AFS Team Of The Week 23.04.14
The Team of the Week returns as AFS Editor Ed Dove chooses his finest African performers from the weekend’s games.
As the major European leagues come to an end, the competition for points has become feverish. Numerous African players have been key protagonists in recent fixtures, and the best of them are celebrated here.
The first thing that strikes me about the latest Team of the Week is the heart of the midfield. There is a distinctly North African feel to it.
Ryad Boudebouz and Adel Taarabt are creative midfielders of whom great things were expected in their early years. Both men have enjoyed their fair share of hardship and there have been times when even I, a great supporter of the pair, have feared that they might drift into the obscurity reserved for so many of their ilk.
However, having left Sochaux and Fulham/QPR respectively, there are signs that the prodigious pair might be back on the right track.
The Algerian has lost his place in the national team and has taken his time to adapt to the demands of life in Corsica, with Bastia. However, this weekend he delivered a performance that reminded many of his talents; he played a key role in the first goal with a pertinent pass, before setting up his team-mates with numerous delicious crosses. It was his free-kick that led to Sebastien Squillaci’s 88th-minute winner.
It was a goal that condemned Bastia’s local rivals Ajaccio to the second tier of French football.
At the San Siro, Taarabt scored his first goal in front of the home fans, linking well with Mario Balotelli and Robinho. His fine form in Lombardy has seen him linked with an unlikely £7 million move to Manchester United.
Elsewhere in France, Vincent Enyeama claimed another clean sheet with Lille, while Bordeaux forward Cheick Diabate scored a hat-trick against relegation-threatened Guingamp.
Notably, two World Cup-bound forwards also starred over the weekend.
Wilfried Bony’s brace at St James’ Park condemned Newcastle to a fifth-straight Premier League defeat. The Ivorian scored at the end of both halves to secure three points that pull Swansea away from the relegation zone.
Could he repeat the trick with the Cote d’Ivoire this summer?
Vincent Aboubakar’s fantastic season continued with two goals in second half stoppage time to secure a miraculous 4-4 draw for Lorient against Montpellier. The Cameroon forward remains behind only Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the French top scorer charts.