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Top Ten African Defenders As At 2016-2019



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.

Faouzi Ghoulam
Country: Algeria
Club: Napoli

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

Ahmed Hegazy
Country: Egypt
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
Country: Ghana
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.

Country: Nigeria
Club: Udinese

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.

Medhi Benatia
Country: Morocco
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

Eric Baily
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

Serge Aurier
Country: Ivory Coast
Club: Tottenham

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
Country: Morocco
Club: Dortmund

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
Country: Cameroon
Club: Liverpool

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
Country: Senegal
Club: Napoli

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


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Daniel is a passionate lover of Nigerian football. Follows local football and the national teams religiously. Aside from writing, he also does Sports analysis on Radio. Write to me on or follow me on twitter@danycrusoe95

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