GK-Thomas Nkono beats Joseph Antoine-Bell to the position of goalkeeper. The Cameroonian won the African Footballer of the Year award in 1979 and 1982. He also represented his country at three World Cups, 1982, 1990 and 1994. His greatness is best reflected by the fact that Gianluigi Buffon named his first son Thomas after Nkono; who was Buffon’s goalkeeping idol.
RB-Michael Essien is probably the most versatile player in this team, being able to play across the defense or midfield. His powerful game and impressive technique would make him a brilliant attacking right back, providing some much needed width to this rather narrow side. The Ghanaian has recently impressed in his spell on loan at Real Madrid, showing the form that made him such a great before he ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus. Perhaps he can help Chelsea, and possibly ‘The Special One’ win the Premier League once again.
CB-Noureddine Naybet is the most capped Moroccan player of all time, appearing 105 times for his country. The defender represented his country in six African Cup of Nations tournaments, 1992, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2006, two World Cups, 1994 and 1998, and also featured in the 1998 African Cup of Nations team of the tournament.
CB-Rigobert Song is Cameroon’s most capped player, featuring 138 times. He is the only player to have appeared in 8 consecutive African Cup of Nations tournaments; from 1996 to 2010. He won two of the tournaments he played in: the 2000 and 2002 triumphs. Personal accolades include being placed in the African Cup of Nations team of the tournament in the years 2000, 2002 and 2006. He has also played in four World Cups, 1994, 1998, 2002 and 2006; while currently holding the record for being the youngest player to be sent off in a World Cup match after being sent off in USA 1994 when he was just 17.
LB-Celestine Babayaro will bring great width to the left flank, just like Essien on the right. The Nigerian was a very versatile full back, despite him having a few awful defensive mishaps in a Newcastle shirt. He did play brilliantly for Chelsea though.
CDM-Tareq Al Tayeb is one of the best playmakers that Africa has ever produced. The Libyan has appeared 77 times for his country, scoring 23 goals. Juventus, Arsenal and Valencia all wanted to sign him in the past, however, moves were denied by the Libyan authorities. Al Tayeb might have been a European great if Colonel Gaddafi had allowed him to play in Europe. He currently plays for Misr El Makasa, in the Egyptian Premier League.
CDM-Yaya Touré is the perfect player to break up play and start attacks in this attacking side. He would be brilliant alongside a creator such as Al Tayeb, making surging runs and stopping counter-attacks. The Ivory Coast international has scored 13 times for his country in 75 appearances, and has established himself as one of the greatest Premier League destroyers of all time. He also can pass the ball efficiently, having spent his early career at Barcelona after Monaco.
RAM-Samuel Eto’o is one of the best strikers that football has ever seen, making 535 appearances and scoring 284 goals. His pace and dribbling would make him a big threat to defenses. He is the first, and currently only, player to win two European trebles back to back with Barcelona and Internazionale. His playing honours include winning the African Footballer of the Year award four times in the years 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2010, while representing Cameroon.
LAM-Abedi Pele was a very skillful, tricky player. The Ghanaian was African Footballer of the Year in 1991 and 1992, and came 9th in the World Player of the Year award in 1992. He assisted Basile Boli in the 1993 UEFA Champions League final when Marseille defeated AC Milan 1-0.
CF-George Weah won the 1995 FIFA World Player of the Year, 1995 European Player of the Year and the African Footballer of the Year award twice in 1989 and 1995. Weah was a great athlete and would bring even more pace to this side which is full of power. He played for top European clubs: Monaco, Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea (on loan) and Marseille. He almost became Liberia’s president in 2005, and in 2011 he ran for vice-president.
ST-Didier Drogba is, in my opinion, the greatest African player of all time. At his peak, his pace and his physical presence were frightening. He bulldozes his way through sides, causing havoc for Europe’s best defenses. The highlight of his playing honours was him winning the UEFA Champions League, being named the Man of the Match in the final. He has had success with the Ivory Coast as well, and is currently their all time leading goal scorer with a tally of 60 goals.
This team was a very exciting team to build, with all African countries producing talented forwards. I will probably come under criticism for not including any Egyptian players, as Egypt dominated African football for a large spell. However, Egypt did so well because they were a good team, and had good players all over the pitch. For me, Egypt did not have a player who was worthy to take a place in this side. Special mentions must go to Bruce Grobbelaar, Carlos Kameni, Hossam Hassan, Jay Jay Okocha, Kalusha Bwalya, Mustapha Madjer, Roger Milla and Vincent Enyeama. I apologise for missing other players off this list of special mentions. I am also sorry that this comes a day late.