Ballon d’Or CAF 2023: Here’s what Africa’s best team should really have looked like

The African team of the 2023 season was unveiled at the CAF Awards, which recognise the best players in African football this year. A team with many inconsistencies.

Although Yassine Bounou was crowned best goalkeeper, it was André Onana who was chosen to feature in the CAF Team of the Year. In defence, the names of Achraf Hakimi, Kalidou Koulibaly and Chancel Mbemba were put forward. At the heart of this exceptional squad are Thomas Partey, André-Franck Zambo Anguissa, Mohammed Kudus and Sofyan Amrabat. As for the attack, the forward lines are not to be outdone, with the undeniable talent of Victor Osimhen, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané.

These are highly questionable choices, which prompted the Africa Sports editorial team to take stock of the situation. Who are the players who really deserve to be in this starting XI? Here’s what this season’s starting XI should really have looked like.

The typical African team in 2023, in a 3 – 4 – 3 format

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Goalkeeper: Yassine Bounou

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A world-class goalkeeper, Yassine Bounou richly deserves his place in this typical African team. The Moroccan international goalkeeper has been flamboyant at club level, winning the C3 title. He was also brilliant with his national team throughout the World Cup, reaching the semi-finals. Logically, he is the best goalkeeper of the season and features in the eleven best African players of the season.

Axial defender : Kalidou Koulibaly

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It was his leadership of the national team that earned him a place in the team of the tournament. Kalidou Koulibaly, captain of the Senegal ‘Lions’, was reassuring during the World Cup, scoring against Ecuador. At club level, he initially struggled with Chelsea Blues before making the defence of Al Hilal one of the toughest to break into in the Saudi Pro League.

Left-back: Chancel Mbemba

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The Congolese defender is a rock. Good in the air, impactful in duels, he also knows how to score. While he still has a lot to prove alongside his compatriots in the national team, particularly at the upcoming 2023 CAF Africa Cup of Nations, Mbemba has already put everyone at OM in agreement. He is therefore one of the best centre-backs in Africa.

Right-back : Achraf Hakimi

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The Moroccan full-back is one of the very best in his position. The best in the world. He was very good last season with PSG. His ability to swallow up the space in front of him and take part in the attacking play make him a very important player in the Paris team. On the national team front, he is Walid Regragui’s main man. Given his fine season, it’s only logical that he should be in this African team.

A typical African team with an XXL midfield

Recovering midfielder: Sofyan Amrabat

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Another Moroccan in our eleven best African players. Sofyan Amrabat won over not just one country, but an entire continent. We still remember his tackles and his enthusiasm on the pitch during the last World Cup. Building on the momentum of his excellent tournament, he landed at Manchester United, where he continues to showcase the same passion that sets him apart.

Left-sided holding midfielder: André-Franck Zambo Anguissa

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A key part of Rigobert Song’s game, the midfielder has gained so much experience in recent seasons that he exudes an incredible serenity. With the Indomitable Lions, he managed to beat Brazil at the World Cup. What’s more, at club level with Napoli, he is quite simply one of the bosses. His ball control, defensive cover, key passes… he’s a maestro.

Right-sided holding midfielder : Thomas Partey

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No Partey, no Party! The Ghanaian midfielder is a reliable player, as some technicians say. It is very rare, if not almost impossible, to see him make any obvious mistakes in his game. Lucid and precise, Thomas Partey has become one of the most influential players in Africa. Although less influential this season with the Gunners, he is still a valuable asset, hence his inclusion in this African team.

Attacking midfielder : Mohammed Kudus

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A breathtaking World Cup! That’s what Mohammed Kudus achieved. The Ghanaian player was involved in all the right moves during the tournament with his national team. Even though Ghana struggled throughout the tournament, he was one of the few players to come out on top. His creativity on the ball, his dribbling skills and his otherworldly goals place him among the very best in Africa.

The ‘real’ attacking line-up of the 2023 African team of the season

Right winger : Mohamed Salah

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Liverpool’s ‘Pharaoh’ remains virtually indestructible on the right flank. The Egyptian winger, the spearhead of his national team, has shone above all else with the Reds. At club level, Mohamed Salah has made a major contribution to the revival of Jürgen Klopp’s side. He now not only scores goals, but also provides assists. A broader range of skills that has done his side a world of good. Recently included in the Premier League’s top 10 all-time goalscorers list, he is further cementing his status as a legend.

Left winger : Riyad Mahrez

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One of the biggest absentees from the 2023 African squad. Unfairly so. The editors of Afrique Sports are unanimous: he deserves his place. Mahrez won it all with Manchester City last season. He was flamboyant during the first half of the season and for the national team, he remains the man to beat. Of his rivals in the position, he has the best collective record of the defunct season. Naturally, he has his place among the best in Africa.

Striker : Victor Osimhen

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The Ballon d’Or CAF 2023 ! Mister Victor, the man in the mask. The man who won the title for Napoli last season was undoubtedly the best African player of 2023. A proven goalscorer, he also shone with Nigeria. During the 2023 CAF Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, he led his side to Côte d’Ivoire with 10 goals. A true striker in a league of his own.

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