The 2021 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations is over for now. Senegal won their first-ever trophy at their third time of appearing in the final. Former player and current Senegal manager Aliou Cissé finally won redemption for the trophy that eluded him as a player. Here is the Team of the Tournament.
Mohamed Abou Gabal (Egypt)
Even though Edouard Mendy won the Goalkeeper of the tournament, it was Egyptian goalkeeper, Mohamed Abou Gabal is also known as Gabaski who deserved it under the circumstances. When
Mohamed El Shenawy got injured in the Round of 16 clashes against the Ivory Coast, the 33-year old Zamalek goalkeeper proved to be a safe pair of hands for ‘the Pharaohs’ as they looked to chase down an 8th AFCON title.
RB – Achraf Hakimi (Morocco)
Whilst Morocco did not go as far as first hoped, Hakimi still put in top-notch performances that would make it hard to argue that there are better right-backs available in the game right now.
The Paris Saint-Germain wing-back is good with a lot of attributes: the ball to feet, pace down the line, goal threat, and general possession ability. His free-kick goal against Malawi in the Round of 16 was bittersweet for Moroccan fans as well.
CB – Abdou Diallo
Senegal kept a clean sheet until their quarter-final game against Equatorial Guinea. In the heart of their rock-solid defence was Abdou Diallo.
Even whilst Senegal was struggling to score goals up top, Diallo and central defensive partner Koulibaly kept a tight shop at the back. His reading of the game was key as he averaged 4 interceptions per game.
CB – Kalidou Koulibaly
Koulibaly has been solid in the heart of defence for his club and country for some time now. At 30 years old, having just recovered from the injury he played a sublime partnership in the heart of defence with partner Diallo.
His strength on and off the ball was apparent at AFCON, his passing range and ability were just as good, so it was no surprise why so many clubs have been after his signature for the past few seasons.
LB – Saliou Ciss
The quality of left-backs on show at AFCON was truly something special. The Senegalese left-back played with a strong attacking mindset as he averaged 3 crosses per game but also kept his defensive performances solid (4 interceptions per game).
The champions struggled going forward in the group stages but Ciss together with Sadio Mane on the left provided the team with a greater threat in the knockout stages.
DM – Mohamed Elneny
Elneny showed his true defensive abilities at AFCON, something that Arsenal fans will want to see more of in months to come.
In the heart of the midfield, Elneny always seemed to be where he needed to be, averaging at least 5 ball interceptions per match. This was exceptional, especially in a tight-drilled Egyptian defence under Carlos Queiroz.
CM – Musa Barrow
Appearing at their country’s first-ever AFCON tournament, Barrow and co showed what Gambia had to offer to go all the way to the Quarter-Finals.
His average of 3.8 shots per game brought about two goals at the tournament but it was more his movement, distribution, and vision that were key factors in ‘The Scorpions’ success. The next few years could be exciting to follow for Gambian fans.
CM – Gustavo Sangare
Scoring the opening goal at a tournament is always special, especially when you play against the host nation. Sangare proved to have a slick left-foot with his passing range and ability (3 dribbles per game) but what was more impressive was his versatility in also being able to be defensively solid (3.3 tackles and 4 interceptions per game) when it was required by his manager Kamou Malo.
RW – Moumi Ngamaleu
Ngamaleu who plays for Young Boys in Switzerland enjoyed a lot of freedom under Antonio Conceicao as the hosts won 3rd place. His pace and ability down the line proved to be vital as he crosses the ball on average 4 times per game for the likes of Aboubakar or Karl Toko Ekambi to score.
Elsewhere his dynamic ability to drift inside also contributed a lot to the ‘Indomitable Lions’ goal-scoring threat at AFCON.
LW – Sadio Mane
With the weight of a nation on his shoulders, Sadio Mane again proved how dangerous he can be in big moments. Senegal came alive when Mane was needed most. His group stage games were far from impressive but when the knockout games came around, he made the difference. In the Round of 16 against Cape Verde, he scored. Against Equatorial Guinea in the quarters, he assisted twice.
In the final, he scored the winning penalty in the shoot-out. Talk about turning it up for your country.
The main man up front scored 8 goals (and 1 assist) for the host nation at this edition of the Africa Cup of Nations. Six of his goals came from open play as Cameroon nearly went all the way to win the competition on home turf.
His ability to make space for his shot dribbled past, and run past defenders made him a difficult man to track in Cameroon. He was in such form that according to historical records, only Pierre Ndaye Mulamba (Zaire) had scored more in a single AFCON tournament (9 goals in 1974).
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