“Don’t mess up, Chelsea!”
With The African Cup of Nations set to deprive the Premier League of some wonderful players for the majority of January, The Spoiler thought it absolutely necessary to compile a team of the most brilliant Africans who won’t be representing their clubs for a hefty chunk of the New Year.
Feel free to leave your thoughts on the XI in the form of a comment…
Goalkeeper, Richard Kingson (Wigan Athletic and Ghana)
Kingson did so well in the 2008 African Cup of Nations that he was named in the All-Star Team directly after the tournament. Over at Wigan, however, barring a crippling injury to Chris Kirkland – who conceded nine against Spurs, by the way – he probably shan’t be missed too much.
Right Back, John Paintsil (Fulham and Ghana)
West Ham fans might remember John Paintsil as the energetic defender, incorrectly dubbed “Pantsil” on the back of his shirt, who used to spring into action from the bench. Thankfully, over at Fulham he’s had a much more productive (and correctly spelt) time of things, and shall leave behind a big gaping hole at the back. The fans really adore it when he does his laps of honour, so they say. They’ll miss those.
Centre Back, Kolo Toure (Man City and Ivory Coast)
Much has been made of how the upcoming tournament will effect poor Chelsea, but what about Man City? They’re losing their captain, who also happens to be the only Man City player who can remember how to defend in a football match. His absence will turn a huge magnifying glass in the direction of Joleon Lescott, who probably needs to step things up a bit.
Centre Back, Joseph Yobo (Everton and Nigeria)
Everton will also struggle without one of their middle-men at the back – Joseph Yobo – who has done much to ease the pain caused when the aforementioned Lescott brutally cut the cord and flounced out on the club. Everything then fell to pieces… for a bit. He keeps Sebastien Bassong out of contention.
Left Back, Benoit Assou-Ekotto (Spurs and Cameroon)
Assou-Ekotto – him of the recent barny with fans outrage – opted out of playing for France when someone kindly pointed out that Gael Clichy and Patrice Evra were also gunning for the left-back spot. Since then, he’s been Cameroon all the way, and shall be missed by the Spurs fans. Never more so than when they see a man with Gareth Bale’s weird hairstyle trotting over to the left flank. OMG, it IS Gareth Bale!
Right Midfield, Emmanuel Eboue (Arsenal and Ivory Coast)
Eboue seems to split the consensus. Some people think that, yeah, he’s not bad. Others appear to find him incredibly hard to stomach. The Spoiler falls onto neither side of that particular fence, finding him instead to be a pretty handy footballer. Patriotic England fans might also be pleased to note that he recently put one past Germany in a 2-2 draw.
Centre Midfield, Michael Essien (Chelsea and Ghana)
If the absense of Drogba is going to hit Chelsea hard, then expect another thwack in the underpants, because Essien won’t be there either. Known as The Bison, because he’s a terrifying prospect on a football pitch, he is an absolutely enormous player for both club and country.
Centre Midfield, Alexandre Song (Arsenal and Cameroon)
Just muscling John Obi Mikel out of contention is Alexandre Song, who is having a brilliant season so far for Arsenal, playing in midfield – having spent the last couple of years as a makeshift defender. Cue another massive positional migraine for Arsene Wenger.
Left Midfield, Salomon Kalou (Chelsea and Ivory Coast)
Despite the recent news that Kevin-Prince Boateng fancies trying his luck for Ghana, Salomon Kalou still bags the final midfield spot, and for a number of reasons. The most telling one being that he’s a much better player. Nine goals in seventeen Ivory Coast matches isn’t too bad for starters.
Striker, Emmanuel Adebayor (Man City and Togo)
Keeping Everton’s Yakubu out of the team is Adebayor, who will be much missed for Man City. His blistering start at the club might have dulled somewhat, but at a time when they need to stamp some authority on proceedings, he would surely be the man to lead the line. Time for Roque Santa Cruz to dust off his scoring slippers.
Striker, Didier Drogba (Chelsea and Ivory Coast)
What can you possibly say about probably the best striker in the world at the moment? That Chelsea could be in touble without him, with Man United and Arsenal breathing heavily on their necks? Yes indeed, the African Cup of Nations might yet prove rather costly to the London team in their gallop for the top spot. He has scored 41 goals in 60 Ivory Coast matches.