Defenders are rarely revered in the beautiful game of football particularly in a generation where African strikers are ruling club football in Europe.
Being a defender is at times an unpleasant assignment. The best sign of the men at the back carrying out their responsibility is the point at which they go ecstatically unnoticed through the whole 90 minutes.
Fortunately, this is an age where so many coaches demand their players passing the ball out from the back. Obviously, defending has changed an awful part as of late. strikers are now quicker, increasingly skillful and perhaps the greatest challenge for defenders, progressively inclined to going down under pressure.
In the event that they start to stand out as truly newsworthy, except if it is for scoring, that is when alarm bells start going off. For decisively that reason, the best teams have defenders that give a steady grapple and make life easier for those further up the pitch.
Today at CheapGoals we take a look at ten exceptional stoppers in the African game in the past couple of years. Here they are in no particular order.
One of Algeria’s french contingent, born and raised in France, Ghoulam chose to represent Algeria and since 2013, he has made 35 appearances and scored 5 goals for the North Africans.
He has also played much of his club football with Saint Etienne and Napoli, the former who he represented from 2008 to 2014 before he moved to the latter and has been there ever since. He is one of the best left-backs you can find in Africa
Club: West Brom
Hegazy was part of the 2009 U20 FIFA world Cup hosted on home ground, although they failed to make any meaningful impact, the team produced a lot of individual talents which includes the likes of Mo’Salah.
He has featured 59 times for the Pharaohs including an appearance at the 2017 AFCON Final and the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
He moved from Al-Ahly straight to West Brom when they were still Premier League Campaigners in 2017. Although, they still remain in the Championship Hegazy is still part of the team who are pulling to promote this season alongside another rising defender, Semi Ajayi
Abdul Rahman Baba
Club: Mallorca(on loan from Chelsea)
Rahman rose quickly from a young prospect playing in the Ghanaian Premier League to signing for Greuther Furth in the German league in 2012.
He was later snapped up by Chelsea in 2015 after impressing in Augsburg, the team he moved to Chelsea from Furth, for a fee reported that could rise to 22million naira.
Although he has been shipped on loan to several clubs including Schalke in Germany, Reims in France and now in Mallorca, he impressed at most In Germany in 2018. He was part of the Ghanaian team that got to the final of the 2015 AFCON.
Troost-Ekong was born in the Netherlands but after few appearances for the Dutch youth teams, he featured for Nigeria, winning the 2016 Olympics Silver medal in Brazil. He also played in Belgium for Gent and Bursaspor in Turkey
Later on, his impressive displays got him a call-up to the Super Eagles of Nigeria where he formed a key partnership with Leon Balogun as the Nigerians qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and the 2019 African Cup of Nations, the very first in six years.
Recently, he moved to Italy with Udinese in Italy and he has also become a mainstay in the Super Eagles starting eleven and as a result, is seen as a potential captain of the side in the future according to Gernot Rhor.
He played in the team’s run to the third-place finish in the AFCON and a group stage finish at the world cup.
Club: Al Duhail (Qatar)
The Moroccan Captain has had an illustrious career playing for Roma, Bayern, and Juventus just to mention a few.
Although his time may be winding down at 32 years of age, his quality was never in doubt winning league titles with Bayern and Juventus.
He also featured for the Moroccan national team where he got to play in the FIFA World Cup in Russia 2018 and also has over 50 appearances for the Moroccan national team which he captains
Country: Ivory Coast
Club: Manchester United
Eric Bailly moves to United three years ago and the Ivorian centre-back won the Africa Cup of Nations in 2015 the same year he made his international debut for the elephants.
He had played for Espanyol and Villarreal in the Spanish la Liga and his impressive performances got him a move to United in 2016 where he had an impressive season under Jose Mourinho in the side.
An ankle injury in 2018 has hindered 25-year old performances and appearances in the Red Devils shirt. During the pre-season tour of Asia in 2019, he also got a long-term injury which has so far sidelined him.
Barring any re-occurrence of injury in the future, Baily is expected to grow into one of Africa’s best defenders in recent times.
READ ALSO: 6 Of The Best African Strikers Of All Time
Country: Ivory Coast
Serge Aurier has had an impressive club career so far playing for Paris Saint-Germain in the French League 1 before making a move to Tottenham Hotspur in the English Premier League.
He was twice named in the team of the season twice in league 1 and won the Africa Cup of Nations in 2015 with the Ivory Coast.
The right-back is currently a starter in the Tottenham Hotspurs team and was a part of the team that got to the finals of the 2019 UEFA Champions League final against Liverpool. He also played at the 2014 FIFA World Cup and has registered over 50 appearances for the elephants
Achraf Hakimi at just 20 years old has won the UEFA Champions League with Real Madrid and is currently playing for Borussia Dortmund in the German Bundesliga on loan from the Spanish side.
He can play in any position as a right-back and also sometimes as a centre-back, he was part of the Moroccan team to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia and has a big future ahead of him.
There is hardly as anyway you would mention top defenders in Africa at this moment and Hakimi will not be in the top five.
Joel Matip may not have featured for Cameroon in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations after he retired from the Indomitable Lions in 2016, he, however, can’t be overlooked when it comes to ranking defenders from Africa.
He played for Liverpool in the Uefa Champions League-winning the trophy in 2019 as well as the Uefa super cup. Born in Germany, he grew through the ranks in Schalke 04 making over 200 appearances before his move to Germany.
In Germany he won the DFB Pokal in 2010/2011, he initially turned Cameroon down for the AFCON in 2010, he later rescinds his decision and made it in time for the 2010 world cup.
He also played at the FIFA World Cup in 2014 but has retired from national team duties but still features for Liverpool.
Kalidou Koulibaly is Africa’s best defender at this point, the left-back who plays in Italy for Napoli has been linked with moves to Europe’s best and biggest sides.
The Senegalese played at the 2018 FIFA World Cup and also played in the team reached the finals of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.
This season in Napoli has been a regular place in the starting XI and it would not be surprising if he makes a move in the next coming season to a top site
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.
READ ALSO: Mosengo-Omba Is CAF New General Secretary
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.
READ ALSO: Super Eagles: 9 Players Who Netted On Debut
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.