Afcon: Picking a combined Dream Team from each Nations Cup group

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Who would make a dream team consisting of the teams in each Africa Cup of Nations group?

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    Group A

    Denis Onyango; Ahmed Elmohamady, Ahmed Hegazy, Marcel Tisserand, Arthur Masuaku; Mohamed Elneny, Marvelous Nakambia; Trezeguet, Tresor Mputu, Mohamed Salah; Cedric Bakambu

     

    This team is a spread of all four sides in the group, with Onyango representing Uganda between the sticks, and Nakamba in the heart of the midfield ahead of the likes of Chancel Mbemba, Youssouf Mulumbu or Tarek Hamed.

    Khama Billiat just missed out, with Mputu taking his place as the Africa-based star in a fearsome attacking unit.

    Despite being hailed as favourites for the title, Egypt only have five representatives in this team, just one more than the DRC.

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    Group B

    Aly Keita; Abdullahi Shehu, William Troost-Ekong, Kenneth Omeruo, Issiaga Sylla; Wilfred Ndidi, John Obi Mikel, Naby Keita; Alex Iwobi, Odion Ighalo, Fiston Abdul Razak

     

    Unsurprisingly, our Group B dream team is dominated by Nigeria, who can count themselves lucky with their first round draw. 

    Considering the uncertainty surrounding the Super Eagles’ starting goalkeeper, we’ve plumped for Guinea’s Keita between the sticks, with Sylla edging into left-back ahead of Jamilu Collins.

    Keita—in for Oghenekaro Etebo—was a shoo-in for Guinea, even if doubts about his fitness persist.

    Ahmed Musa, Sadio Berahino and Francois Kamano were considered for a starting berth alongside Ighalo, but we ultimately opted for Burundi’s Fiston, who could be one of the breakout stars of the tournament.

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    Group C

    Edouard Mendy; Youcef Atal, Salif Sane, Kalidou Koulibaly, Youssouf Sabaly; Idrissa Gueye; Riyad Mahrez, Yacine Brahimi, Sadio Mane; Baghdad Bounedjah, Mbaye Diagne

     

    Such is the strength in depth of Algeria and Senegal—two of the genuine contenders for the title—that there’s no representation in this team for either Kenya or Tanzania.

    Victor Wanyama was squeezed out of a midfield role by Gueye, who represents a much more effective and efficient midfield option, while Mbwana Samatta and Simon Msuva will have to settle for substitute roles.

    Even that wouldn’t be a given considering the likes of Aissa Mandi, Ismael Bennacer, Sofiane Feghouli, Youcef Belaili, Ismaila Sarr, Keita Balde and M’Baye Niang were all deemed surplus to requirements.

    Senegal have seven representatives in the starting XI to Algeria’s four.

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    Group D

    Yassine Bounou; Noussair Mazraoui, Medhi Benatia, Romain Saiss, Achraf Hakimi; Franck Kessie, Max-Alain Gradel, Jean Michael Seri; Nicolas Pepe, Wilfried Zaha, Hakim Ziyech

     

    This team is split almost in half, with an all-Moroccan defence supporting an all Ivorian attacking unit.

    The only exception is Atlas Lions’ star man Ziyech, who couldn’t be overlooked after his mesmeric displays for Ajax in the Eredivisie and the Champions League this season.

    While he struggled at the World Cup, could the Dutch-born attacker be one of the stars of the tournament this time around.

    Had Serge Aurier been at his best, he might have ousted Mazroui from the right-back berth, while Jean-Philippe Gbamin and Wilfried Kanon were unfortunate to miss out in defence.

    Ibrahim Sangare, Nordin Amrabat and Younes Belhanda would make for a fearsome bench.

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    Group E

    Farouk Ben Mustapha; Rami Bedoui, Dylan Bronn, Bastos; Anice Badri, Diadie Samassekou, Amadou Haidara, Ferjani Sassi, Naim Sliti; Wahbi Khazri; Moussa Marega

     

    There’s a predictable Tunisian dominance here, even though Mali do have three representatives and Angola have one in centre-back Bastos.

    The prospect of the likes of Sliti, Khazri and Sassi in support of Marega—fresh from a campaign terrorising defences in Portugal—is mouth-watering, and he gets a spot in the starting XI at the expense of Youssef Msakni.

    There’s no place for Southampton new boy Moussa Djenepo, or any of Mauritania’s squad.

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    Group F

    Andre Onana; Collins Fai, Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui, Jonathan Mensah, Ambroise Oyongo; Thomas Partey, Mubarak Wakaso; Christian Bassogog, Andre Ayew, Christian Atsu, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting

     

    Two of the 2017 semi-finalists contribute all eleven players to our Group F dream team, with no place for anyone from Benin or Guinea-Bissau.

    There’s an even split among outfield player—five for each continental giant—with Cameroon stopper Onana getting in ahead of Richard Ofori.

    Jordan Ayew and Asamoah Gyan miss out following underwhelming seasons, while there was no place for old-timer Stephane Sessegnon, who remains influential even though his best days are behind him.