By Clyde Tlou
The goalkeeper is literally the last line of defence, and having a top-class player wearing the gloves is key to any successful side.
Africa has produced a number of great shot-stoppers, such as Egypt’s Essam El Hadary, Tony Sylva of Senegal, Nigeria’s Vincent Enyeama , Zimbabwe’s Bruce Grobbelaar, and South Africa’s Andre Arendse.With a great tradition of consistent and courageous goalkeepers coming from Africa, much is expected of the next generation of young keepers looking to make their name on European football pitches in the next few years.
With that in mind, Goal.com has identified some of the safest hands currently guarding goal lines in the continent.
|DAMI PAUL | NASSARAWA UNITED
The 18-year-old shot-stopper was instrumental in his country's quarter-final finish at the recently held Fifa Under-20 World Cup in Colombia. He produced dazzling saves in the group stages, conceding only two goals as the Flying Eagles romped into the second round without dropping a single point. He kept a clean sheet against England in the round of 16 before the team fell 3-2 to France in the quarter-final. His influence in the side and future potential was noted by many who followed the competition.
|NHLANHLA KHUZWAYO | AMAZULU
Country: South Africa
Despite a lack of game time at club level, Khuzwayo is a promising young custodian who has proven his undoubted talent when playing for the South African U23 side. His form with Amagluglug earned him a call-up to the senior side for the friendly match against Tanzania. Although he didn’t play he surely acquired some valuable experience from Bafana’s first choice keeper, Itumeleng Khune, and the national team nod was a vote of confidence in his ability. The 21-year-old is currently representing his country in the All Africa Games and played a confident game as South Africa beat Ghana 2-1.
|DANIEL ADJEI | LIBERTY PROFESSIONALS
The 21-year-old shot to fame when he brilliantly manned the posts for the Black Satellites during Africa’s first ever U20 World Cup title win at Egypt 2009. He has not been as superb as everyone expected ever since, but with his age and the experience he gained at the junior level means that he is undoubtedly in line to step into the shoes of the senior national team keeper in a few years. He can progress to Europe and find success, but the next few years will reveal how successful the player will become.
Vincent Enyeama | The Super Eagles keeper is a great role model
|ABOU GABEL MOHAMED| ENPPI CAIRO
The 22-year-old has been touted as the next Essam El Hadary, one of the continent's finest ever goalkeepers. Gabel was recently in goal when Egypt lost to Niger during an African Cup of Nations qualifier, and despite his inexperience he showed a few signs of great potential. He has the height required for a top-quality keeper and communicates well with the defenders. Gabel is the first choice custodian for Egypt’s Olympic team, which is aiming to qualify for a place in the 2012 London event.
|CHEIK CADRY SY | DJOLIBA AC BAMAKO
Standing at 1.87 metres, the 18-year-old is a marvel to watch in goals. His height and good positioning makes him a difficult customer for strikers to negotiate. Although Mali were eliminated in the first round of the 2011 Fifa U20 World Cup without even a single point to their name, they had something to be proud of. The player revealed himself as a star for the future due to his agility and command of the goal area.
|JEAN EFALA | FOVU DE BAHAM
The 19-year-old Cameroon keeper is definitely one to keep an eye on for the future. He recently represented his country in the 2011 U20 Fifa World Cup were he showed what a gem he is. Very agile and quick on his feet, he helped the west Africans to beat Uruguay 1-0 in a tense match by keeping a clean sheet, sending Cameroon to the knock out stages of the junior global showpiece held in Colombia.Do you know of another African goalkeepers that could make it big and perhaps play in Europe? As ever, we’re open to your suggestions and musings in the comments section below.