Friday, February 17, 2023

African born Greatest All-Time Team

This blogger Artur Yanturin of Russia copied many of my blog teams.  This blog was one of them.  It was my Russia All-Time Team here.  His team was written in 2020, but mine was uploaded in 2014.  His Spartak Moscow All-Time team entry of was published in October 2020, but mine was uploaded in 2017.  His entry of the Dutch-German rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona was written in 2020, but mine was uploaded in 2014.  He also copied many many of my blog entries.

His Facebook and Instagram

In 2019, I created an African (CAF) All-Time team for players who were capped by CAF national teams.  However, there were many great African-born players who played for European national teams before the founding of their own national teams. I did not know what to do with them. For my all-time teams of Algeria and Senegal, I ruled these players as eligible.  The good players from that generation had no other choice, but to represent European countries.  Without this rule, if a player was not good enough for France, he would be eligible while the better players became ineligible simply because they were better players and played for the Europeans.  But if I considered them for the all-African (CAF) All-Time team, it would open the door for players such as Just Fontaine, Claudio Gentile, Alexandre Villaplane etc.  They were Europeans born in African.  And if I considered them, should I open the door for the more recent generations? Players such as Jean Tigana, Claude Makelele, etc belonged to this team as much as Claudio Gentile.  This African All-Time team would suddenly become very confusing.  So I decided to select players who were capped by African countries or uncapped players only.  Instead, I created this African-born All-Time Team.  All players must be born in one of CAF member states.
Team (birthplace/national team)
GK: Thomas N'Kono (Cameroon)
Thomas N'Kono was among the best keepers from the 1980's and probably the most famous goalkeeper ever from Africa.  He played in three WC Finals.  Gianluigi Buffon was inspired by him and named his son Thomas after him.  After playing in his country with Canon Yaoundé and Tonnerre Yaoundé he moved to Spain with RCD Español in 1982. , He received the France Football African Footballer of the Year award in 1982 and in 1979.

GK: Bruce Grobbelaar (South Africa/Zimbabwe)
Bruce Grobbelaar made 628 appearances for Liverpool in 13 years.  He was considered among the best England-based keepers of his generation and a legend with Liverpool. He won the 1984 European Cup, 6 English league titles and 3 FA Cups. Born in South Africa, he moved to Rhodesia as a child.  He played one game for Rhidesia in 1977.  From 1980 to 1998, he was capped 32 times by Zimbabwe, but with several years where he was absent for the national team.

GK:  Costa Pereira (Mozambique/Portugal)
Costa Pereira was the goalkeeper for both Benfica and Portugal during the golden years in the 1960's.  He played for Benfica between 1954 and 1967.  He won two consecutive European Cup with them in 1961 and 1962, with Mario Coluna, Eusebio, etc and lost two other finals in 1963 and 1965. Capped 22 times between 1955 and 1965.  He was not selected for the 1966 World Cup Finals.

RB:  Lauren Etame Mayer (Cameroon)
Lauren  was known for his career with Arsenal in England. He was part of Arsenal's "Invincibles", a title given to Arsenal's team that went undefeated team in the Premiership.  He was named in the PFA Team of the Year that season.  He also played in Spain. With Cameroon, he won two African Cup of Nations. He also won an Olympic Gold Medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics with Cameroon.

CB/RB: Claudio Gentile (Libya/Italy)
Gentile was born in Libya. He was considered one of the Azzurri's greatest defenders.  He had 71 caps between 1975 and 1984. He went to both 1978 and 1982 World Cup Finals.  He was best remembered for stopping Diego Maradona and Zico at the World Cup Finals in 1982 as Italy won their third World Cup.  His playing style was very hard. He was capped 71 times.  Gentile played over a decade with Juventus. He also played for Fiorentina and other clubs.
Claudio Gentile
CB: Basile Boli (Ivory Coast/France)
For club football, Basile Boli played for Auxerre, Marseille, Rangers (Scotland), Monaco and Urawa Reds (Japan).  He was a member of Bernard Tapie's Marseille that won the 1993 European Cup, the first ever for a French club. He scored the only goal at the Final against AC Milan.  He left the club in 1994.  For France, he won 45 caps.  He went to the European Championship of 1992 hosted by Sweden.  

CB/DM:  Marcel Desailly  (Ghana/France)
Marcel Desailly was considered to be one of the greatest defensive players during the 1990's.  He played 116 times for France, winning the World Cup in 1998 and the European Championship in 2000.  He was the first player to win the European Cup in consecutive seasons with different clubs, when he won it with Marseille in 1993 and AC Milan the following year. Late in his career, he played for Chelsea in England as well as clubs in the Middle East.

CB: Samuel Kuffour (Ghana)
Samuel Kuffour was probably Ghana's most famous defender.  He spent 11 seasons with Bayern Munich, winning almost everything.  He won the Champions' League in 2001. He was twice runnerup for the African Player of the Year and won Ghana Player of Year in 1998, 1999 and 2001. He was capped 59 times.  He played in the 2006 World Cup Finals in Germany. His youth career started with Torino in Italy. He also played for Roma, Ajax and Livorno. 
Samuel Kuffour
LB: Patrice Evra  (Senegal/France)
Patrice Evra began his career with Nice and made his name with Monaco, but it was in Manchester United where he became one of the best left backs in the world.  He played for the Red Devils from 2006 to 2014.  At the time of writing, he earned 66 caps and was a key player for France since 2008.  He was the captain of the national team. At South Africa 2010, he led a player revolt against Raymond Domenech.

LB: Hilario (Mozambique/Portugal)
Hilario was first noticed at Sporting de Lourenço Marques along with teammate Eusébio.  He joined Sporting CP while Eusebio went to Benfica. He played his entire professional career with Sporting CP, appearing in nearly 450 official games and winning seven major trophies.  He was the starting leftback of Portugal in 1960's.   He went to the 1966 World Cup finals in England.

DM/CM: Jean Tigana (Mali/France)
Jean Tigana played 52 times for France from 1980 to 1988. He was a member of the great French side of the 1980's.  He won the Euro 1984 playing in the famous "Magic Square" alongside Michel Platini. He also went to the 1982 and 1986 Wolrd Cup Finals. He played with Bordeaux for eight years, winning three league titles and three French Cups.  He also spent time with Toulon, Lyon and Marseille.  He was born in French Sudan.
Jean Tigana
CM: Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast)
Yaya Toure is probably one of the best African player of his generation.  He went to three World Cup Finals at the 2006, 2010. He also represented them in six Africa Cup of Nations, captaining them to victory in 2015. Touré had stints with Beveren, Metalurh Donetsk, Olympiacos, and AS Monaco before moving to Barcelona in 2007. In 2010, Touré moved to Premier League club Manchester City where he helped City earn their first league title in 44 years. He is among the greatest Manchester City players.

CM: Mario Coluna (Mozambique/Portugal)
Mario Coluna is one of the greatest player ever for both Portugal and Benfica. He spent most of his career with Benfica, appearing in 525 official games and scoring 127 goals during 16 professional seasons. He was dubbed Monstro Sagrado (Sacred Monster).  He won 19 major titles with his main club, including ten national leagues. He won two European Cup with Benfica in 1961 and 1962.  He was the captain of Portugal in the 1966 World Cup. He was known to be Eusebio's greatest footballing partner and friend.

CM: Patrick Vieira (Senegal/France)
Vieira was an all-time great with Arsenal.  He won three Premier League titles and four FA Cups.  In England. he was famous for his rivalry with Roy Keane.  He spent a season at Juventus, helping the team to the Serie A championship. Following Juventus' relegation for their part in a match-fixing scandal, Vieira played for Inter Milan and then, Manchester City for two seasons. With "Les Bleus", he won the WC in 1998 and European Championship in 2000.  He earned 107 caps.
Patrick Vieria
AM: Larbi Benbarek  (Morocco/France) 
Larbi Benbarek was born and raised in Morocco in the period when the country was under the French rule.  He was the first Black player to reach stardom in Europe, earning the nick name "Black Pearl". He made his name with Stade Francasis Paris.  In 1948, he moved to Atletico Madrid, where he reached the height of his career and won two La Liga title.  He is considered one of the greatest ever French player. He was capped 19 times between 1938 and 1954.

AM/SS: Abedi Pele (Ghana)
Abedi Pele was one of the greatest African player ever.  He was best remembered for his career with Marseille, where he won the first ever Champions' League title for a French club.  He was African Player of the Year for three straight years between 1991 and 1993. He was voted 3rd as the African Player of the Century. He had 77 caps for Ghana. He was a member of the team that won African Cup of Nations in 1982. He was at one point the country's all-time top scorer.
Abedi Pele 
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 WC Finals, he scored a single goal.

FW/LW: Cristano Ronaldo (Madeira, Portugal)
Ronaldo is one of the greatest forward of his generation.  He is the most expensive players in history from 2009-2013 when he moved from Manchester United to Real Madrid.  At the time of writing, he won the Ballon d'Or winner three times and won Champions' League titles with both Manchester United and Real Madrid.  In 2016, he helped Portugal to win the European Championship, a month after winning the Champions' League with Real Madrid.  In 2018, he joined Juventus after playing the 2018 World Cup Finals.

FW/LW: Sadio Mané (Senegal)
Sadio Mané stated with Metz.  He made his name while playing for Red Bull Salzburg and Southampton. In 2016, he became the most expensive African player in history at that time when he joined Liverpool.  Mané, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho made up a prolific attacking quartet dubbed the "Fab Four".  He helped the club to reach the Final of the 2018 Champions' League. He scored a goal in the Final.  For Senegal, he played for them at the World Cup Finals in 2018.    He was the AFCON MVP as Senegal won the tournament in 2022.

AM/FWGeorge Weah (Liberia) 
In terms of individual awards, no other African player wins more awards than him.  He was was named FIFA World Player of the Year and won the Ballon d'Or in 1995.  He won African Footballer of the Year: 1989, 1994, 1995.  He was voted African Player of the Century in 1996.
  He had great careers with AC Milan where he won two Serie A titles. He also played for Paris St Germaine and AS Monaco in France. In 2017, Weah was elected as the President of Liberia.
George Weah
ST: Eusebio (Mozambique/Portugal)
Along with Pele, Eusebio was considered to be the best player in the world during the 1960's.  He helped Portugal reach third place at the 1966 World Cup, being the top goalscorer of the tournament with 9 goals (including four in one match against North Korea) and received the Bronze Ball award. He won the Ballon d'Or award for European footballer of the year in 1965. He played for Benfica 15 out of his 22 years as a footballer.  He won the European Cup in 1961.

ST:  Just Fontaine (Morocco/France)
Just Fontaine was born in French Morocco.  He is the record holder for most goals scored in a single edition of the World Cup.  He scored 13 goals in 6 matches in the 1958 World Cup Finals in Sweden.  He won 21 caps scoring 30 goals. He started with RSM Casablanca and Nice before starring for Stade de Reims of the 1950's. With Stade de Reims, he played with Raymond Kopa and was considered one of the greatest ever French club side.

ST: Samuel E'too (Cameroon) 
Samuel E'too started his career with the academy of Real Madrid, but he made his name with Mallorca. He was a part of the famous "REM" line at Barcelona where he won two Champions' league titles.   He moved to Inter Milan in 2009 and won a third Champions' league in 2009-2010.  He won the African Player of the Year award a record four times: in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2010. He was capped 118 caps with Cameroon.
Samuel E'too 
Honorable Mentions
Essam El Hadary(Egypt), Arthur Wharton (Ghana/Uncapped), Acúrsio Carrelo (Mozambique/Portugal), Arthur Riley (South Africa), Jacques Songo’o (Cameroon),  Joseph-Antoine Bell (Cameroon), Noureddine Naybet (Morocco), Lucas Radebe (South Africa), Kolo Toure (Tunisia),  Abel Xavier (Mozambique/Portugal), Ibrahim Youssef (Egypt),  Wael Gomaa(Egypt),  Hany Ramzy (Egypt), Stephen Keshi (Nigeria), Christian Chukwu (Nigeria), Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal), Mustapha Zitouni (Algeria), Taiye Taiwo (Nigeria), Celestine Babayaro (Nigeria), Kwadwo Asamoah (Ghana), Arthur Boka (Ivory Coast), William Ayache(Algeria/France), Samuel Umtiti (Cameroon/France),  Alphonso Davis (Ghana/Canada), Jose Bosingwa (Zaire/Portugal), Hatem Trabelsi (Tunisia), Emmanuel Eboue (Ivory Coast), Edward Stuart (South Africa), Geremi Njitap (Cameroon), Michael Essien (Ghana), Rifaat El- Fanagili (Egypt), Alexandre Villaplane (Algeria/France), Craig Johnstone (South Africa/uncapped), Jay Jay Okocha, Didier Drogba, Roger Milla (Cameroon), Abdelsalem Ben Miloud Salem (Algeria/France),  Jay Jay Okocha (Nigeria), Claude Makelele (DR Congo/France), Lakhdar Belloumi (Algeria), Seydou Keita (Mali), Mahamadou Diarra (Mali), Ahmed Faras (Morocco), Berry Nieuwenhuys (South Africa), Anthony Yeboah (Ghana), Paul Bonga Bonga (Congo), Rabah Madjer (Algeria), Mahmoud El Khatib (Egypt), Abdelaziz Ben Tifour (Algeria/France & Algeria), Salif Keita (Mali), Kalusha Bwalya (Zambia),  Patrick Ntsoelengoe (South Africa), Finidi George (Nigeria), Nwankwo Kanu (Nigeria), Rachid Mekhloufi (Algeria/France & Algeria), Jules Bocande (Senegal), José Águas (Angola/Portugal), Pirri (Ceuta, Spain), David Silva (Canary Islands, Spain), Fernando Peyroteo (Angola/Portugal).

Squad Explanation
-- All players are born in one of CAF (Confederation of African Football) member states.
-- I used CAF (Confederation of African Football) to describe players from African national teams.  For example, I would say Samuel Kuffour is probably CAF's greatest ever defender rather he is the greatest ever from Africa to separate him from Marcel Desailly. 
-- Five World Cup winners were born in Africa: Claudio Gentile (Libya), Marcel Desailly (Ghana), Patrick Vieira (Senegal), Steve Mandanda (Congo DR), and Samuel Umtiti (Cameroon).  Vieira and Desailly were on France's 1998 team while Unititi and Mandanda were from the 2018 team.  Eusebio, Mario Coluna and Hilario represented Portugal in the 1966 World Cup Finals.  Costa Pereira was one of Portugal's top goalkeepers at the time, but he was overlooked for the World Cup.  Vicente Lucas and José Águas were also on that team, but I only put them on honorable mention here.   Two Golden Boot winners were also born over there: Just Fontaine (Morocco) and Eusebio (Mozambique).  
Portugal World Cup team in 1966
-- Race is not a factor.  Cristiano Ronaldo, Costa Pereira, Bruce Grobbelaar and Claudio Gentile are on the team.  They are White Africans of European ancestry.
-- As mentioned, Patrick Vieira and Marcel Desailly won a World Cup with France in 1998.  In fact, the 1998 team was so full of non-White players so that the term  “black blanc beur” was born (“beur” is a French term for being from Northern Africa).  It was a new collective identity that showcased the new France.  However, Christian Karembeu, Thierry Henry and Lillian Thuram were not from Africa,  Zinedine Zidane was born in France.  So only Vieira and Desailly made this team.
-- Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Libya and Mali never qualified for the World Cup Finals.  They also never won a AFCON.  Four players here were born in Mozambique, and one each in Zimbabwe, Libya and Mali.  The Libya-born Claudio Gentile was the first African-born player to win a World Cup.
-- Thirteen players were capped by UEFA national teams. Seven players represented France and five for Portugal. Gentile played for Italy.  Larbi Benbarek had played for an unofficial Moroccan representative side before playing for France.
-- The surname Vieira is Portuguese.  It is the maiden name of Patrick Vieira's mother, who is from Cape Verde.
-- Ten players were "related" to French football.  As mentioned, seven players represented France.  George Weah and Sadio Mane started their European club career with a French club while Abedi Pele's peak years were spent with Olympique de Marseille.  Mario Coluna also spent a short time in Lyon.
-- North Africa is underrepresented on this team.  Just Fontaine, Larbi Benbarek and Mohamed Salah were the only players born there.  No French Algerian were selected. Zinedine Zidane, Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe were born in France.  
-- I was also surprised that nobody from Belgium or the United Kingdom were selected.  Both countries had a large African population. 
-- Three Liverpool legends made this team. Mohamed Salah  (Egypt)Bruce Grobbellaar (South Africa) and  Sadio Mané (Senegal) also made honorable mentions.  In fact, Liverpool had a number of great Africans in its history.  Bruce Grobbelaar was born in South Africa, but he played for Rhodesia and Zimbabwe, where he grew up.  
-- With careful consideration, I ruled the "European islands" in Macaronesia as a part of Africa. Culturally, those islands are very European, but those places are geographically closer to the African continent.  Madeira is located only 434 miles west of Morocco while it is 528 miles from Portugal and mainland Europe.   Canary Island is even closer.  It is actually only 67 miles from Africa.  They are closer to the African continent than Cape Verde which is 570 miles away.  Of course, both Ceuta and Melilla are located inside North Africa.  All Spanish footballers from there should be considered to be African-born.  So I selected Cristiano Ronaldo who was born in Madeira while David Silva and Pirri were put into the pool.
Cristiano Ronaldo of Madeira
-- There were not many African-born goalkeepers playing for European national teams.  In general, not many Black (or African descent) goalkeepers were playing in the top European leagues.   I think it has to do with racism.  It is similar to the lack of Black quarterbacks in American football before the 2000's.  Georges Lamia, Costa Pereira, Acúrsio Carrelo, Abderrahman Ibrir, Yvon Mvogo, Steve Mandanda, Nuno and Neno were one of the few African born players who were capped by European countries.  Lamia, Acúrsio Carrelo and Costa Pereira were Whites, which racism would not be a major factor, I assumed (although White South African outfielders had mentioned discrimination against them in England in the 1950's). Abderrahman Ibrir is Algerian so I don't know how racism affected him.
-- Out of this list of UEFA capped goalkeepers, I took Costa Pereira. He won two consecutive European Cups with Benfica in 1961 and 1962, and lost two finals in 1963 and 1965. He was born in Mozambique.  He was selected into World Soccer World XI in 1965.  He had done more than most African-born goalkeepers.
-- Then I went with the same two goalkeepers from my African All-Time team.  N'Kono was considered to be Africa's greatest goalkeeper.  He inspired Gianluigi Buffon of Italy to play goalkeeper.  He was named African Player of the Year twice, which was rare for a goalkeeper to win the award.  Grobbelaar was very decorated during his career with Liverpool FC.  During his 13-years at Liverpool, he helped the team win six league titles, one European Cup, three FA Cups, three league cups, amongst other trophies. 
Thomas N'Kono
-- Essam El Hadary was the third goalkeeper on my Africa (CAF) All-Time team.  He was the starting keeper for Egypt as it dominated 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.  I admitted that I switched my criteria all the time.  Sometimes, the lack of European exposure hurt a player's chance on my blog teams, but on this occasion, I honoured the Egyptian goalkeeper for his achievement in Africa.  He is probably the greatest African goalkeeper in the history of the African Nations' Cup.  However, Costa Pereira's club career was too great to be ignored.
-- Arthur Wharton who was born in Ghana was widely considered to be the first Black professional footballer. Arthur Riley spent 15 years playing with Liverpool.  He was also one of the first Africans to play in Europe.  He took over the starting position from Elisha Scott in Liverpool, and Elisha Scott was considered one of Liverpool's greatest goalkeepers.  Mustafa Mansour played for Queens' Park FC in the 1930's after the 1936 World Cup Finals.  Both were really ahead of their time.  They set a milestone for African goalkeepers.
-- Cameroon is Africa's greatest goalkeeper producing countries. Jacques Songo’o and Joseph-Antoine Bell were strong contenders for the third choice.  Bell was named "African Goalkeeper of the Century" by IFFHS, as part of their "Century Elections" ahead of his rival Thomas N'Kono.  Carlos Kameni could easily rank in the top 10 greatest African keeper. He won an Olympic gold medal as a 16 years old. But I could not find space for him even on Cameroon All-Time team. 
-- Both Édouard Mendy and Yassine Bounou were born in Europe. Gary Bailey grew up in South Africa, but he was born in England.  They were ineligible.
-- I took four central defenders for my African (CAF) Greatest ever team who were well-known in European club football. They were Samuel Kuffour, Noureddine Naybet, Lucas Radebe and Kolo Toure.  For this African-born All-Time team, I only retained Kuffour.  He was a stalwart of Bayern Munich's defense for over a decade at a time when Bayern Munich was one of the best teams in the world.  He was the BBC African Player of the Year in 2001.  He might be CAF's greatest defender.  
-- The other central defenders were all "Europeans".  Marcel Desailly was probably France's greatest defender.  His career with France and club football spoke for itself. At the time of his retirement, he was France's most capped player.  Claudio Gentile was on my Italy All-Time team as a rightback. In the modern game, the centerback position would be his more preferred position. He was best remembered for stopping Diego Maradona and Zico at the World Cup Finals in 1982 as Italy won their third World Cup.  Desailly and Gentile were probably among the greatest ever defenders in history.
Marcel Desailly
-- Basile Boli edged out Noureddine Naybet, Lucas Radebe and Kolo Toure for a spot on the team.  Boli played for Olympique de Marseille under Bernard Tapie.  He scored the winning goal that helped his club to win the 1992–93 Champions League.  Boli's international career came at a point when France had the talents but performed poorly in the big international tournaments.  He was a part of the team that failed to qualify for the 1994 and 1990 World Cup as well as Euro 1988.  They won all eight of their qualifiers for Euro 1992, but were winless in the Finals in Sweden.  
-- Raoul Diagne was the son of Senegalese and French politician Blaise Diagne.  Diagne senior was the former mayor of Dakar. Raoul, however, was born in French Guiana when his father was serving there.  I do believe that he should be considered Senegalese, but I decided to stay strictly on birthplace.  So I ruled him out of the team.
-- Abel Xavier was more famous for his hairstyle.  He only played 20 times for Portugal and his club career was very limited.  Jean-Alain Boumsong and Danilo Pereira were players of note who were also in consideration.
-- Ibrahim Youssef,  Wael Gomaa, Hany Ramzy, Stephen Keshi, Christian Chukwu and Kalidou Koulibaly were not on my African (CAF) All-Time team.  Mustapha Zitouni was capped 4 times by France in the late 1950's.  They were interesting prospects, but I left them off.
-- Lauren Etame Mayer was probably Africa CAF greatest rightback. In 2000, he was the runner-up of the African Player of the Year.  Achraf Hakimi was the other rightback on my CAF All-time team, but he was born in Spain.  I considered Jose Bosingwa who was a big part of Jose Mourinho's Porto.  The other alternatives were Hatem Trabelsi, Emmanuel Eboue, Eddie Stuart and Geremi Njitap.  Eddie Stuart played for 11 years with Wolverhampton Wolves in the 1950's when they were one of the most successful team in England. He seldom got recognition as an African footballer.  Perhaps, he was a white man of British descent playing in England.  He also never represented South Africa in football.  Geremi Njitap had done better than most Cameroonian footballers in his club career, but I somehow did not see him as a rightback.  But since I already had Claudio Gentile, I decided against taking an extra rightback. I gave the extra spot to another position.
-- As of 2023, Patrice Evra was the obvious choices.  His career with Manchester United spoke for itself. Hilário is probably Portugal's greatest leftback.   From the CAF, I also looked into Taiye Taiwo, Celestine Babayaro, Kwadwo Asamoah and Arthur Boka.  In time, Alphonso Davis might take one of the leftback position.  William Ayache of France was also a candidate.
Patrice Evra
-- Abdelsalem Ben Miloud Salem spent 10 seasons with Olympique de Marseille, winning the league title once in 1948. He was one of the first African defenders to shine in Europe.  He retired from football before Morocco played its first international game in 1957.  He was a left-sided defender in his time, but in the modern game, he would not be considered a leftback.  
-- My African (CAF) Greatest Ever Team did not have enough central/defensive midfielders.  For this team, I quickly added Mario Coluna, Patrick Vieira and Jean Tigana.  All three were box-to-box midfielders.
-- Jean Tigana was a part of the French midfield that consisted of Michel Platini, Luis Fernandez and Alain Giresse in what was known as "the Magic Square" (le Carré Magique).  France won UEFA Euro 1984 with this midfield. It was one of the greatest midfield foursomes of all time.  
-- Mario Coluna led Benfica to end Real Madrid's dominance of the European Cup in the 1950's. He actually won their first cup before Eusebio joined the team.  Patrick Vieira was a key player during Arsene Wenger's reign in Arsenal.  His rivalry with Roy Keane in the Premiership was headlines news in his days.  He was one of the greatest ever central midfielders ever graced the Premiership.
Mario Coluna
-- Yaya Toure won the African Footballer of the Year award on four consecutive times between 2014 and 2018.  At the time, he was probably the world's best central midfielders.  I retained him while dropping Michael Essien and Rifaat El- Fanagili.  Essien was essential to Jose Mourinho's Chelsea.  However, his peak was actually short due to injuries.  Rifaat El- Fanagili was chosen the best defender of the 1960 Olympic football tournament in Rome, but he played in an era when the standard of African football was low.  
-- Pirri was born in Ceuta, Spain which is a part of Africa.  He only made honorable mention because of Yaya Toure, Mario Coluna, Patrick Vieira and Jean Tigana. 
-- Alexandre Villaplane was the first ever player of Northern African origin to represent France.  He played 25 times for France. He captained France at the 1930 WC Finals. I did weight in the fact that he was a Nazi collaborator, but I did not drop him for this reason.
-- George Weah and Abedi Pele were two of CAF's most important players ever.  In 1995, Weah was named FIFA World Player of the Year and won the Ballon d'Or, becoming the first and only player to win these awards while representing an African country internationally. Abedi Pele built his legacy in southern France with Marseille. During the 1990's, he might be one of the best midfielders in the world.  He won the African Player of the Year three times. 
-- Larbi Benbarek was not selected for my France All-Time team because I already had Raymond Kopa, Zinedine Zidane and Michel Platini, but he was one of the best players ever played for France. He was probably the first Black star player in the history of European club football.
-- Jay Jay Okocha was one of the most skillful and technical gifted players of his generation.   His PSG teammate Ronaldinho understudied him and considered him his idol. He also belonged the Golden Generation of Nigeria winning an Olympic Gold medal and the 1994 AFCON.  He was awarded a CAF Legend Award in 2011. However, he was less decorated in the club level than the other players selected.  David Silva was born in Canary Islands, which should be considered a part of Africa.  I considered both Okocha and David Silva behind Benbarek and Abedi Pele.  So they only made honorable mentions.
-- I discovered a player from the 1960's named Miguel Jones.  He was born in what is now Equatorial Guinea.
-- Craig Johnston was included on my South African All-Time Team, but his nationality was an issue since he was an uncapped player.  He turned down Australia and probably would have ignored the South African national team if he ever received a call-up at his time.  However, this team was about "African-born" players.  So he should be a candidate.  In the 1980's, he starred for Liverpool.  However, he gave way to two other Liverpool star players. Mohamed Salah was more of a wing-forward than a forward.  He won both PFA and FWA Footballer of the Year twice. Johnstone never came close in winning neither awards. Sadio Mane was one of the best players on Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool. And Since 2019, he already won the African Player of the Year twice.  He also helped Senegal to win the AFCON(please also see the forward section on Didier Drogba).
Sadio Mane
-- Berry Nieuwenhuys deserved a mention somewhere. Coincidentally, he also played for Liverpool.  I also did not select him for my Africa CAF All-Time team.
-- Eusebio was probably the greatest African born footballers of all-time.  In his prime, he was comparable to Pele.  His teammate José Águas was also born in Angola.  His career was overshadowed by Eusebio after 1961.  I only put him on honorable mention.
-- Samuel Eto’o was named African Player of the Year four times.  He is the AFCON’s and Cameroon’s highest goalscorer of all-time.  I do believe either Eto'o or Weah was CAF's greatest footballers.
-- Didier Drogba won the African Footballer of the Year title twice. He was one of the most decorated African footballers of all time, winning four Premier League titles with Chelsea. He was also the highest goalscorer in the 2006/07 and 2009/10 Premier League seasons.  But Mohamed Salah actually won more individual awards than Drogba in England.  He won both PFA and FWA Footballer of the Year twice.  His partnership and rivalry with Sadio Mane were well-known.  Liverpool won every possible trophies with the two of them at helm. They also went head-to-head in the 2021 AFCON Final as well as the CAF's World Cup qualifying playoff later in the same year.  From 2017 to 2022, the pair finished 1-2 at the African Player of the Year award with each player winning the award twice each.  Furthermore, this team needed wide players.  So I dropped Drogba while keeping both Mane and Salah.
Mohamed Salah
-- Roger Milla was often listed among the greatest African player.  I selected him for my Africa (CAF) Greatest ever team because he has put African football and their national teams on the map with his World Cup performance in 1990.  He had done a lot for African football.  However, outside of the World Cup Finals, Roger Milla did not have a strong club career.  In this team, Eusebio and Just Fontaine predated him in the history of the World Cup Finals.  I was not saying that we should overlook Milla's achievement, but the bar was higher in this team.  Fontaine still holds the record of the highest number of goals ever scored by one player at a single World Cup Finals.  Eusebio's 1966 World Cup performance was perhaps one of the greatest ever.  
 -- Gordon Hodgson scored 295 goals in England.  He is the fourth in the all-time list of top-flight goalscorers in English football with only Jimmy Greaves (357), Steve Bloomer (317) and Dixie Dean (310) having scored more goals.  He did play for South Africa before playing for England.  I only put him on honorable mention alongside Salif Keita and Rachid Mekhloufi. He also did not make my CAF All-Time Team.
-- Just Fontaine was more than his 13 goal performance in the 1958 World Cup Finals.  Fontaine scored 121 goals in six seasons at Stade de Reims when the club was one of the best in Europe. 
Just Fontaine
-- Rachid Mekhloufi is the all-time leading scorer for Saint-Etienne in France, where he played from 1954 to 1958. He disappeared from the national team duty for France against Switzerland on April, 1958 to join the FLN team.  Because of that, he missed the 1958 World Cup Finals.  One source called him France's best player at the time, but was he better than Raymond Kopa and Just Fontaine? He later spent his career with the FLN national team, where Algeria's war for independence affected his career.  So the world really did not know his true potential.
-- I had one spot left after I completed most of the team.  Claude Makelele, Jose Bosingwa, Didier Drogba, Fernando Peyroteo and Roger Milla were the candidates for the last spot.  I did not need an extra rightback because of Claudio Gentile.  Marcel Desailly could easily move into the defensive midfield position making Claude Makelele expendable.  Milla's career outside the 1990 World Cup was  less decorated as compared Drogba and Peyroteo.
-- Fernando Peyroteo has established himself as the greatest scorer football has ever seen. He scored 331 times in just 197 games for Sporting, giving him a goal-to-game ratio of 1.68, the highest in football history.   I thought that record was hard to ignore even through Drogba's career was actually more impressive.  However, in October, 2023, I replaced him with Cristiano Ronaldo.  I forgot that Madeira should be considered a part of Africa. 

Most players on the team could make the starting eleven.  Esuebio, Gentile, Desailly, Weah, Mario Coluna and Benbarek were the obvious choice.  Eto'o was actually another obvious choice, but the team had Eusebio.

Goalkeeper: I did not have any preference.  
Defence: Evra, Desailly and Gentile should start, but where should I put Gentile?  His playing style no longer fitted the modern game.  I used Kuffour on my starting lineup, but I could easily replace him with Boli. Lauren might be a better choice at rioghtback for the modern game, but Gentile is still cosnidered one of the greatest rightback of all-time.
Midfielders: Mario Coluna and Benbarek were automatic starters, but Vieria or Yaya Toure could easily replace Tigana.
Forwards: Eusebio was the obvious choice and followed by Cristiano Ronaldo.  I thought of starting Abedi Pele on the right because he was left footed, but Salah played mainly on the right wing in Liverpool.  Salah would be more natural.