Coral’s Africa Cup of Nations Team of the Tournament starting XI
Ivory Coast (200/1 2018 World Cup outsiders) have finally won their first Africa Cup of Nations in 23 years, after defeating the same opponents in 1992, Ghana, again on penalties after a 0-0 draw.
So, with the tournament now over, Coral football writers have come up with a starting Team of the Tournament. Do you agree with our picks?
Goalkeeper: Felipe Ovono (Equatorial Guinea)
This 21-year-old was an unknown before this year’s AFCON, and he would’ve stayed that way had his nation not been made late hosts after Morocco were stripped of the honour. Ovono was outstanding for the National Thunder, helping them to a creditable fourth-place finish.
Right back: Harrison Afful (Ghana)
The Black Stars (also 200/1 shouts to win the next World Cup) kept four clean sheets this tournament, including in the final against the Elephants, and Ghana half centurion Afful featured in every minute of every game for his team.
Centre back: Rui (Equatorial Guinea)
Hosts Equatorial Guinea may have been one of the minnows of the 2015 AFCON, but they also shut out three countries in normal time, including their third-place play-off against DR Congo. Spain-born Rui was at the heart of National Thunder’s defence.
Centre back: Wilfried Kanon (Ivory Coast)
Kanon outshone fellow Elephants centre backs Kolo Toure and new Villarreal youngster Eric Bertrand Bailly this tournament, and even scored a crucial third goal against DR Congo in the semi-finals to kill off the game.
Left back: Faouzi Ghoulam (Algeria)
Pre-tournament joint-favourites Algeria were unlucky to have been drawn Ivory Coast in the quarter-finals, but Napoli’s Ghoulam highly impressed for the Desert Foxes and scored effectively the winning goal against South Africa in the group stage.
Defensive midfield: Nabil Bentaleb (Algeria)
Ghoulam’s Algeria teammate Bentaleb, of Tottenham, also shone, as he got a late goal in his nation’s final game of the pool to knock out star-studded Senegal.
Right wing: Gervinho (Ivory Coast)
Gervinho was one of the stars of the tournament, despite an early glitch where he was sent off in Ivory Coast’s opening match against Guinea. The Roma winger, though, came back from that and got important goals in the quarters against Algeria and the semi-final with DR Congo.
Attacking midfield: Andre Ayew (Ghana)
Marseille’s Ayew, brother of Jordan, claimed the top scorer award for the competition, due to his assists as he finished level with four others with three strikes. He was also on target in the penalty shoot-out against the Elephants in the final.
Left wing: Javier Balboa (Equatorial Guinea)
Another Equatorial Guinea player to feature in this team, former Real Madrid player Balboa scored three times at the Africa Cup of Nations, with two being dramatic late goals against Tunisia in the quarters.
Striker: Thievy Bifouma (Congo)
Ex-West Bromwich Albion loanee Bifouma also made an impression this tournament, getting three goals. The Red Devils weren’t expected to go far in Equatorial Guinea, but Bifouma helped them past the group stage, where they then lost out to neighbours DR Congo.
Striker: Dieumerci Mbokani (DR Congo)
It was Leopards frontman Mbokani, though, who saw off Congo in that match, getting the first and last of his nation’s comeback goals in that 4-2 victory. He was also on target against Ivory Coast in the semis from the spot to temporarily give DR Congo hope.