AFCON 2022: Team of the tournament, best goal, best game, biggest surprise and more: Full AFCON review

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An end to what has been a fantastic African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cameroon. The competition that was scheduled to take place last year but was postponed due to Covid-19 didn’t have the best of starts, but it hit full gear in the knockout round.

At the end of 52 games, Senegal emerged victorious as they won their first AFCON trophy after beating Egypt 4-2 on penalties in the final game.

Here brings you a full review of the tournament:

Best game:

Algeria were stunned by Equatorial Guinea in their 2nd group game. The North Africa giants came into the game with a hope of extending their unbeaten run to 35 games. However, they were stunned by Equatorial Guinea courtesy a Esteban Orozco 70th minute strike. The game was never short of chances from kickoff.

Biggest Surprise:

Burkina Faso against the odds made the semifinal, Comoros made it out of a group consisting of Ghana, Gabon and Morocco, but it’s hard to overlook Gambia who made their first appearance at the AFCON and grabbed 7 points in a group that has Tunisia and Mali. The Scorpions beat Mali in the Round of 16 only to lose to host nation Cameroon in Doula in the quarterfinal. A feat which I believe was cherished by every football fan.

Biggest disappointment:

Algeria came into the tournament as holders and winners of the 2021 Arab cup. They were also unbeaten in their 34 games and were tipped by connoisseurs of the game to at least make the final. Nevertheless, they bowed out of the group stages with a point and a goal in a group that had Equatorial Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Best goal:

This time, the AFCON didn’t see many goals like it did in recent editions. However, some fantastic goals where scored and it is the goal scored by Malawi’s Mhango in the Round of 16 defeat to Morocco that caught the eye of the most. Mhango after receiving a pass from John Banda from inside Malawi’s own half cut towards goal before rifling a shot from long range. Goalkeeper Yassine Bounou was left helpless as he attempted to get a hand to Mhango’s perfectly-hit shot, with the Morocco shot-stopper only able to watch as it soared into the back of the net.

Team of the tournament:

Goalkeeper: Mohamed Abou Gabal (Egypt)

The man of the match in Sunday’s final. Mohamed Abou Gabal came into the tournament as Egypt’s second goalkeeper but stepped in after the injury to Mohamed El Shenawy. Gabaski did not concede a single goal from open play throughout his time on the field, saving 94% of the shots he faced, more than any other goalkeeper at the tournament.

Right-back: Issa Kabore – Burkina Faso

There was a number of sensational right-backs at the AFCON, talking of Collins Fai, Achraf Hakimi and so on. However, Issa Kabore had the greater attacking menace. The Manchester City owned right back featured in all 7 games for his team and played every minute. He provided 3 assists, forced an opponent to score an own goal and as well created 2 big chances. Kabore was named young player of the tournament.

Left-back: Salious Ciss – Senegal

Ciss was flying down the left flank for Senegal throughout the tournament. He gave defenders headache with his brilliant runs. The French-based left-back featured in 6 games and helped his side keep 4 clean sheets. He was equally effective at the other end of the field as he made an assist and created 3 big chances.

Center-back: Kalidou Koulibaly – Senegal

Kalidou Koulibaly hasn’t been at his for Napoli in recent months, but he dusted that off to display a captain’s performance as Senegal won their first AFCON trophy. The Napoli center-back made 5 appearances for his team at the tourney, helping his side concede just 2 goals. Koulibaly provided an assist against Burkina Faso in the semifinal and stepped up to take the first penalty in the shout-outs against Egypt. The Senegal skipper sits top on the list of accurate long balls completed per game at the tourney (9.2).

Center-Back: Edmond Tapsoba – Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso were the surprise team of the tournament, going all the way to the semifinal only to lose to eventual winners Senegal. The Stallions scored in every game but still needed to do business at the other end of the field. They had no problem doing so with Tapsoba in defense. The Bayer Leverkusen man who has attracted the interest of many elite European clubs was solid in defense for the Stallions. He wasn’t dribbled even for a single time throughout the tournament and completed the second most accurate long balls per game (7.3), a record bettered by only Koulibaly (9.2).

Midfield: Mohammed Elneny (Egypt)

Not a regular for club team, Arsenal but Elneny went on to prove to Mikel Arteta that he deserves a starting place and deserves a new contract. Elneny was like a machine in midfield for Egypt, he featured in every game and gave his side perfect defensive cover. Not surprised Egypt conceded just 2 goals throughout the tournament. Elneny was also influential in attack, completing 90% of his passes.

Midfield: Ibrahim Blati Toure (Burkina Faso)

What a performance from Ibrahim Blati Toure! The 27-year was phenomenal throughout the tournament, starting every game and playing 90 minutes in each of those games. Toure worked tirelessly in midfield for Burkina Faso and was named man of the match in three games, with two of those coming in the knockout round games against Gabon and Tunisia. He also scored a goal and provided an assist in the competition. Unfortunately, he was the villain in the third place Penalty shootouts.

Midfield: Nicolas Moumi Ngamaleu (Cameroon)

If there’s any player whose performance at this AFCON has been under appreciated, then it is Nicolas Ngamaleu. The Young Boys winger was the creative force in the Cameroon team, he created 6 big chances in the competition, 3 more than any other player and provided 2 assists. He also made 2.3 key passes, the 3rd most at the AFCON.

Forward: Toko Ekambi (Cameroon)

With 5 goals, no player bar Vincent Aboubakar scored more goals at the AFCON than Toko Ekambi. The Lyon forward’s contribution in the team was overlooked due to Vincent Aboubakar’s remarkable form. Toko Ekambi stepped up to carry the burden when Aboubakar wasn’t at his best.

Forward: Vincent Aboubakar (Cameroon)

Eight goals and an assist, that would have at least been enough to win any team the competition but that wasn’t it for Aboubakar as his team finished in 3rd place in an emphatic manner. The former Porto striker was his team’s live wire throughout the tournament, contributing to 64% of their goals. Aboubakar finished the tournament as top scorer.

Forward: Sadio Mane (Senegal)

Scored from a spot-kick in the first game of the tournament against Zimbabwe and was merely a passenger in the remaining two group games. Mane came to the party in the knockout round and was nearly unplayable. He finished the tournament with 3 goals and 2 assists. Mane missed a penalty in the final, but dusted that off to score the final penalty that brought glory to his country. The Liverpool man was named player of the tournament.

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