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Sports News of Saturday, 20 July 2019

Source: Goal.com

Africa Cup of Nations: Goal's Team of the Tournament

Mohamed El-Shenawy

Rais M’Bolhi won the competition, and was named Caf’s Man of the Match in the final, but El-Shenawy excelled during the early stages of the competition.

Egypt’s campaign may have ended even earlier had the 30-year-old not bailed them out against the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe, while they also had the goalkeeper to thank for not falling behind against Uganda.

Youcef Atal

Comfortably the best full-back in the competition, both offensively and defensively, before a broken collarbone sustained against the Ivory Coast ended his competition prematurely.

Offered an overlap effectively, carried the ball well, and also contributed an assist in the 3-0 Round of 16 victory over Guinea.

Kenneth Omeruo

Returned to form—and to Nigeria’s starting XI—in some style, with a series of excellent performances during the Super Eagles’ run to the bronze medal.

He scored the winner against Guinea in Nigeria’s second match, helping keep a clean sheet in both that game and the opener, while he also weighed in with an assist as Cameroon were defeated 3-2 in the Round of 16.

Demonstrating that he’s a man for the big occasion, Omeruo also delivered an imperious display in the playoff victory over Tunisia.

Djamel Benlamri

Dogged, rugged, tenacious and unruffled in the heart of the Algerian defence, Benlamri proved why he’s such a fan favourite among Fennecs fans with a series of committed displays.

He played with his heart on his sleeve throughout, demonstrating a mastery of some of the game’s darker arts, while proving to be an ideal complement for the cultured, refined Aissa Mandi.

Wonlo Coulibaly Despite being the only home-based outfield player in the Ivory Coast’s squad, Coulibaly looked composed on the ball, and was rarely caught out of possession.

No player in the tournament averaged more tackles per game than the left-back, who read the game well and supported the Ivorians’ widemen effectively.

Idrissa Gueye

His form deserted him in the final, but to that point, Gueye had been arguably the finest midfielder in the competition.

Asked to play a more expansive role in Egypt than he typically does for Everton in the Premier League, Gueye sought to compensate for Senegal’s lack of midfield creativity and support the strikers.

He contributed an assist in the opener against Tanzania, missed the defeat by Algeria through injury, and then scored the winner against Benin in the Lions’ quarter-final showdown.

Ismael Bennacer

Named Player of the Tournament by Caf, and while one or two of his compatriots may also have had a claim to that prize, it’s an understandable decision by African football’s governing body.

Bennacer contributed three assists during Algeria’s run to the title, knitting things together in the heart of the park for Les Fennecs and offering the kind of midfield spark that few teams could match.

The former Arsenal man appears primed to make a move to AC Milan from Empoli over the coming days and weeks.

Riyad Mahrez

Unfortunate to have been pipped by Bennacer for the Player of the Tournament award, Mahrez demonstrated many facets of his game during an exceptional Afcon campaign.

He was an irresistible element of a superb offensive display in victories over Kenya, Senegal and Guinea—scoring in the first and third matches—while also contributed a last-minute winner from a delicious free kick against Nigeria to take Algeria to the final.

In the win over Senegal, his discipline, work rate, intelligence and defensive qualities were also on show, and he ended the clash with more completed tackles than any other player on the pitch.

Sadio Mane

It was a mixed tournament for the Senegal talisman, although when he was good, he was exceptional.

He scored three goals in six games, which would have been more had he not missed two penalties during the early stages or been suspended for the opener.

No other player in the tournament carried the ball and beat men as effectively as Mane, although his threat was negated in the final defeat by Algeria.

Youcef Belaili

His influence faded as the tournament wore on, but Belaili was one of Algeria’s star men during the early stages—netting the winner in the 1-0 group-stage victory over Senegal, before breaking Guinea’s resolve with a fine effort in the 24th-minute of the Round of 16 clash.

He fully vindicated Djamel Belmadi’s decision to start him ahead of Adam Ounas or Yacine Brahimi, and was an ideal counterpoint for Mahrez and Baghdad Bounedjah.

Odion Ighalo

Not everyone will be convinced by Ighalo’s performances in Egypt, or his all-round contribution, but five goals in seven outings was an excellent return—and earned him the Golden Boot.

The striker also proved to be a match-winner in the 1-0 victories over Burundi and Tunisia, while his display against Cameroon—two goals and the decisive assist—was one of the best individual performances of the campaign.