AFRICA UNITED: 11 Players That Can Represent Africa At The World Cup

AFRICA UNITED: 11 Players That Can Represent Africa At The World Cup

The best Africa has ever reached at the FIFA World Cup is the quarterfinal (Cameroon 1990; Senegal 2002; Ghana 2010) and the five African representatives to Russia 2018 will be hoping to pass that landmark. Completesportsnigeria.com’s KAYODE OGUNDARE draws up a fantasy football team of a hybrid African selected side in a straight 4-4-2 formation…


Aymen Mathlouthi (TUNISIA)

Age: 33;                Position: Goalkeeper

Caps: 70               Club: Al-Batin (SAUDI ARABIA)

Captain of his national team, Mathlouthi is famous for controlling the ball with his feet and dribbling the players inside the penalty area. Regarded as one of Africa’s best goalkeepers, he led Tunisia to the CHAN title in 2011. A CAF Champions League, Confederations Cup and CAF Super Cup winner with Etoile du Sahel, he moved to Saudi Arabia in 2018. He was also named into the CAF Team of the Year in 2017.

Ahmed Elmohamady (EGYPT)

Age: 30;                Position: Defender

Caps: 83               Goals: 2

Club: Aston Villa (ENGLAND)

One of the very few Egyptians to have a successful European career, Elmohamady embodies the typical African fighting spirit whenever he steps on the pitch. Versatile in a number of roles, he’s played as a winger, midfielder, wing back and at right back where he’s often seen to bomb down the right flank to cause damage. Elmohamady was part of the Egyptian squads that won the 2008 and 2010 Africa Cup of Nations. He also played in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, famously sent off in the 4-3 loss to Brazil.

Medhi Benatia (MOROCCO)

Age: 31;                Position: Defender

Cap: 56                 Goals: 2

Club: Juventus (ITALY)

Tall, strong and dependable, Benatia is blessed with good technique and ball-winning ability as well as excellent organisational skills. He’s earned a reputation as one of the best centre-backs in Serie A, most famous for his tackling and ability in the air. Born in France, he chose to play for Morocco and has been to three AFCON competitions with the Atlas Lions. He scored in a 2-0 away win against Cote d’Ivoire to help Morocco reach a first World Cup in 20 years.

Kalidou Koulibaly (SENEGAL)

Age: 27                 Position: Defence

Caps: 22               Club: Napoli (ITALY)

Nicknamed “The Wall” because he’s large, quick and physically strong yet elegant, Koulibaly is excellent in the air and his sense of anticipation, passing ability and versatility (being able to play both as a central defender, or as a full-back on either the right or left flank, in both a three or four-man defence or even as a defensive midfielder) makes him a prized asset to any team. He was a part of Senegal’s squad to the 2017 AFCON and helped the Teranga Lions to another World Cup since their debut in 2002.


Ali Maaloul (TUNISIA)

Age: 28                 Position: Defence

Caps: 33               Club: Al Ahli (EGYPT)

Maaloul is on the books of Egyptian giants Al Ahli and has been a part of their success since making the move from CS Sfaxien in 2016. Tough as a nail, the 28-year old combines defensive nous with offensive abilities (he scored 14 league goals in 2015/16 season, a record for a defender in Tunisian league history) which makes him a perfect fix at left back in this African 11 side.

Since making his national team debut in 2013, Maaloul has gradually become one of the pillars of the Tunisian team with his ball carrying skills and ability with dead-balls.

Kara Mbodj (SENEGAL)

Age: 28                 Position: Midfield

Caps: 46               Goals: 5

Club: Anderlecht (Belgium)

Versatility is the name of Kara Mbodj’s game with the strongman able to slide in effortlessly in defence, defensive midfield or in central midfield. He’s considered by many to be the natural leader of the Senegalese team because of his influence on his team-mates. He’s credited with making Kalidou Koulibaly accept to play for Senegal and is widely respected by teammates, officials and the fans. It was initially feared that he might miss the World Cup through injury but he recovered in time to be included in the party.

Wilfred Ndidi (NIGERIA)

Age: 21                 Position: Midfield

Caps: 18               Club: Leicester City (ENGLAND)

The evolution and progress of Wilfred Ndidi is fairytale. Five years ago, he was dropped from Nigeria’s U-17 squad and he seemed to have no future in the game with that particular door shut. Today, with less than 20 caps for Nigeria, he’s an established international player being one of the first names on the roster. He’s rated the best tackler of the ball in the English Premier League and already being linked with giants Liverpool and Arsenal. His versatility, started out as a central defender and has played in right back, coupled with his height and fantastic ability to read the game makes him a shoo-in to this team. That he’s so highly-rated, despite this being his first-ever competition with the Super Eagles, speaks to his abundant talent.


John Mikel Obi (NIGERIA)

Age: 31 Position: Midfield

Cap: 85                 Goals: 6

Club: Tianjin Teda (CHINA)

At the twilight of his career, Nigerian captain Mikel Obi is finally showing the talent which he promised when he was first let loose on the world at the 2005 U-20 World Cup in the Netherlands where he was voted the second best player behind Argentina’s Lionel Messi. Though his game has undergone several alterations, evolving from a deadly offensive midfielder to a deeper-lying role, Mikel’s calming influence, his long accurate passes and ability to get into meaty challenges is difficult to ignore. What he lacks in pace, Mikel makes up with better game management, positional awareness and the occasional goal. This is his second and, probably, last World Cup.

Younès Belhanda (MOROCCO)

Age: 28                 Position: Midfield

Caps: 47               Goals: 5

Club: Galatasaray (TURKEY)

Born in France to Moroccan parents, Younes Belhanda has been compared to former France international and Arsenal star Robert Pires for his excellent technique which often sees him operating through the middle or on the wings. He’s the nerve of the Moroccan team with great vision, good passes and excellent dribbling skills. And, of course, he scores the occasional goal for club and country.

Mohamed Salah (EGYPT)

Age: 26                 Position: Forward

Caps: 55               Goals: 33

Club: Liverpool (ENGLAND)

Mohamed Salah’s game has evolved from being a winger to a complete forward able to play all across the frontline and usually interchanging roles to suit the particulars of each game. This metamorphosis has paid huge dividends, especially in the last season where he broke all sorts of records and won awards for his English Premier League side Liverpool, notably the club’s scoring record for a debut season and, leading Egypt to a first World Cup appearance in 28 years. Quick, mobile, hard-working and tactical with good technique and an eye for goal, Salah has speed, dribbling skills, first touch, and ball control all in equal measure. He’s arguably the most in-form African player at the World Cup despite an injury scare from the Champions League final against Real Madrid.


Sadio Mane

Age: 26                 Position: Forward

Caps: 49               Goals: 14

Club: Liverpool (ENGLAND)

Winger with a penchant to drift in to goalscoring positions off the main striker, Sadio Mane was one leg of the three-man Liverpool side that reached the final of the UEFA Champions League last May and, more tellingly, he led Senegal to qualify for just their second World Cup after their debut in 2002. Mane’s strength lies in his speed, dribbles and fearlessness to confront much bigger opposition despite his size. The scoring hopes of the Teranga Lions will be on his shoulder but he contributes more than goals, often deploying his pace to outwit defenders and assist strike partners to get goals. Whether scoring or assisting, Mane will be more than a handful for defenders in Russia.

Do you agree with this team list? If you don’t, kindly draw up your own list from the players at the World Cup in the comment section.

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