An XI purely from Africa but with a stipulation: each nation can only be used once. So no partnership of Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba up front, no Yaya Toure and Didier Drogba in the same team. A tough one but a good one.
This is a team which will most likely cause disagreements throughout due to the country restrictions. One player from each country but of course, not every country will be used. The formation we have decided on is 3-4-3, an attacking formation but we thought, why not be daring when this team won’t be playing against anyone?
Goalkeeper: Bruce Grobbelaar [Zimbabwe]
A 32-time capped Zimbabwe international, this South African born goalkeeper makes it between the sticks for TCD’s African XI. Forget the match fixing allegations of 1994, this keeper was solid between the sticks for Liverpool most notably but featured for 17 clubs in total and was a part of 19 (he didn’t feature for Oxford United or Sheffield Wednesday). A three time FA Cup winner along with one European Cup, his place is cemented in net.
Centre-Back: Mehdi Benatia [Morocco]
A solid centre half, once of AS Roma but now on loan at Juventus from parent club FC Bayern. He made 80 appearances for Udinese before moving to Roma where he made 30. A two time Bundesliga winner alongside a DFB Pokal, Benatia is a good defender. A Moroccan international, he ticks another nation off the list.
Centre-Back: Lucas Radebe [South Africa]
Winning the National Soccer League twice with Kaiser Chiefs in the consecutive years of 1991 and 1992 then moving onto Leeds United where he was a Champions League semi-finalist and won Player of the Year in 1998. He recieved a FIFA Fair Play award for his contribution to ridding the game of racism. A notable achievement was when a Leeds brewery asked for name suggestions for a new beer, ‘Radebeer’ was voted favourite showing their admiration for the South African.
Centre-Back: Chancel Mbemba [Congo]
An inclusion that most people will be like ‘what the fuck?’ but one I feel, as a Newcastle fan and due to the restrictions, is a fair one. Sami Kuffour misses out due to the nation restrictions but Mbemba is one who is an adequate replacement. A very solid defender from the Congo, no-one knows his age but I know that he is an excellent defender. The man turned up with a tuxedo on for his first home game at Newcastle…suave.
Winger: Pierre Emerick Aubameyang [Gabon]
He once wore £2,500 crystalised boots when warming up at Saint Ettiene and scored 29 goals in 54 goals before moving to Borussia Dortmund where he has netted 56 goals in 95 (and counting). A front flip celebrator, the pacey attacker was the African Footballer of the Year in 2015 alongside BVB’s top goalscorer two years running (2014-2016).
Central Midfielder: Michael Essien [Ghana]
The Bison. On-field forcefulness and prowess gave him this nickname and he has been one of the best midfielders to come from Africa in football. Essien has won the Premier League twice whilst playing for Chelsea along with a Champions League win in 2012. In terms of individual honours, he was included in the African Cup of Nations ‘Team of All Tournaments’ and was BBC African Player of the Year in 2006.
Central Midfielder: Seydou Keita [Mali] Starting his career in Marseille, the Mali international was mostly known for his stints at Lens, Sevilla and FC Barcelona. During his first season at Barcelona, the Catalan club won the treble. Keita scored a hat-trick over Zaragoza in 2009 and made more appearances than any outfield player in 2010-11 for Barcelona. A three time La Liga winner, two time Champions League winner and two third place positions in the AFCON, Keita is an inclusion based on my personal preference but also because he has done a lot in football. A hero of mine.
Winger: Jay-Jay Okocha [Nigeria] ‘He’s so good they named him twice’ was a chant sang during his time at Bolton Wanderers. Okocha was a very skillful player and adopted the step-over, making it his own before a certain Cristiano Ronaldo came along. When playing for Eintract Frankfurt, he scored a goal that had Oliver Khan diving about all over the place due to his twists and turns. When at Fenerbache, he scored 30 goals in 62 appearances and many of them came from set pieces. This was something he became known for at the Turkish club. PSG signed him for £14m and he became the most expensive African player at the time. He won Nigerian Footballer of the Year 6 times between 1995 and 2005 and won the AFCON with Nigeria in 1994.
Striker: George Weah [Liberia]
A player everyone knew would be included. Probably the greatest talent to come out of Africa, the AS Monaco, Paris Saint Germain and AC Milan legend is one of the first names on the team sheet. He combined physical attributes with technique, skill and finishing ability to become one of the best players in the world. Despite the controversy of him breaking Jorge Costa’s nose in the tunnel over racism allegations, he won the FIFA Fair Play Award the same year but that wasn’t the most notable award. Weah grabbed the FIFA World Player of the Year Award in 1995 and the Ballon D’Or the same year. He was the first native African to win these awards.
Striker: Didier Drogba [Ivory Coast]
Of course the Ivorian is included, how could we leave him out? A Premier League, and football-in-general. legend. Hated by many, admired by most throughout his time playing for Chelsea. No-one can deny how influential he was as a striker for Chelsea with his prowess being huge upfront. He score over 150 goals for Chelsea where he played for ten years after moving from Marseille where he scored 32 in 55. Not only has he scored this many at club level, he scored 63 in 104 for Ivory Coast. A four time Premier League champion and a massive role in Chelsea’s Champions League glory of 2012 scoring the winning penalty, he leads the line for this XI or it would be a ‘fucking disgrace’ eh, Didier?
Striker: Samuel Eto’o [Cameroon] Samuel Eto’o is one of the most profilic strikers in the game’s history when in his prime. 129 goals in 201 appearances at Barcelona and a further 53 in 101 at Inter, he is one of the best strikers the game has seen. He was 1/3 of one of the best trios in history which featured himself, Lionel Messi and Thierry Henry who score over 100 goals together in a single campaign. Eto’o has won La Liga three times, the Champions League three times, a Scudetto, the AFCON twice, an Olympic Gold Medal and the African Player of the Year four times. He is also Cameroon’s top goalscorer.
Manager: Stephen Keshi
The rule doesn’t apply here. The Nigerian won the AFCON both as a manager and a player and was given African Manager of the Year in 2013. We were deeply saddened by the news of his passing, our thoughts are with his family and friends. Rest In Peace.
The kit worn by South Africa on their return to the African Cup of Nations following their 34 year ban from the tournament and a non-qualifying campaign the tournament before they were crowned champions in 1996. A beautiful gold, black and green kit worn with pride by the nation and Nelson Mandela himself.
The kit worn in Nigeria’s first ever World Cup in 1994. They topped their group of Argentina, Bulgaria and Greece before being knocked out in the quarters by a Roberto Baggio double. A very beautiful kit whether it be with green shorts or not.
A very tough task deciding this XI, especially with the nation restrictions in place. This team is a solid team with a lot of attacking firepower. Maybe the tactic is to outscore opponents rather than keep them out? Well with that defence and Essien and Keita holding, anything is possible. Let us know who we should include, who we shouldn’t have included and any complaints you have in the comments below.