Pulse List 2017: Best African XI of the year

Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah

African players who had massive impacts at their respective clubs and countries.

The football talent pool in Africa is insane, thousands of players from the continent standing toe to toe with the best in the world. It’s from these best that we draw up the best African XI of the Year.

African players who had massive impacts at their respective clubs-either local or foreign- and countries in 2017.

These are the best African XI of 2017.

Formation: 3-4-3

Goalkeeper: Zouheir Laaroubi (Morocco/Wydad Athletic Club)

 

2017 was not a great year for African goalkeepers after the era of some of the greatest from the continent, like Vincent Enyeama, Carlos Kameni and Essam El-Hadary.

Amidst the absence of a breakout African goalkeeping star, Zouheir Laaroubi makes a case to be the best of the year.

Laaroubi kept the post for Wydad Athletic Club as they won the Moroccan League and CAF Champions League double.

Defence: Ahmed Hegazi (Egypt/West Brom)

 

Pulse Sports could not choose any full-back for this Pulse List 2017 hence the decision to set-up this list in a 3-4-3 formation.

Ahmed Hegazi takes up the right side of this XI’s central defence after a fantastic 2017. Hegazi won the Egyptian league this year with Al Ahly before joining West Brom in the summer on a loan deal.

At West Brom, the Egyptian defender quickly became a fans’ favourite due to his Man of the Match performances.

Inevitably, links to Liverpool and Leicester City trailed his impressive performances for West Brom, The Baggies have however signed him to a permanent deal sparking celebrations among fans.

With Egypt, he also had a good year, playing in all of their games as they got to the final of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) where they eventually lost to Ghana.

In 2017, he played three 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, helping the Pharaohs to their first World Cup tournament since 1990.

Defence: Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal/Napoli)

 

Kalidou Koulibaly is not just one of the best in Africa, but one of the most sought-after defenders in world football. He had a solid 2017 and was massive for Napoli who finished third in the Serie A in the 2016/2017 season.

In the summer,, he was linked to big European clubs like Chelsea but remained with Napoli.

For Senegal he still had an impressive year, helping them to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Defence: Medhi Benatia (Morocco/Juventus)

 

After playing fringe roles for Juventus, Medhi Benatia rose to become one of their main defenders in 2017.

For Morocco led from the back as they got to the quarter-final of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) and also qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

After winning the Serie A and Coppa Italia double with Juventus in the 2016/2017 season, he has become an even more important player, featuring in the defence that has kept several clean sheets in the Serie A this season.

Wing-back: Victor Moses (Nigeria/Chelsea)

 

Victor Moses had one of his best years in 2017 helping Chelsea to a Premier League title and the Super Eagles of Nigeria to 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification.

Moses was converted to a right wing-back by Chelsea coach Antonio Conte who won the title thanks to the success of this three-man defence set-up.

From the right, the Nigeria international gave them width and balance; he was also disciplined in defence.

For the Super Eagles, it was a completely new role for Moses who was Nigeria’s star man up front. He ended up in CAF’s best XI of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying series.

Left Wing-Back: Faouzi Ghoulam (Algeria/Napoli)

 

Faouzi Ghoulam had a good year as a left back for Napoli in 2017 but is included in this list as a wing-back in the three-man defence set-up.

He was a consistent performer for Napoli last season and has continued to impress in the current season.

Midfield: Wilfred Ndidi (Nigeria/Leicester City)

 

One of Africa’s break-out stars of 2017, Wilfred Ndidi joined Premier League side Leicester City in January and has put in a consistent shift since then.

Ndidi has missed just one league game in 2017 and is also one of the first names on Leicester City starting XI under three coaches.

For the Super Eagles of Nigeria, he was also massive, starting all of their games in their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

Naby Keita (Guinea/RB Leipzig)

 

2017 was Naby Keita’s year following his sensational season with RB Leipzig. With Keita doing a madness in midfield, RB Leipzig stunned the whole of Europe, finishing second in the Bundesliga just in their debut season in Germany’s top flight.

His sensational season earned him a £55m move to Liverpool from the summer of 2018.

Forward: Sadio Mane (Liverpool/Senegal)

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Despite a series of injuries, Sadio Mane remains one of the best African players this year. His impressive season helped Liverpool to finish fourth place, beating Arsenal to the last Champions League slot.

He was also Senegal’s leading player as the qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Striker: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon/ Borussia Dortmund)

 

Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang lit up the Bundesliga in 2017 and finished the 2016/2017 season with 31 goals beating Robert Lewandowski to win the league’s Golden Boot.  He is the first African to top the Bundesliga's scoring chart.

He finished his impressive season winning the German Cup with Dortmund who beat Bayern Munich on their way to the final.

Forward: Mohamed Salah (Egypt, Liverpool)

 

Mohamed Salah has been one of the most exciting forwards in world football in 2017. Last season he was Roma’s best player, scoring 15 league goals and leading them to an impressive second place with 87 points, their highest so far in history even more than 75 they got when they last won the Serie A title in 2001.

He also scored three goals in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) helping Egypt to reach the final where they lost to champions Cameroon. He was the hero for Egyptian after he led them to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the first since 1990; Salah scored five goals in the qualifying series.

After moving to Liverpool, Salah has continued with his insane form, scoring 20 goals already including 14 in the Premier League.

He has already won the BBC African Player if the Year award and is overwhelming favourite to win the CAF Player of the Year honour.

Author: Steve Dede

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