AFS Team of the Series 3
Nigeria and Algeria may have been the only African nations to advance to the last 16, but all of the African sides had their own star performers in the final series of group stage matches.
Here’s the third instalment of Africa Football Shop’s World Cup Team of the Series.
Vincent Enyeama: Nigeria’s shot-stopper remains in goal after pulling off several brilliant saves to keep the scoreline down for Nigeria. Castrol’s stats puts him on a staggering 9.5, making him the highest-ranked African goalie.
Kwadwo Asamoah: The Ghanian left-back was one of the shining lights for the Black Stars throughout their brief stay in Brazil. An excellent cross against Portugal was found the head of Asamoah Gyan for their only goal.
Joel Matip: The Indomitable Lion defender makes his debut here. A towering performance against hosts, Brazil, with a priceless first international goal puts him ahead of other contenders for the centre-back position.
Kenneth Omeruo: The Nigerian centre-back is getting the deserved attention for his composure and vocal command in defence. He wasn’t overrun or intimidated by the fearsome Argentine attack-line, completing four clean tackles in the process.
Serge Aurier: Cote d’Ivoire might have been eliminated from the tournament but Serge Aurier gave both scouts and fans something to remember. The imperious right-back was important for Cote d’Ivoire both in attack and in defence.
Ogenyi Onazi: The Lazio midfielder was a Trojan in midfield against Argentina. His quick-feet helped Nigeria to minimize the threats from Argentine’s pacy forwards who ended up shooting from range.
Yacine Brahimi: Algeria secured a place in the round of 16 for the first time in their history, a possibility made certain by the brilliance of the attacking-midfielder. His well-taken set-piece was perfectly placed back-post for the equalizer which was enough to see them through.
Sofiane Feghouoli: The impressive midfielder put in a mighty shift despite sustaining a head injury. He worked the channels for the Desert Warriors tirelessly, pushing the Russian defence back to ease pressure on his side.
Islam Slimani: Talk about the perfect point-man; talk about Algeria’s Islam Slimani. The Algerian wrote his name in gold with a perfect header to put his side level against Russia, which was all that was needed to book a place in the round of 16 for the first time in their history.
Asamoah Gyan: The Black Stars captain, forward and chief-entertainer scored the only goal in Ghana’s loss to Portugal. His effort credited him with legendary status after he became the top African goalscorer in World Cup finals history with six goals.
Ahmed Musa: The winger was a different animal altogether against Argentina. Messi stole the headlines with his brace, and so did Musa. His two goals for Nigeria were not enough to earn the Eagles a draw but his performance earns him a place amongst Africa’s best for the final group-stage matches.