In recent years, the game of football in Africa has seen some of the best African midfielders aging and leaving the game.
Yaya Toure was regarded as Africa’s best midfielder in the last decade has since left Manchester City for China while John Obi Mikel who was a youth prodigy in 2005 has declined in quality and called it time on his National team career.
The days of the likes of Micheal Essien is long gone and underlines the fact that these players cannot play forever, while we celebrate their achievements and quality another group of midfielders in the African game has stepped up.
In this write-up, CheapGoals take a look at some of the greatest African Midfielders since 2016.
10. Geoffrey Kondogbia
Country: Central Africa Republic
Kondogbia was born to Central African Republic Parents in France and moved to the RC Lens youth team. The defensive midfielder went on to feature for Inter and then AS Monaco in Ligue 1 making over 40 appearances before moving to Valencia in Spain where he currently plying his trade.
On the International scene, Kondogbia made 5 appearances in friendly matches for France between 2013 and 2015 but switched allegiance to the Central African Republic in 2018 only missing out on the 2019 AFCON in Egypt as the captain of the national team.
9. Frank Kessie
Club: AC Milan
Country: Ivory Coast
Ivory coast may be blessed with a lot of gifted players but Kessie is an exceptional talent who may step up and become the replacement and heir to Yaya Toure whose time in the national team football is numbered if not over.
Kessie was a member of the CAF U17 AfCON that beat Nigeria in 2013 in the final. He went on to play in the FIFA u17 and u20 World Cup. The Milan Midfielder has played 30 times for the National side and is still one for the future
8. Victor Wanyama
Wanyama may not be as consistent as he used to be but he was sought after he posted consistent quality performances for Celtic in the Scottish league and the Uefa Champion league in the 2012 season where he scored in a group stage match against Barca.
He since then moved from Southampton and then Tottenham Hotspur in the English Premier League, of recently he is one of Kenya’s top players having played fifty-six times for the Kenyan national team and also featured at the last AFCON in Egypt
7. Keita Balde
Club: Inter Milan
Twenty-four-year-old Keita Balde featured for Senegal at the 2019 African Cup of Nations held in Egypt where they finished second behind Algeria.
The winger plays for Inter Milan in the Seria A where he is on loan from As Monaco, showing impressive performances in recent times. Despite being eligible for Spain by birth, he chose to play for Senegal where his father hails from.
6. Alex Iwobi
Alex Iwobi rose to prominence at Arsenal three years back and immediately was invited to the Nigerian national team squad where he was instrumental to the team’s qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup scoring the qualification goal against Zambia in Uyo in 2017.
He featured at the World Cup and the 2019 African Cup of Nations where he won a Bronze medal. His shock move to Everton from Arsenal, where he played in the Europa League final against Chelsea, made him the most expensive Nigerian player at Forty Million pounds.
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5. Ismael Bannecar
Club: AC Milan
One of Algeria’s french-born legion who successfully switched allegiance to the North African country, Bannecar was born in France and once featured for the European youth teams.
The former Arsenal Youngster showed potentials in London but moved to Empoli in Italy where he showed enough promise to convince AC Milan to sign him.
He switched allegiance to Algeria in 2016 and two years later in Egypt, featured at the AFCON winning the competition and as well been voted the player of the tournament. At just 22 the future looks bright.
4. Idrissa Gueye
Club: Paris Saint Germain
Another defensive midfielder who has featured for decent sides from Lille between 2010-2015 where he appeared 134 times scoring 5 times the next move was to Aston Villa where he only played for 35 games.
The Senegalese was ever-present as the Terenga Lions finished second behind Algeria at the 2019 Africa Cup cup of Nations in Egypt.
3. Thomas Partey
Club: Athletico Madrid
The Ghanaian who moved to Athletico Madrid in 2015 after various loan spells at Almeria and Mallorca, has played over 90 games since then.
The 26-year old defensive midfielder also knows how to score goals having found the back of the net 10 times in 97 games for Athletico Madrid while for the black stars he has 8 goals in about 30 games.
He won the Europa League in 2018 and the Super Cup the same year and capped it up with a CAF team of the year. Not a bad record for a defensive midfielder definitely.
2. Naby Keita
Keita shone like a million stars while at Red Bull Salzburg in Austria scoring for fun in the Uefa Europa League and Austrian league.
The Guinea national team captain certainly attracted attention from the big guns in Europe and eventually moved to Liverpool where he has become a mainstay in Jurgen Klopp starting line-up.
Club: Leicester City
It’s a doubt if there is any African midfielder who has been more consistent than Wilfred Ndidi. The Nigerian defensive midfielder rose to prominence with Genk in Belgium and then moved to Leicester City some seasons back where he has been a mainstay in the starting XI for the Club.
He ranked high in interceptions in the last two seasons and has been compared to former Leicester City midfielder Ngolo Kante and he has the glue that keeps this brilliant Leicester side together.
For Nigeria, he played at the 2019 Africa cup of Nations where the Super Eagles finished third even though he posted indifferent performances in the west African side’s run to a third-place finish. At just 24, Ndidi has been linked to the Creme de La Creme clubs in Club football and it’s evident the best has not been seen from him.
FIFA Congress To Decide Future Host Of FIFA Women’s World Cup™
Council assigns FIFA Women’s World Cup™ hosting decision to the football governing body’s Congress; also approves financial statements for 2020 and budget for 2022.
Meeting by video conference, the Council conferred to the Congress the decision to award Women’s World Cup™ hosting rights.
Until now, the decision has been taken by the FIFA Council, most recently in June 2020 when the hosting rights for the 2023 edition were awarded to Australia and New Zealand.
As the football governing body seeks to raise the profile of the women’s game, this represents a significant step to bring the Women’s World Cup in line with the flagship men’s competition.
The proposal will be put forward for a final decision by the 71st FIFA Congress, which will meet virtually (for the second time) on 21 May.
International match calendar and release of players.
The FIFA Council received a report on the international football situation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Bureau of the Council had extended to April 2021 the temporary amendments to the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players regarding the release of players for international duty, and FIFA, the confederations, and its member associations remain in dialogue with national authorities about exemptions from quarantine rules for national team players.
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The FIFA Council recognized that the highest priority in football is the health of the players, and therefore the discussion around the release of players for international duty must maintain this perspective, especially as the public health situation develops around the world.
2020 financials and 2022 budget
The Council also approved the organization’s Annual Report, which contains the financial statements for 2020 and the budget for 2022.
The FIFA Annual Report 2020 focuses on the role played by world football’s governing body in the fight against COVID-19, primarily through the unprecedented COVID-19 Relief Plan, which has made available USD 1.5 billion to support FIFA’s 211 member associations and the confederations through times of financial uncertainty.
The FIFA Annual Report 2020 is available on the official site.
FIFA Arab Cup 2021™
The Council approved the competition regulations for the FIFA Arab Cup 2021, confirming the match schedule and draw procedure for the competition taking place in Qatar from 1 to 18 December this year.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Fédération Internationale de Football Association.
Paul Onuachu: A Victim Of Tactical Deficiency
Ever wondered why Genk forward Paul Onuachu has always been a prolific figure for his club and find it hard to replicate that form with the Super Eagles when invited?
The Nigeria international has been in awesome form for the Blue-White, scoring 26 goals in the Jupiler League this season for Genk, while his scoring prowess at his club has been a contrast to his form with the national team under Gernot Rohr scoring just once in 9 games despite being a top performer at club level.
Ahead of the AFCON qualifier doubleheader against Lesotho and the Benin Republic, Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr named his 23 man list with the inform former Midtjylland forward listed as one of the standby players.
Onuachu’s struggles with the Super Eagles in previous games he featured is quite baffling, considering the excitement that greeted his first appearance with the national team plus the impressive form he’s currently in.
The job of every manager is to find a suitable position or fashion out tactics that would be suitable for their players in other to blend with the team approaches to every match. In Onuachu’s case, he hasn’t been fortunate enough to blend in with Rohr’s tactics. While at club level, Midtjylland plays to his strength.
However, due to Napoli’s players been restricted from traveling, the Genk forward made it through the backdoor to replace Gernot Rohr’s number one forward Victor Osimhen who hasn’t really hit the ground running with the ‘Partenopei‘, but when with the Eagles, he never fails to deliver.
It’s no doubt that the lanky striker has failed to deliver in his previous games, disappointing the ever-demanding Nigerian football enthusiasts with unforgiving backlashes from the fans. However, his prolific prowess with his club suggests otherwise and consistently makes a case for him to be integrated into the team with a different tactical approach that suits his style.
The era of a target man may have been long gone in football due to the advent of new tactics that have brought about a series of changes in the game. With managers preferring to go with a fast, skillful, or makeshift winger- kind of striker, instead of a target man.
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Looking at how Paul Onuachu plays with Genk upfront shows he’s one of the best target men in football, despite been perceived by many as a slow and old-fashioned kind of forward. However, John van den Bromm has been able to carve out a tactic that suits him which has been evident with his prolific form irrespective of his style of play.
Onuachu’s Super Eagle future might be on the knife-edge with Gernot Rohr not finding the right tactics that suit the Genk forward, especially with him not been consider as the go-to man despite his blistering runs of form in Belgium.
In recent times Rohr’s philosophy of vibrant attacking football with an emphasis on passing in the final third which requires the expertise of brilliant players to implement such tactics hasn’t really favored him.
Having a player in the mold of Onuachu gives Rohr another tactical option and an alternative style of play should the initial approach fails to work as expected, but the German tactician hasn’t really taken advantage of what the man could offer with a different opponent.
Onuachu’s presence in the Super Eagles team should be an added advantage in terms of variety when the normal approach of the manager fails. With an in-form striker on the bench, it could prove valuable, but in the former Midtjylland’s case, Gernot Rohr doesn’t seem to see him as a player that has a future with the national team.
Players in the mold of the Nigerian are quite physically imposing as the point man, though they may not offer the team excellent off-the-ball movement in some cases. However, they often find a way to provide an opportunity which the team could utilize when attacking or defending.
Onuachu’s inability to show a good turn of pace and smart footwork may have been one of the deficiencies that are affecting his chances of blending perfectly into the team.
However, the job of a manager is to help players blend in perfectly, and that’s exactly what Gernot Rohr should be doing. Not only for Onuachu but for every other player who are always finding it hard to replicate club form with the National Team.