African football has witnessed some of the greatest footballers to ever graced the field of play with their talents. The football world cannot forget in a hurry what the likes of late Rashidi Yekini brought to the table in terms of goals scored, the skill and flair of midfield maestro Jay-Jay Okocha.
The silky play of Madelaine Ngono Mani of Cameroon, the mind-blowing scoring prowess of Perpetual Nwkocha, the intelligent defensive display of Janine van Wyk of South Africa, the energetic play and goals scoring ability of Samuel Etoo, the power play of Didier Drogba, the mesmerizing play of Nwankwo Kanu, and many other African footballers to ever play the round leather game.
These are the few leading African football stars to have played the round leather game, however, there are many football stars to have played football both on the continent and Europe and who have achieved success with both clubs and countries, and made themselves a gladiator which many young and aspiring footballers could learn one or two things from with what they’ve achieved with respective careers.
So in this piece, Cheapgoals will look at African football stars who actually turned themselves to a gladiator, not because of anything but because of what they achieved in their various careers.
Kanu Nwankwo – Nigeria
Charity they say begins at home, and definitely, that’s what it’s was for Kanu, when he started his football career proper at Iwuanyanwu Nationale in the Nigerian league, following his U17 World Championship before he now moved down to Europe to forged ahead in his career with Ajax Amsterdam of Netherlands, where he won the Champions League in 1995 against the Almighty star-studded Milan side, scoring over 25 goals in 54 appearances for the Eredivise side.
Papillo also had a stint with Inter Milan, when he moved from Ajax for a fee reported to be around $4.7million, unfortunately for Kanu, he couldn’t continue his career with the Nerazzurri after he was diagnosed of heart disease, following his breathtaking performance at the Olympic where churned like a million stars against the star-studded Samba Boys of Brazil.
After a successful surgery to replace an aortic valve, Kanu returned to play football again in 1997, but couldn’t really play so many matches for Inter, playing just twelve games and one goal for the Italian side, he left for Arsenal in 1999 where he went on to become a legend and very popular among the Gunners fans, he won the 2003 FA Cup with them, the Premier League with the invincible side, and he played over 197 games, scoring 44 goals.
Kanu recorded success at the international level winning the Olympic where he churned like a million stars against the Samba Boys of Brazil, he also won the U17 Championship in Japan against arch-rival Ghana, and he was also crowned two times African footballer of the year, with all of this success achieved by Kanu is no doubt one of the living football gladiators in Africa.
Janine Van Wyk – South Africa
Van Wyk launched herself to the scene when she scored a stunning free-kick against the Super Falcons when South Africa got their first victory over Nigeria since the national team was established in 1993, her brilliant goal knocked out the Falcons from the 2012 AWCON, and she also played at the Summer Olympic in London. Booth, as she’s called in South Africa, had over 150 match appearances for the Bayana Bayana, and she became the first captain to lead her team to the World Cup in South African history.
Her club career was also filled with lots of success stories, she had stint Moroka Swallows, and later on, she joined Palace Super Falcons from Tembisa where she won three consecutive league titles, Van Wyk also played with Houston Dash in the National Women’s Soccer League playing over 20 matches before she left the team to join a Danish club side, Fortuna Hjorring in 2019, and in January 2020 she announced that she had agreed to terminate her deal with the club so she could return home to focus on rehabilitation.
Van Wyk may not have won the AWCON or the African Footballers of the year for the female category, however, she’s one of the top football players that has graced the field of play with her talent and her leadership skills when leading the Bayana Bayana of South Africa, and she remains one of the football gladiators the game has ever seen.
Samuel Eto’o – Cameroon
The Cameroonian is well known for his fast, strong, and energetic play when still very active, Etoo’s stamina, work rate, ability in the air and his accurate finishing is definitely one thing that distinguishes him among other forwards ever to come from Africa, he started his European football career outside Africa with Real Madrid as a 16year old lad, but couldn’t tie down a starting shirt with the team, so he had to go on several loan spells before finally joining Mallorca in 2000 where he showed the world that he has come to stay, scoring over 70goals for Mallorca.
Eto’o joined Barcelona in 2004 following his impressive performance with Mallorca, he went on to scored 130 goals for the Catalan giant in five seasons and also became the record holder for the most number of seasons appearances by an African player in La Liga, Eto’o won three league titles with Barcelona, won two champions league in 2006 and 2009 scoring in both finals. In 2010 he signed for Inter Milan and became the first player to win two European continental trebles following his back to back achievement with Barcelona.
The former Chelsea forward also had brief spells with Anzhi, Sampdoria, Antalyaspor scoring over 44 goals in 76 league games for the Turkish based side, he also had a stint with Chelsea, Everton, Konyaspor and Qatar SC towards the tail end of his retirement, however, his international stories were also packed with success both on the continent and Europe, won the African footballer of the year for the fourth time in 2010, won the Afcon twice in 2000 and 2002, coupled with lots of titles won by this great African footballer just to mention few.
Asisat Oshoala – Nigeria
The current African footballer of the year is the new face of Women football in Nigeria and Africa, Oshoala broke into the scene in 2014 when she emerged as the most valuable player and the highest goal scorer in the Women U20 World Cup where Nigeria finished as runners up to Germany and since then she hasn’t looked back churning out impressive performances for club and country.
Oshoala led the Super Falcons to a record eighth African women championship in Namibia, she won the MVP award as well as ending in second place on the top scorer log behind her compatriot Operanozie as the Super Falcons coasted home with the trophy, the Barcelona’s forward success story didn’t stop there, she was also crowned as the African Women player of the year in 2014, and that performance got her the move to Liverpool Ladies in England from Rivers Angels.
In 2015, she was named BBC Women’s footballer of the year, Oshoala has achieved so much despite the fact that she’s still young and she has been firing from all cylinders in the Spanish league feminine, no doubt the Barcelona forward would still achieve more success if she keeps her head down with a steady consistency.
Didier Drogba – Ivory Coast
The Ivorian former captain was well known with Marseille in the French Ligue1, where he finished as the third-highest goalscorer in the 2003-04 season with 19 goals to his name and he also took the team to final of the then UEFA Cup final against Rafael Benitez led side Valencia, although he also had a stint with Le Mans and Guingamp when he was still very young before signing a professional contract with Marseille.
In 2012, Drogba became the first African player to score 100 Premier League goals for the London side, he won the FA Cup with Chelsea against Liverpool a match which he scored in to become the first player to score in four separate FA Cup finals, he was also instrumental in Chelsea’s quest to win the Champions League against Bayern Munich, a final that was decided via shoot out. Drogba also had a stint with Shanghai Shenhua, Galatasaray winning the Turkish Super Cup before he made his second return with the Blues, he also continued his journey towards the twilight of his career at Montreal Impact playing over 40 matches in two seasons and scoring 23 goals.
The former African player of the year also has a rich record with his national team, he captained the Elephants from 2006 until his retirement been the national team all-time goalscorer with 65 goals and 105 appearances, having led the team to the 2006 FIFA World Cup which was the nation first appearance in the tournament, Drogba wasn’t lucky enough to win the Afcon in 2006 and 2012 as his team were beaten via penalties on both occasions.
Jay-Jay Okocha (Nigeria)
A quick and skillful playmaker, who is considered as the best Nigerian (albeit arguably) and one of the best African players of all time, Okocha was known for his confidence with the ball, technique, creativity, and dribbling skills, as well as his use of feints, in particular the stepover.
He earned the honor of being named the “Best Nigerian Football Player” several times, in 1995, 1997, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005. In total, Jay-Jay Okocha scored 85 goals in a total of 454 matches. His specialty was the use of feints, especially the stepover. There is a famous line, that describes Jay-Jack Okocha: “So good, that they named him twice.” This line has its origins in the time when he played for the Bolton Wanderers.
Okocha netted for the Super Eagles 14 times in 74 appearances across international competitions, like the 1998 Fifa World Cup, Olympic Games 1996 in Atlanta and Africa Cup of Nations to just name a few. He also played during the 1994 FIFA World Cup, only losing against Italy, who were one of the favorite teams to win the competition.
Tabitha Chawinga – Malawi
Chawinga is arguably the most lethal goal poacher on the continent, with no domestic titles to show for it perhaps due to where she hailed from which isn’t one of the biggest African football playing country in women football, this has done a lot of damage to Chawinga’s chances of winning the African Women player of the year despite all her scoring prowess for her club side, had it been Malawi were on the continental tournament, perhaps that may have boosted her chances, however, Chawinga remains one of the best goal scorer ever to come from the continent of Africa.
As the first Malawian footballer to ever play abroad, she never disappoints her fans as she turned out to be a goalscoring machine in Sweden when she scored 123 goals in three seasons winning the top scorer award twice and likewise in the Damallsvensken where she also scored 26 goals for Kvarnsvedens in 2017.
Chawinga moved to Jiangsu Suning in China from the back of her impressive performance with the Scandinavian clubs in Europe, in her debut season she emerged as the top scorer with 17 goals as her new club finished as runners up in the Chinese women league, the following season she scored 38 goals to help Suning to a domestic quadruple and a silver medal at the inaugural Asian Women’s Club Championship.
The Jiangsu Suning forward was shortlisted for the 2019 African Women’s Player of the year award with the likes of Asisat Oshoala, unfortunately for her, she lost the gong to the Nigerian queen.
George Weah (Liberia)
Widely regarded as one of the greatest African players of all time, in 1995, he was named FIFA World Player of the Year and won the Ballon d’Or, becoming the first and to date only African player to win these awards.
After beginning his career in his home country of Liberia, Weah spent 14 years playing for clubs in France, Italy, and England. Arsène Wenger first brought him to Europe, signing him for Monaco in 1988.
At the international level, Weah represented Liberia at the African Cup of Nations on two occasions, winning 53 caps and scoring 13 goals for his country. He played an international friendly in 2018 where his number 14 jersey was retired.
In 1989, 1994 and 1995, he was also named the African Footballer of the Year, and in 1996, he was named African Player of the Century. Known for his acceleration, speed, and dribbling ability, in addition to his goalscoring and finishing, Weah was described by FIFA as “the precursor of the multi-functional strikers of today”.
Weah became involved in politics in Liberia following his retirement from football and was elected President of Liberia in the 2017 election, defeating the incumbent Vice President Joseph Boakai. A total of 194 goals in 413 appearances were scored for the clubs he played for, while he scored 13 times in 54 matches for the Liberian National Team.
Perpetua Nkwocha – Nigeria
Perpetua remains one of the greatest female African football stars ever to grace the field of play from Africa, she earned her legendary status by participating in seven Caf Women’s Championship from 2002 to 2014 and in all of those championships she was very instrumental in Super Falcons quest to win the tournament.
She was voted African Women’s Footballer of the year in 2004, 2005, 2010 and 2011 making her the first player to win the gong four time before Oshoala equaled her records in 2019, the former Falcons forward also participated in four FIFA World Women’s Cup as well as the Olympic in Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, and Beijing 2008.
Perpetua impressive success wasn’t only about the continent, she also took her brilliant performance to Europe where she churned like a million stars, Perpetua played for Swedish side Sunnana SK from 2007-14, up till now she remains one the most respected foreign player in Sweden, not because of anything but due what she did while playing in the female league.
John Mikel Obi – Nigeria
Mikel came into limelight at the U17 World Championship in Finland where he announced himself as the next big thing to watch out for in the world of football, his talent didn’t only show in Finland, it also comes to fore in the Netherlands at the FIFA World Youth Championship where he had an excellent tournament till Nigeria got to the final before they lost to Argentina and Mikel was voted the second-best player at tournament going home with the Silver Ball.
The former Chelsea midfield marshal also had an awesome club career with the Blues, where he won a lot of titles winning the premier league and the league cup with the Mourinho led playing as a holding midfielder, a position which he has grown into to become specialist.
Mikel might not have won the FIFA World Cup, but then with what he achieved on the international level and with his club, he will always be in the conversation of the greatest player ever to come out of the continent with what he achieved.
Elizabeth Addo – Jiangsu Suning
Addo is no doubt Ghana most successful female footballer in history well known for her fantastic scoring ability, Addo started her career with Tesano Ladies in 2006, before she went on to play for Nigerian club Rivers Angels, Spartak Subotica in Serbia, Ferencvaros of Hungry and Kvarnsvedens of Sweden.
She also had a stint with Seattle Reign and Sydney Wanderers, but most of her club success came with Jiangsu Suning where she won a quadruple with the Chinese side as well as a silver medal at the Asian Women’s Club Championship in her debut season.
Addo international career wasn’t as impressive as that of her club career, but then her sacrifices for the Black Queens had been top-notch since she started playing for them from her tender age at U14, U17, U20, and U23 national team, she made her debut with the senior team in 2012 and she has earned over 26 caps with ten goals to her name.
Mohamed Aboutrika (Egypt)
Aboutrika won the African Cup of Nations in 2006 with the Egyptian national team. He also scored the winning goal to help Egypt win the2008 Africa Cup of Nations. He helped his club Al Ahly to win the bronze medal in the FIFA Club World Cup in 2006.
Mohamed during his playing days never played for any club outside Egypt and that’s one peculiar thing he’d forever be remembered for; despite that, he was named the World’s Most Popular Footballer of the year on two consecutive occasions (2007 and 2007).
His off-field lifestyle is also a major part that has inspired many people. He’s played some humanitarian roles in the life of some less privileged in Egypt. He once said “Every athlete has a humanitarian role in society. He doesn’t live solely for himself, but for others, too. I like to participate in charity work and try my best to help the poor and penniless. I’m also seeking to use soccer in humanitarian work.”
Known for his ingenuity at interpreting tactics as a player and an analyst, Aboutreika is the fourth Egyptian to join the leading Qatari channel beIN Sports. He is currently working as a football analyst for several domestic and international leagues in Europe, alongside with the exclusively broadcast AFCONand CAF Champions League.
Roger Mila (Cameroon)
Another Cameroonian who made this list is Roger who at the age of 38 (which most players are already retired) rose to stardom after helping the Indomitable Lion become the first African team to reach the World Cup quarter-finals in FIFA 1990 World Cup. Generally, Milla was capped 63 times for the national team and he scored 37 goals.
Interestingly, Mila is one of the highest-scoring African Players in Europe with 111 goals in 312 matches. Individual accolades won by Roger include African Footballer of the Year (1976 and 1990), CAF Best African Player of the last 50 years (2007), Africa Cup of Nations Best Player (1986) amongst others.
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.