After delays, disruptions, false rumors of cancellations, the Africa Cup of Nations has finally arrived. Fans can now relax and enjoy the three-week-long spectacle of some of the best players in the world.
While the profile of African players has never been higher, particularly those who play abroad in Africa, there is something about the competition which ensures that even the most famous of global stars end the day with legendary status in their homelands, particularly if they have a good showing on the continent.
The AFCON has been a great platform to show off players to the rest of the world.
The competition 12 has been won seven times by Egypt and two times by Algeria. With one each from Morocco, Tunisia, Sudan, and Tunisia, there have been three Arab winners.
The achievements of their footballing predecessors will be an inspiration to today’s Arab star players.
Egypt is still the top contender in the competition with seven titles won. The current players will be in big shoes, as their predecessors have provided some of the most memorable moments and teams in the competition.
Hossam Hashedan led Egypt to the 1998 title. He scored seven goals to help them to victory in Burkina Faso.
Hassan was part of the team that won the 1986 championship at home, and later won the AFCON 2006, in Cairo.
It was Egypt’s fifth title under the leadership of Hassan Shehata and marked Hassan as Hassan’s only win in the competition 20 years.
Mohamed Aboutrika was the leader of the Pharaohs in 2006 title wins and 2008, victories, when he scored Cameroon’s winning goal.
Mohamed Salah, who has been playing with Liverpool for the past few years, is undoubtedly Egypt’s greatest ever player.
He still hasn’t been able to get an AFCON, but that could be the highlight of his remarkable career.
Rabah Madjer, Lakhdar Belloumi and Rabah Madjer are two of the most prominent Algerian legends. They played both in the historic victory against West Germany at the 1982 World Cup, Spain.
Both scored 28 goals in Algeria, but it was their 1986 World Cup counterpart Djamel Menad that scored four goals to win the 1990 AFCON title. Nigeria won 1-0.
Riyad Mahrez was the standout player in the 2019 edition. He led Algeria to a second title, winning 1-0 over Senegal in Cairo.
He is now just one goal away from being the historic top scorer in the tournament’s history. Belloumi’s six-goal record could be lost in Cameroon.
Tunisia, led by Hatem Trabelsi won their only AFCON title. They beat Morocco 2-1 in 2004 at home. Trabelsi is still a prominent player for the Carthage Eagles. He has excelled at Al-Hilal in Riyadh, Manchester City, and Ajax Amsterdam.
If Tunisia’s current captain, Youssef Msakni, recovers from a positive COVID-19 test, he will lead his nation in an impressive seventh personal participation in the competition.
Ahmed Firas is a Moroccan hero who has the distinction of being part of his country’s lone AFCON victory in 1976, and also being their historic top scorer with six goals.
Today, Morocco’s star player is Achraf Hakimi (right-back at Paris Saint-Germain), who, at just 23, has enjoyed a highly successful career in Europe, playing for Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund before he moved to Paris.
He is a well-known African player and could be a star of the tournament, along with Mahrez and Salah.
The Africa Cup of Nations edition will feature seven Arab countries: Egypt, Algeria Tunisia Morocco, Sudan Sudan, Mauritania, Comoros, and Tunisia.
In immortality is waiting for one or more of their stars players.
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