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Africa Sports News of Friday, 30 July 2021


Olympic football: Top five African players of the group stage

Some African players who have excelled at the Olympic Games Some African players who have excelled at the Olympic Games

With the group stage games across the men and women’s section done and dusted, Goal pick out Africa’s best players so far.

Barbra Banda

No doubt the continent’s finest player so far, the Zambia forward thrived despite her nation’s otherwise disappointing tournament.

Banda netted six times — a pair of hat-tricks in the opening two games — and sits joint-top for goals in the women’s section (the Netherlands’ Vivianne Miedema has netted as many).

The young attacker’s exploits saw her set a plethora of records at the Games and she’ll not be forgotten in a hurry.

Mohamed El Shenawy

The first of three Egyptians, the Al Ahly shot-stopper has been immense so far in Tokyo.

He sits joint-top for clean sheets (two) and has earned those with a high volume of saves (10), bettered by only four goalkeepers.

El Shenawy made five stops in the young Pharaohs’ important 2-0 success over Australia in the final round of games, coming up trumps when his side needed him most.

Ahmed Hegazi

Hegazi has been a defensive stalwart at the Games, massively contributing to a pair of clean sheets for the Egypt side.

Shawky Gharib’s team have leaned on the experience of the towering 30-year-old, whose no-nonsense style has seen him make more clearances than anyone else in the competition (21).

If the North Africans are to go further in the competition, they’ll need the former West Bromwich Albion defender to stay consistent.

Akram Tawfik

Arguably Egypt’s best player in the group stage, Tawfik has combined grit with technique at the Games.

The 23-year-old has made the highest volume of tackles in the men’s tournament and ranks second for interceptions in his side, showing how often he gets stuck in and a commendable reading of the game.

He sits joint-fourth for dribbles completed and has been largely accurate with his passing so far.

Indeed, Tawfik may even be a contender for Player of the Tournament!

Teboho Mokoena

Even though teammate Luke Fleurs ran the midfielder close, Mokoena makes it into our top five African performers.

The Supersport United man’s performance level never dropped at the Games and his thoroughly enjoyable showing against Mexico was a joy to watch.

Amaglug-glug lost their final group game 3-0, but Mokoena gave an incredible showing in and out of possession and certainly didn’t deserve to end on the losing side.

Perhaps, scouts at the Olympics will recommend the South African to their clubs once the Games are over…he was that good!

Honourable mentions

While Ivory Coast haven’t particularly caught the eye so far, Ira Eliezer Tape and Franck Kessie have had a decent-to-good outing to date.

The former has made 10 saves — level with El Shenawy — and seven of those attempts have come inside his box.

Kessie has been one of the Little Elephants’ best players and he’s done well in a more advanced midfield role despite his current contract impasse with AC Milan.