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Sports News of Friday, 27 December 2019

Source: goal.com

Picking one great African player for each year of the decade


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2010

Asamoah Gyan was influential as Ghana reached the quarter-final of the World Cup, even if he ultimately denied them the chance to reach the final four, but Samuel Eto’o was Africa’s outstanding talent in 2010.

His biggest achievement was winning the Champions League with Internazionale, with the Cameroon legend delivering a series of fine performances en route to that title…his third in the competition.

In 2010, Eto’o also won the Serie , the Italian Cup, the Italian Super Cup and the Club World Cup as part of an excellent Nerazzurri side.

2011

Yaya Toure enjoyed one of his finest hours in 2011, scoring the only goal of the FA Cup final as Manchester City defeated Stoke City at Wembley to win their first major honour for 35 years.

It was arguably the triumph that set the ambitious Sky Blues on their way to the successes they’ve enjoyed subsequently.

Toure was the key protagonist in their run to the final, also scoring the only goal of the semi-final victory over Manchester United, capping off a superlative display.

2012

While the Ivory Coast failed in the Africa Cup of Nations, Toure shone during City’s run to the Premier League title, making a series of mammoth contributions as they clinched the crown in dramatic fashion.

The midfield powerhouse proved himself to be a commanding presence, capable of dominating opponents, and also weighed in with six goals as Roberto Mancini’s team got over the line.

2013

Again, the Nations Cup didn’t go well for Toure and his compatriots, but at club level, he dazzled for City, even though it was a difficult year for the Sky Blues.

The midfield general won his third African Footballer of the Year award, made the Caf Team of the Year for the fifth occasion, and was also crowned BBC African Footballer of the Year.

He also improved his goal output in the Premier League and was the only African player nominated for the Ballon d’Or.

2014

Toure maintained his dominance in the middle of the decade with another fine year, even if…again..the Elephants flattered to deceive at a major tournament and were eliminated at the first hurdle of the World Cup.

Domestically, he ended the 2013-14 season with a Premier League winner’s medal, a League Cup title and, notably, 20 goals in the top flight.

For context, only one other central midfielder—Frank Lampard—has hit the 20-goal mark since the league’s inception in 1992.

2015

Toure again gets the nod here, even if City stuttered in the Premier League.

He was nominated for the Ballon d’Or again, and, critically, captained the Ivory Coast to the Nations Cup title…finally ending the Elephants’ wait for the gold.

It was a magnificent achievement for Toure, imperious throughout the competition, as he thrive.

2016

Riyad Mahrez is the outstanding contender for the 2016 award, following his exploits for Leicester City during their miraculous title triumph under Claudio Ranieri.

He was outstanding during the Foxes’ fairytale run to the Premier League crown, making a mockery of his £400,000 transfer fee from Le Havre, and ending the year with 17 goals and 11 assists.

Notably, Mahrez became the first African player to win the Premier League’s PFA Player of the Year award.

2017

With the emergence of Sadio Mane and Naby Keita, as well as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s continued excellence, competition for the major African individual awards at the year’s end was particularly intense.

However, Mohamed Salah, who clinched both the BBC and the Caf awards, gets the nod here.

He helped AS Roma finish second, and also dazzled after returning to England with Liverpool, making a lightning start to life in England.

At the Nations Cup, Salah may have fallen short in the final, but he excelled as Egypt announced their return to the continental high table in some style, and inspired them to the 2018 World Cup.

2018

Last year belonged to Salah again, even if he was cruelly denied the chance to make a genuine impact at the World Cup due to injury.

He broke records aplenty during his maiden season at Liverpool, ending the year with 32 league goals and 10 assist, and also scored 10 en route to the Champions League final.

2019

Salah’s again a contender as 2019’s top African star, as is Mahrez, who’s won a host of honours with Manchester City—including the league title—as well as the Nations Cup with Algeria.

However, Mane has been Africa’s outstanding talent in 2019, even if he fell short—just—at the Afcon.

The Senegal international won the decisive penalty in the Madrid final as Liverpool defeated Tottenham Hotspur to clinch Europe’s grandest prize, ended the year as joint top scorer in the Premier League, and has helped transform Liverpool into genuine title contenders this term.

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