Coral’s 2015 Africa Cup of Nations all-star starting XI
The 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) is set to start on January 17th, so Coral writers have decided to come up with an all-star XI from the list of players called up by their respective countries.
Do you agree with our starting line-up?
Boubacar Barry (Ivory Coast) – Goalkeeper
African nations don’t tend to produce great keepers, but two of perhaps the best ever in Idriss Carlos Kameni (who was left out by Cameroon) and Vincent Enyeama (Nigeria didn’t qualify) will not be on show. Therefore, Boubacar ‘Copa’ Barry, whose club Lokeren knocked out Hull City of the Europa League this season, makes this side by default. He has been a reliable mainstay in the Elephants’ net, though, earning more than 80 caps.
Serge Aurier (Ivory Coast) – Right back
Another Ivory Coast (tournament 4/1 joint-favourites) player makes this side, with PSG starlet Aurier (on loan from Toulouse) occupying the right full back position. He is undefeated in all 10 games he’s featured in this season for the French giants, and played every minute of all three games for the Elephants where he caught the eye at the 2014 World Cup.
Nicolas N’Koulou (Cameroon) – Centre back
The 24-year-old defender has been a rock for Marcelo Bielsa’s miracle men Marseille in Ligue 1 this season, and his absence in their last match against Montpellier was noticed, as they slumped to defeat and thus surrendered top spot. L’OM will be praying Cameroon make an early exit to have their star back, but the Indomitable Lions are 9/1 chances to go all the way.
Madjid Bougherra (Algeria) – Centre back
Fans in England and Scotland will be familiar with Bougherra’s name, as the Desert Foxes skipper has represented the likes of Sheffield Wednesday, Charlton Athletic, Rangers and even a loan spell at Crewe Alexandra. He leads his men, who are 4/1 joint AFCON favourites.
Pape Souare (Senegal) – Left back
Souare is the stand-out star in Senegal’s otherwise shaky defence, and has been a big part of Lille’s plans this season in Ligue 1 and the Europa League. The 24-year-old kept a clean sheet against Everton this term, and was one of our picks to be a potential Premier League player.
Stephane Mbia (Cameroon) – Central midfield
Former Marseille and QPR midfield destroyer Mbia is now impressing for Sevilla, helping them to win the Europa League title last season, and up to fourth place in La Liga this term so far. The Cameroon captain was named in the Africa Cup of Nations Team of the Tournament back in 2008.
Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast) – Central midfield
Manchester City star and Ivory Coast captain Toure needs no introduction, being the highest-profile player in this competition this year, but he is hoping the finally lift the one trophy that’s eluded him. Toure, who has two AFCON runner-up medals, is a 16/1 shout to be the tournament top scorer.
Yacine Brahimi (Algeria) – Attacking midfield
Brahimi, 24, was named African Footballer of the Year by the BBC, Best African Player at the Liga de Futbol Profesional Awards and Confederation of African Football Most Promising Talent of the Year in 2014. The French-born attacker is certainly one for the future, and he has gained nine goals and eight assists for Porto this season in all competitions. Brahimi scored and set up another against South Korea at the World Cup, on the way to helping them reach the knockout stages.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon) – Right wing
Another French-born player, forward Aubameyang is far and away the star of Gabon’s squad, and the Panthers are 2/1 chances to win Group A. Aubameyang’s club Borussia Dortmund may be struggling this season, but he has impressed mainly from the right wing, getting 11 goals and seven assists in all competitions.
Jonathan Pitroipa (Burkina Faso) – Left wing
Pitroipa may not as well-known as other players in this team, but the former Freiburg winger will be crucial to his side’s success this year. He top scored in qualifying for this competition, and was named Player of the Tournament at the last AFCON, as he inspired Burkina Faso to a surprise run to the final. The Stallions are 13/8 favourites to top Group A, while Pitroipa is 25/1 to get the most goals.
Asamoah Gyan (Ghana) – Striker
This was a toss up between potential new Man City star Wilfried Bony and Gyan, but we’ve gone with the latter due to his success with Ghana over many years. The former Sunderland striker has 45 international goals in 86 caps and has helped the Black Stars to reach the semis of the last four Africa Cup of Nations’. Gyan is 7/1 to be tournament top scorer.