahrez, although he did make a key contribution in the run-in, notably starting the Sky Blues' final Premier League match against Brighton & Hove Albion and the FA Cup final victory over Watford.

    Having had a limited involvement this term, Mahrez will be fresher than some of the other big names in the tournament, and expect the former Leicester City man to remind a few observers of his enduring quality in Egypt.

  • Wilfred Ndidi, Marcus Rashford

    Wilfred Ndidi

    Ndidi continues to be critically underrated despite another fine campaign in the Premier League. 

    He’s second only to Everton’s Idrissa Gueye in terms of tackles per game, and has been a consistently commanding presence in the heart of the Leicester City midfield.

    If he remains at the club—and there are rumours that he’ll move higher up the food chain—then he could be the key building block upon which Brendan Rodgers constructs his exciting new Foxes side.

    For Nigeria, he'll be a key presence as they look to enjoy a long run in this year's tournament.

  • Hakim Ziyech, Ajax

    Hakim Ziyech

    Anyone who wasn’t aware of the Morocco international’s quality before this season will definitely be under no illusion after his superb showings over the last year.

    Ziyech’s delicious curling effort against Spurs was his third UCL goal, and he also contributed assists in the first leg against Tottenham Hotspur and the second leg against Juventus, proving that he’s a man for the big occasion.

    Technically he’s superb, and he underpins that quality with an admirable work rate, attributes which have been critical to Ajax’s domestic double.

    In the Eredivisie, this season, he directly contributed 29 goals in 29 appearances, and has surely outgrown Dutch football.

    Could he inspire Morocco to the Afcon title this term?

     

  • Nicolas Pepe, Lille, 2018-19

    Nicolas Pepe

    The Ivorian hasn’t got the credit he deserved—at least outside France—for his magnificent campaign with LOSC Lille.

    He was influential in dragging Les Dogues away from the relegation zone last term, but no one could have predicted that he’d have inspired the Northern side to Champions League qualification.

    They were Paris Saint-Germain’s closest challengers this season, with Pepe scoring 22 and contributing 11 assists during a sensational campaign.

    He’ll doubtless leave Lille this summer, but his performances—including two assists and a goal in a 5-1 demolition of PSG—will live long in the memory.

    His next mission is to ensure that Ivory Coast don't regret leaving Gervinho at home this summer.

  • Sadio Mane Liverpool

    Sadio Mane

    Mane finally enjoyed a season uninterrupted by injury or suspension, and was unfortunate not to end the year with a Premier League winner’s medal.

    He netted 22 goals to win the Golden Boot, and dovetailed superbly with Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, notably stepping up when the Egyptian forward had a slump in form.

    The Senegal international has netted against Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United in the league this term, reaffirming his status as a truly big-game player, and was sublime as Bayern Munich were eliminated in the Champions League before making a decisive early intervention gave the Reds the lead against Tottenham Hotspur in the final.

  • Moussa Marega Porto 2018-19

    Moussa Marega

    Despite being linked with a move to the Premier League last summer, Marega remained at FC Porto, and duly set about terrorising defences domestically and in Europe.

    He scored six in nine in the Champions League, and joined an elite Champions League club including Cristiano Ronaldo, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Edinson Cavani when he netted in six consecutive games in the competition.

    The Mali international also hit 11 in the Portuguese top flight this term, and could be a dark horse for the Africa Cup of Nations Golden Boot.

  • Mohamed Salah Liverpool 2018-19

    Mohamed Salah

    Despite an eight-game goalless run, Salah remains Africa’s outstanding talent in the Premier League, following another fine campaign for Jurgen Klopp’s side.

    He hasn’t quite hit the heights of last term, when he scored 32 and contributed a further 10 assists, but 30 goal contributions this season—including 22 scored himself—is still an excellent return.

    When Salah has turned it on this year, defences have been unable to cope with him; witness his hat-trick away at Bournemouth, or the showing at Wolverhampton Wanderers in December, when he almost single-handedly dispatched Nuno Espirito Santo’s side.

    The attacker has been influential in the Reds’ run to the brink of the Premier League title, and even though they did fall short, he made amends with a UCL success.