Revealed: Goal’s Team of the 2018 African Nations Championship

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Which African All-Stars have made Goal’s Dream XI of the 2018 African Nations Championship

  1. #1 Goalkeeper: Ikechukwu Ezenwa

    Before injury curtailed his participation in the semi-final against Sudan, Ezenwa had conceded just twice during the competition, keeping clean sheets against both Rwanda and Libya. His finest hour came in Nigeria’s come-from-behind extra-time victory over Angola, as he made a series of outstanding stops—with the Super Eagles trailing 1-0—to keep Salisu Yusuf’s side in the game. He was duly rewarded with the Man of the Match prize.

  2. #2 Left-Back: Fackson Kapumbu

    Zambia ultimately fell by the wayside at the CHAN, slipping to a 1-0 defeat by Sudan in the quarter finals, but before that, had been among the outstanding sides of the group stage. Kapumbu’s performances in Group B see him just pip Abdelilah Jbria to the left-back berth, as the ZESCO United man represented a powerful presence at the back, while he also got forward adventurously and proactively. Set-piece delivery was also astute, and he found the net—albeit in fortuitous fashion—against Uganda.

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    #3 Centre-back: Jawad El Yamiq

    El Yamiq earned a move to Genoa on transfer deadline day, and after watching the centre-back at the CHAN, you sense that the Serie A side may have got their hands on a top-class stopper. He edges Nayef Aguerd out of this side following a series of commanding displays, marrying bravery with an excellent reading of the game. 

  4. #4 Centre-back: Badr Benoun

    Morocco’s skipper was a tenacious and committed presence throughout the campaign, but appeared to particularly excel—naturally—when paired with his club teammate El Yamiq. The centre-back tackles effectively and is an intelligent stopper, as he demonstrated with a series of fine interventions against Libya.
  5. #5 Right-Back: Osas Okoro

    Yusuf’s decision to use the winger as a right-back has been a divisive issue among Nigeria supporters. When things went well for Nigeria at the CHAN, Okoro was more often than not involved, and his long-range diagonal passing and set-piece delivery were both excellent. The full-back also made a series of vital clearances in the narrow victory over Sudan.
  6. #6 Left winger: Ismail El Haddad

    Didn’t receive the same hype as Achraf Bencharki or Walid El Karti, but was a lethal presence in wide areas with his superb delivery and speculative shooting. Haddad was influential in the final—contributing the assist for El Karti’s goal—and throughout the tournament. He’s not the most glamorous attacker, but he offers work rate, stamina and defensive cover—as well as an end product.
  7. #7 Midfielder: Dayo Ojo

    Overlooked at the start of the campaign, Ojo was introduced in Nigeria’s second fixture against Libya and did enough to convince Yusuf to start him ahead of Rabiu Ali for the next match against Equatorial Guinea. The Sunshine Stars man responded with one of the goals of the tournament—a delicious rasping effort—and added bite and dynamism to the Eagles’ midfield thereafter.
  8. #8 Midfielder: Salaheddine Saidi

    Particularly effective in the win over Namibia, in which he scored Nigeria’s second and won the Man of the Match award, Saidi was one of Morocco’s unsung heroes during their run to the final. The articulate 30-year-old was a calming presence for the Atlas Lions when things weren’t going their way, and also served as an effective, rapier-like attacking weapon through the midfield and at set pieces. 

  9. #9 Right winger: Zakaria Hadraf

    Effective throughout the tournament, even though he was in and out of Morocco’s team, Hadraf makes the cut here based on his display in the final. The wideman was the hosts’ star man on the big occasion, ending a frustrating first half by opening the scoring just before the pause. He added his second—the Lions’ third—soon after the hour mark, as Jamal Sellami’s side romped to victory.
  10. #10 Striker: Ayoub El Kaabi

    The tournament top scorer was always going to be in a shoo-in for this team after netting an eye-catching nine goals in six matches. Not only does El Kaabi win the Golden Boot, but was also named as the Player of the Tournament by Caf in the immediate aftermath of Morocco’s success. No player has ever scored more than the RS Berkane man in a single edition of the CHAN, and could he have done enough to secure a spot in Morocco’s World Cup squad?

  11. #11 Striker: Gabriel Okechukwu

     The Akwa United hero started the CHAN out of Yusuf’s starting XI, but he was introduced to great effect against Angola in the quarter-final. After coming off the bench, Okechukwu netted a superb 109th-minute winner, before proceeding to score the winner in the semi-final after being introduced to the starting XI. Unfortunately, the final somewhat passed him by.