Africa played, won and lost in this World Cup which ended on December 18 with the victory of Argentina over France. But the 5 African selections have not been ridiculous in this tournament with players who have released masterclass in their performances.
The exercise is difficult. At the end of this World Cup (November 20-December 18), Sport News Africa could establish a string of "5 major". For, the African talents have splashed their class the competition queen of soccer. But, we will have to choose. So, inevitably eliminate. Some will agree, others will not buy into this tedious plebiscite. But we dive anyway.
YASSINE BOUNOU (MOROCCO)
The worthy heir of Zaki
Morocco no longer mourns a great keeper. It is difficult to reach a level that everyone in the country respects. Especially when the Kingdom had known a Badou Zaki. For his contemporaries, Zaki has no equal and may never have. It will be necessary to be really Cartesian not to see that the Lions of the Atlas hold a worthy successor of Zaki. In Yassine Bounou, Morocco has gained stability in goal during this World Cup.
The FC Sevilla goalkeeper has been decisive in the course of his teammates who stopped in the semi-final against France (2-0 defeat). Before failing at the foot of the podium by losing in the third place match against Croatia (2-1). Four goals taken on these last two matches of the World Cup, the end was less happy for Bounou. But, if Morocco has made such a journey, it is mainly thanks to him. And for good reason, Bounou has conceded only one goal in his first four games. It was against Canada (1-2, day 3).
During this competition, the native of Montreal (31 years) made 7 decisive saves. Moreover, he became the first goalkeeper in a World Cup to have conceded only one goal in 5 games. This had not happened since 2006 with Buffon (Italy). Bounou touched about 38 balls with a passing accuracy of 73%.
YOUSSOU SABALY (SENEGAL)
He embodies lucidity. The head on the shoulders. Youssouf Sabaly is not the most bling bling nor the most flashy in the Senegalese selection. Discreet, "anonymous" to the limit. But on the field, Sabaly is a great player. Intelligent in his tactical replacements, the right back of Senegal is always on his feet when it comes to defense. He was again at the height in this World Cup with the African Champions eliminated in the 8th final by England (Defeat by 3-0). Sabaly had legs on fire in this tournament.
He was the most influential Lion in the game of Senegal. Sabaly won the most duels (70%). Better as a defender, he made the most passes with 210 balls played. Sabaly also made the most sprints with 241 runs. He also managed the most actions in the opponent's area with a rate of 82%, according to FIFA stats. "The game requires the contribution of the laterals and when we have the opportunity to bring a plus I do it," he said in an interview with Walf Quotidien. "When I see that I have the space to take my lane, I try to do so to the maximum. But I am a defender before being a counter-attacker," he added.
SOFYAN AMRABAT (MOROCCO)
The pit bull
We didn't think that he would be able to do anything during this World Cup. Especially since in the Moroccan squad, the cameras were focused on Hakim Ziyech, Achraf Hakimi. Except that Amrabat was invited among the players who counted in the Atlas Lions elimination in the semi-finals. It is difficult to go through the World Cup without seeing his name in the midfield and often alongside Luka Modric (Croatia) and Enzo Hernandez (Argentina). Amrabat was the first defensive curtain of Morocco and brought balance between the lines, plugged the gaps and compensated for late substitutions.
Fifty-six (56) balls touched on average, the highest total in the Moroccan selection, 38 passes made per game of which 12 in the opponent's half, 2 tackles on average per game, 4 duels won, 8 balls lost, Amrabat was clean in his game. I know that everyone talks about Ziyech and Hakimi, but I want to talk about Amrabat," Fabio Capello told Messaggero. He is fundamental for the balance of his team, and he is also a great runner: I read that he ran more than 14 kilometers in the round of 16 against Spain. I consider him the Gattuso of Morocco." Nice testimonial from a coaching legend.
MOHAMMED KUDUS (GHANA)
The little Mozart of the Black stars
Watching Mohammed Kudus in the field is simply a treat. It's a joy. Kudus offers everything that soccer has to provide as entertainment. During this World Cup, the 22 year old striker was present in every game of the Black stars. With two goals and an assist, not to mention the penalty he won against Uruguay, Kudus deserves to be in Sport News Africa's top 5.
Kudus, the phenomenon
The Ajax Amsterdam midfielder was voted "man of the match" against Portugal despite the defeat of his team (3-2, 1st day) in group H. During his outings at the World Cup, Kudus touched an average of 47 balls per game and completed 71% of his dribbles. After his great tournament, the big clubs of Europe are all sitting in front of his door waiting to sit first on the negotiation table.
VINCENT ABOUBAKAR (CAMEROON)
The stainless steel
His goal in the 92nd minute to defeat the great Brazil with its stars, is worth him to be on this "5 major". Vincent Aboubakar offered this December 2nd a prestigious victory to Africa and to Cameroon (1-0, 3rd day). Even if the Indomitable Lions will be eliminated with 4 points, the captain has weighed all his weight in this World Cup where he also went through all the emotions, from scorer to player expelled. "He became the first player to score and receive a red card in the same World Cup match since Zinedine Zidane in the 2006 final against Italy," said the FIFA website.
Whatever for Aboubakar, "Cameroon can leave the competition with their heads held high," said the striker to beIN Sports. "In addition, it had been years since Cameroon had won a match in the World Cup," added Vincent, who was author of goals and what achievement against Serbia. A Dantesque ladle. Without doubt one of the beautiful masterpieces of this World Cup. With a decisive pass in this match of the 2nd day (3-3), of the group G.