Header Ads

Sidebar Ad

Best African XI in the UEFA Champions League in the last 20 years?

At the highest echelon of club football competitions in Europe is the Champions League. The competition's name speaks volumes of it's class and quality. Come Saturday, 26th May,  2018, millions of Africans across the globe will watch the final in Kiev, Ukraine with all keen interest. Africans, Mohammed Salah and Saido Mane have hoisted high the flag of the continent in this year's edition and are worthy of supporting. 

Salah remains the only African to have scored a double digit of goals in the UEFA Champions League after an impressive season. Will this soon be equalled by Mane? Who also plys his trade for Liverpool in England, a contestant in this year's final. Overall, 19 Africans have lifted the "Big Ears" and hopefully this duo can add their names to the golden books. 

In the past two decades, spanning from 1998 to 2018, African players have not failed to showcase to the rest of the world what the continent has in abundance, football talents. Samuel Eto's opener in the 2009 final, Vincent Enyeama's goal for Hapoel Tel Aviv in 2010 and Nurudeen Naybet's special art of defending for Deportivo de la Coruna in 2004 all are memorable for the African. 

Prior to 1998, African players like Bruce Grobellar,  Abedi Pele, Raba Madjher, George Weah, Nwankwo Kanu and George Finidi were the ambassadors of African football in the Champions League and they had duely represented the continent. Ahead of Matip, Salah and Mane's involvement in the finals on Saturday, let's have a look at the best representatives from Africa at the competition in the last 20 years.  

Gyamfi's Best XI; 

Goalkeeper -  Vincent Enyeama 
In a career that span over 16 years, the Nigerian  shot stopper impressed at the elite club competition with Hapoel Tel Aviv and LOSC Lille. He never won any medal at the competition but his performance in the 2010/11 edition makes him stand tall. In group games against Lyon and Schalke 04, he scored high marks for his performances. He scored a goal against Red Bull Salzburg in the 2010/11 Champions League qualifiers.  

Right Back -  Emmanuel Eboue 
The Ivorian defender recently hit the news with issues concerning his finances and fiance. Until then, the retired defender was known world wide for his marauding runs down the right. During the 2005/6 season when Arsenal made the final, he played 11 times. He helped the Gunners to the quarter-finals twice and the semi-finals once as he made double figure outings for the North Londoners in Europe between 2007 and 2010. 

Left Back - Djimi Troare 
Not the player to call a legend at Liverpool but the Malian achieved what football greats like Luis Ronaldo and Van Nistelrooy never did. The defender played the full 120 minutes against Milan in 2005 as the Reds made that dramatic and remarkable comeback before going ahead to win on penalties. 

Right Centre Back -  Kolo Toure
Having joined Arsenal from Asec Mimosas for as low as £150,000, the Ivorian went on to play 65 times for the Gunners in the Champions League. He played a crucial role in the defence that kept 10 consecutive cleans sheets in the 2005/6 season en route to the Champions League final in Paris. 

Left Centre Back - Samuel Osei Kuffuor 
Having raked 73 appearances in the club competition, the Ghanaian played in two finals ending up as a runner up in one. In 2001, alongside Bavarian legends Effenberg, Kahn, Serginho, Lizarazu and Scholl, the defender helped Bayern Munich defeat Valencia on penalties after a one all stalemate making amends for the 1999 shortcoming. 

Defensive Midfielder - Michael Essien
The energetic midfielder hoisted the "big ears" in 2012 with Chelsea having lost a final in 2008 playing for the Blues. His partnership with fellow African Mahamadou Diarra in Lyon set the tone for stellar performances in the Champions League. His well struck goal for Chelsea against Barcelona in the 2009 semi-finals remains a competition great. 

Central Midfielder - Seydou Keita 
Not a fancied name under Pep Guardiola's world conquering Barcelona side but his importance was there to tell anytime he played. He featured in both the 2009 and 2011 Champions League finals in which Barcelona emerged victorious. He scored two goals in the 2008/9 edition to propel the Blaugrana to the ultimate. 

Attacking Midfielder - Yaya Toure
The Ivorian won the Champions League playing as a centre back under Guardiola's 2009 winning side. He played 30 times for Barcelona in the Champions League before joining Manchester City where he helped them reach the semi-finals, a club record.  His effectiveness as an attacking midfielder was better seen in his years at Manchester City. 

Right Forward - Samuel Eto'o 
The Cameroonian forward bagged 33 goals in 82 Champions League games for Real Madrid, Mallorca, Barcelona, Internationale and Chelsea. He is the most decorated African in the competition having won it three times. He scored in both the 2006 and 2009 finals for Barcelona. 

Centre Forward - Didier Drogba 
Chelsea were on the verge of losing a second final until Drogba's 88th minute header cancelled out Thomas Muller's opener. Chelsea went on to win the final on penaltykicks with Drogba netting the decisive kick. His winner in the semi-final first leg against Barcelona at the Stamford Bridge epitomizes the God he was. With 42 goals, he is the highest scoring African in the competition. 

Left Forward - Benni McCarthy 
The South African goal getter scored a brace as Jose Mourinho's FC Porto defeated Manchester United 2-1 in 2003/04 en route to the final. He was a part of the Porto side which won the 2003/04 Champions League. The Bandana Bafana top scorer remains the only South African to have lifted the trophy  

Formation : 4-3-3 

Do you side with this as the best eleven players from the African Continent to have played in the Champions League in the past 20 years? 

Leave a comment 
Powered by Blogger.