Saturday, November 22, 2014

North Africa Greatest All-Time 23 member team

Morocco 1994
North Africa probably is best remembered for Algeria 1982, Morocco 1986 and Morocco 1998.  Egypt also made history when they won the most African cup of Nations and three straight Cups in the 2000's.

The rest of Africa is divided into Northern Africa(including Sudan) and Sub-Saharan Africa. This is my all-time 23 member team for North African countries. If there were an All-Time World Cup, this would be the 23 players I would bring to the tournament.  

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.
Africa All-Time Team

GhanaCameroonNigeriaSouth AfricaTunisia
AlgeriaMoroccoEgyptIvory CoastSenegal,
North Africa
The Rest of Africa(excluding Cameroon, Senegal, Ghana, Ivory Coast, South Africa, Nigeria and North Africa).

The infamous 2009 World Cup Qualifying Playoff match between Egypt and Algeria

GK: Badou Ezzaki (Morocco)
Better known as Zaki, Badou Ezzaki was the African Player of the Year in 1986 after leading Morocco to the second round of the World Cup Finals in Mexico.  He also enjoyed a successful career with Mallorca in Spain.  He also played for Association Salé, Wydad Casablanca and Fath Union Sport during a 17-year professional career.  In 2006, Zaki was selected by the Confederation of African Football as one of the best 200 African footballers of the last 50 years.
Badou Ezzaki
GK : Essam El-Hadary (Egypt)
EL-Hadary was the starting keeper for Egypt's treble titles at the African Cup of Nations. He won four African Cup of Nations: 1998, 2006, 2008 and 2010.  He was chosen the best keeper in 2006, 2008 and 2010.  At the age of 45, he became the oldest player ever to make ahis debut in a WC Finals history during Russia 2018. From 1996 to 2008, he played with Al Ahly. From 2008 onward, he played for many clubs, including briefly with FC Sion in Switzerland.

Essam El-Hadary
Essam El-Hadary
GK: Sadok Sassi (Tunisia)
Sadok Sassi is considered one of the greatest players ever from his country.  He made his national team debut as a teenager.  However, he missed the 1978 world Cup Finals through an injury.  In a sixteen-years career, Sassi earned an impressive five league titles, eight cups, including three for Tunisia and the Maghreb. In 1972, he was goalkeeper for the African team at the mini-World Cup, hosted by Brazil.

Essam El-Hadary
Essam El-Hadary
RB: Hatem Trabelsi (Tunisia)
Hatem Trabelsi has represented the Tunisia  in three World Cups, gaining a total of 66 cap.  He was a part of the national team's 2004 African Nations' Cup winning team. He spent 6 years with Ajax, where he was regarded as one of the best rightback playing in Europe and probably the most well-known player from his country. He has also played for CS Sfaxien, Manchester City and Al-Hilal Riyadh. 
CB: Wael Gomaa (Egypt)
Wael Gomaa was one of the best African centerback of his generation and perhaps all-time.  He was a key player for Egypt as they won three straight African Cup of Nations in 2006, 2008 and 2010.  At the international level, he had 117 caps for Egypt between 2001 and 2013.  He spent most of his career with Al Ahly.  He won six CAF Champions' league and 8 domestic leagues with the club.  

CB: Medhi Benatia (Morocco)
At the time of writing, he is considered one of the top center-backs in Africa.  He began his career at Marseille. He first made a name with Udinese and then, Roma, where he was a top defender in the Serie A.  In the summer of 2014, he joined Bayern Munich, but he saw limited action in Germany.  In 2016, he was sent on loan to Juventus and later signed a permanent move. He serves as the captain of the national team.

Wael Gomaa
CB:  Noureddine Naybet (Morocco)
Naybet was one of the best African defender ever.  He played a record 115 matches for the Moroccan national team, representing the country in two World Cups and six Africa Cup of Nations tournaments. He spent most successful period of his career with Deportivo La Coruña in Spain. He won the 1999-2000 league title with them. He was one of the best center-back in La Liga. 

Essam El-HadaryRB: Hertem Trabelsi (Tunisia)
CB: Hany Ramzy (Egpyt)
Hany Ramzy was one of the most successful Egyptian to play football in Europe.  He began with Al-Ahly's first team. In 1990, he joined Neuchâtel Xamax. He then spent over 10 seasons in Germany. He became the first Egyptian to play in the Bundesliga when he joined Werder Bremen in 1994.  He moved to Kaiserslautern in 1998.  Then, he spent a season with 1. FC Saarbrücken. He earned over 120 caps.  He went to the World Cup Finals in 1990 as a young player.
Hany Ramzy
Essam El-HadaryCB: Noureddine Naybet
LB: Salem Ben Miloud (Morocco)
Salem Ben Miloud started his career in Morocco with Wydad Casablanca.  He moved to France in 1946.  He spent 10 seasons with Olympique de Marseille, winning the league title once in 1948. He played a single season with Toulouse FC before retiring. He retired from football before Morocco played its first international game in 1957. He was uncapped.

DM: Rifaat El-Fanagily (Egpyt)
Rifaat El-Fanagily was born in 1936.  He is considered one of the best Egyptian players of all-time.  He made his national team debut in 1956.  He won the 1957 and 1959 Africa Cup of Nations, and represented his country in the 1960 and 1964 Summer Olympics, playing under the United Arab Republic banner on both occassions. At the domestic club level, Rifaat El-Fanagily played for Al Ahly during his career between 1955 and 1967.

CM: Nasr El-Din Abbas (Sudan)
Nasr El-Din Abbas is considered to be Sudan's greatest player.  His nickname was Jaxa. He led Sudan to finish as the champion of the 1970 African Cup of Nations and also the runner-up in 1963The result was the greatest ever for the nation of Sudan.  At the club level, Nasr El-Din Abbas spent his entire career playing for Al Hilal Educational Club in Sudan between 1963 and 1976.

CM/DM: Abderrahman Mahjoub (Morocco)
Born in Morocco, he represented France at the World Cup Finals in 1954. He captained Morocco at the 1962 World Cup.  Known as Prince du Parc (Prince of the Park) in his playing days for his dominant control of the midfield, was one of the best Arab players of his generation, and one of the few who graced the sports fields of Europe in the 1950s and 1960s. He was a long time member of Racing Club of Paris.

AM Lakhdar Belloumi (Algeria)
Lakhdar Belloumi is considered to be the best Algerian player of all-time.  He scored one of the goals that beat West Germany at the 1982 World Cup Finals. He is voted as the 4th best African player of the century.  He holds the record as the most capped Algerian player with 147 national caps.  He won the African Player of the Year award in 1981. He also played in the 1980 Olympic Games. Despite interests from European clubs, he stayed in Algeria during his career. 
Lakhdar Belloumi 
AM: Mohamed Timoumi (Morocco)
Mohamed Timoumi was named African Footballer of the Year in 1985. He represented Morocco 46 times.  Morocco reached the second round of the 1986 World Cup. At the club level, Mohammed Timoumi won the CAF Champions League with FAR Rabat. He also played abroad in Spain and Belgium after 1986 World Cup Finals.  In 2006, he was selected by CAF as one of the best 200 African football players of the last 50 years. 

RW: Riyad Mahrez (Algeria)
Born in France, Riyad Mahrez joined Leicester from La Harve in 2014.  He helped Leicester Town to win the Premiership in 2015-2016.  He won the PFA Players' Player of the Year, and was a member of the Premier League PFA Team of the Year as he helped Leicester City win the Premier League.  In 2018, he joined Manchester City. For the national team, he was eligible to play for France. He was selected to play for Algeria at Brazil 2014, but only played in one match. 
Riyad Mahrez
FW/AM:  Saleh Selim (Egpyt)
Nicknamed El Maestro, Saleh Selim was a legend in Egypt.  He spent a season with Grazer AK ins Austria, which was considered a break through in Egyptians playing in Europe.  He won the African Cup of Nations in 1959.  He won 11 league titles with Al Ahly.  After his retirement, he was elected the President of the club due to his popularity.

AM: Tarak Dhiab (Tunisia)
Tarak Dhiab was probably the most famous footballer from Tunisia. He won the African Footballer of the Year in 1977.  He led Tunisia to World Cup Finals in 1978, when Tunisia became the first African countries to win a World Cup match.  He was widely considered one of the best players from his country.  He was chosen the Tunisian footballer of the 20th century.  He played mainly for Espérance Sportive de Tunis. From 1978 to 1980, he played in Saudi Arabia with Al-Ahli Saudi FC.
Tarak Dhiab
FW:  Ahmed Faras (Morocco)
Ahmed Faras is considered to be the greatest Moroccan player of all-time.  He was named African Footballer of the Year in 1975.  He was captain of Morocco for 8 years.  He won the African Cup of Nations in 1976.  He also played in the 1970 World Cup Finals. He also went to the Summer Olympics of 1972 in Munich. For his club career, he spent all of his playing career with his native Chabab Mohammédia from 1965 to 1982.  He finished as the league's top-scorer in 1969 and 1973. 

FW:  Abdelaziz Ben Tifour (Algeria)
Abdelaziz Ben Tifour played for France at the 1954 World Cup Finals.  He had a notable career in the French league, especially with Nice.  He was one of the founding member of FLN Algeria national team.  He played for Nice. He moved to Troyes AC after six seasons with Nice in 1954 and then signed for AS Monaco in 1956.

FW: Mahmoud El Khatib (Egpyt)
Voted as the second best player in Africa's history.  He was considered to be an icon in Egypt.  He spent 12 seasons with Al Ahly.  He won the Egyptian League title ten times, the Egyptian Cup six times, The African Cup Winner's Cup three times, and the African Champions League twice with his club El Ahly.  He was capped 54 times. He won the 1986 Africa Cup of Nations with Egypt.

ST: Hossam Hassan (Egpyt)
Hossam Hassan was an icon in Egypt in the 1990's.  He is Egypt's all-time top scorer with 68 goals in 176 appearances.  He represented the national team in the 1990 World Cup and seven Africa Cup of Nations tournaments, winning three of them. He spent most of his career with Al Ahly, but he won the CAF Champions' League in 2002 with Zamalek SC.  He also played briefly in Greece and Switzerland, but without successes.  His twin brother is his brother Ibrahim Hassan, a defender.
Hossam Hassan
ST:  Rabah Madjer (Algeria)
Rabah Madjer is probably the most successful Algerian player in Europe. He scored the first goal of the 2-1 victory over West Germany at the 1982 World Cup Finals.  Five years later, he again broke the Germans' hearts when he scored a goal and set up another as Porto beat Bayern Munich at the European Cup Final in 1987.  He played 87 times for Algeria.  At the club level, he played domestic football in Algeria, France, Qatar and Portugal. As mentioned, Porto was his greatest stint.

ST/RW: Mohamed Salah (Egypt)
"Mo" Salah played with El Mokawloon in Egypt before heading to play for Basel in Switzerland. In 2013, he won the best player award in Switzerland.  He earned a big move to Chelsea in 2014, but he ended up with a loan move to Fiorentina and Roma.  In 2017, he moved to Liverpool after starring for Roma.  In 2017, he helped Egypt for their first World Cup Finals since 1990.  In the World Cup Finals, he scored a single goal.
Mohamed Salah
Honorable Mention
Abdelaziz Ben Tifour (Algeria), Ali Fergani(Algeria), Hacene Lalmas(Algeria), Mustafa Kamel Mansou (Egypt), Tahar El-Khalej (Morocco), Ahmed Hassan (Egypt), Ibrahim Hassan (Egypt), Mustapha Hadji (Morocco), Youssef Chippo(Morocco), Salahedinne Bassir(Morocco), Hassan Akesbi (Morocco) and Abdelmajid Dolmy (Morocco), Marouane Chamakh (Morocco),  Fawzi Al Issawi (Libya), Abdelmajid Chetali (Tunisia), Noureddine Diwa (Tunisia), Khaled Badra (Tunisia), Ali Gagarin (Sudan), Siddiq Mohammed Manzul (Sudan), Abdel Moneim Mustafa Hussein (Sudan), Noureddine Diwa (Sudan), Ali Gagarin (Sudan).

Squad Explanation
-- Originally, I did not have time to research on all-time teams for Morocco, Egypt and Algeria.  This post was a combined team for them.
-- Larbi Benbarek was never capped by Morocco, but was capped by France. So he belonged to France in terms of international football just liked Just Fontaine who was born in Morocco.  Salem Ben Miloud, on the other hand, was never capped by France so he was eligible for Morocco.  Abderrahman Mahjoub played for Morocco.  So he became eligible. Abdelaziz Ben Tifour played for FLN national team which is considered to be the Algerian national team.
-- I cannot have spaces for Tahar El-Khalej, Ahmed Hassan, Ibrahim Hassan, Youssef Chippo, Salahedinne Bassir and Marouane Chamakh.  
-- I also looked into Egypt's recent successes with the African Cups of Nations. I selected Essam El-Hadary, instead of Mustafa Kamel Mansou.  I gambled with Wael Gomaa, who was not as famous as other candidates outside of Africa. 
-- I did a review of this blog after the 2018 World Cup Finals. Mehdi Benatia, Riyad Mahrez and Mohamed Salah were added to the team in 2018.  They all established themselves as great footballers playing in the European league. Benatia replaced Ibrahim Youssef (Egypt). I also dropped Hassan Akesbi (Morocco) and Abdelmajid Dolmy (Morocco).
-- Abdelaziz Ben Tifour (Algeria) was controversially left off the team.  In 2018, I made a review on this blog.  I dropped Aziz Bouderbala (Morocco) and replaced him with Abdelaziz Ben Tifour.  He contributed to the birth of Algerian football as one of the reason why he was selected.
-- Mustapha Hadji is the best player not selected into my all-time team.  I rated him highly. I even rated him ahead of Riyad Mahrez, but Mahrez is the PFA Players' Player of the Year, an achievement unmatched by most North African footballers. Mahrez was selected for this reason.
-- Mohamed Salah earned his spot after his story book season in 2017-2018.
-- The majority of the team came from Morocco, Egypt and Algeria. Nasr El-Din Abbas (Sudan), Sadok Sassi (Tunisia), Hatem Trabelsi (Tunisia) and Tarak Dhiab (Tunisia) are the only players not from the big three. Tunisia actually have done well in the World Cup Qualifiers in the last decade, but their players are not as well known outside their home country as the other three countries. Their World Cup record is as good as the other three. 
-- Fawzi Al Issawi (Libya) is the only player from Libya considered.
-- I am studying the possibility of forming an All-Time North African team without the big three (Egypt, Algeria and Morocco).

Starting lineup

Formation: 4-2-1-3
-- Tarak Dhiab was probably the greatest playmaker in North African history.  He would run the plays behind the three attackers.   
-- I moved to El Khalib to the left, a position that I am not so sure about.  
-- Lakhdar Belloumi can easily start ahead of Dhiab.
-- The starting lineup two from Tunisia, two from Algeria, two from Morocco and five from Egypt.


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