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African All Stars

Afcon 2021: Who were the breakout stars?

22:46 SAST 2022/02/10
Mohamed Abou Gabal Gabaski, Egypt, January 2022
GOAL celebrate some of the breakout stars of the Africa Cup of Nations

  • Mohamed Kamara Algerie Sierra Leone

    Mohamed Nbalie Kamara

    One of the great stories of the Africa Cup of Nations, Kamara stood firm in light of some of Africa’s best players to fly the flag for the continent’s goalkeepers during the tournament.

    In his opening match, he kept reigning champions Algeria at bay—saving a swathe of chances—as Sierra Leone claimed a 0-0 draw, promptly bursting into tears at the final whistle when he was awarded the Man of the Match prize.

    He conceded twice against Ivory Coast, although he did save Franck Kessie’s penalty as the Leone Stars took a point, and his heroics were admirable particularly considering the 22-year-old still plies his trade with East End Lions in his homeland.

  • Issa Kabore Burkina Faso Cape Verde Afcon 2022

    Issa Kabore

    Winner of the Young Player of the Tournament award, Kabore excelled as a right wing-back for Burkina Faso, excelling in the group-stage games against Cape Verde and Ethiopia, while defending resolutely in the Round of 16 as Gabon were eliminated.

    He also registered three assists in the tournament—including in both the semi-final against Senegal and the third-placed playoff against Cameroon.

    The future looks bright for the Manchester City loanee.

  • Gabaski Egypt Senegal Afcon final 2022

    Gabaski

    An unlikely choice considering he’s 33, but Gabaski had only played in one competitive game for Egypt in the previous decade before the Nations Cup, but certainly took his reputation to new heights during the course of the competition.

    After replacing the injured Mohamed El-Shenawy, he didn’t concede a single goal from open play against Ivory Coast, Morocco, Cameroon and Senegal, helping Egypt win shootouts against the Elephants and the Indomitable Lions.

    He may have ultimately fallen short in the final, but he had earlier made a series of fine saves—including from Sadio Mane’s early penalty—as the Pharaohs pushed the eventual champions to the wire.

  • Omar Kamal, Egypt, January 2022

    Omar Kamal

    Another late bloomer in the Egypt ranks, Kamal was introduced to the starting XI after the Pharaohs’ defeat by Nigeria and excelled against Guinea-Bissa as the North Africans finally got their first win under their belt.

    Egypt didn’t concede with Kamal on the pitch during the knockout stages, and he was missed for the final after picking up back-to-back bookings during the competition.

    During his opening matches, no one averaged more tackles per game, and what’s all the more impressive is that Kamal—who only made his international debut during the tournament—made his name as a winger.

  • Selim Amallah of Morocco.

    Selim Amallah

    Added a touch of class to the Morocco midfield, notably in the game against Comoros when he tormented the opposition backline, registering both a goal and an assist.

    He also contributed a further assist in the victory over Malawi, and surely has the qualities to play at a higher level than the Belgian top flight.

  • Achraf Hakimi, Jim Allevinah, Gabon vs Morocco, January 2021

    Jim Allevinah

    Agen-born Allevinah was playing in the fifth tier of French football as recently as 2018, but his considerable rise at club level—he now plays in Ligue 1 with Clermont—is testament to his qualities in the front line.

    At the Nations Cup, his punchy play was evident as he stepped in to replace absent Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to great effect.

    He netted twice during the competition—the controversial late equaliser against Ghana, and then the opener against Morocco as the Panthers secured their progress to the knockouts—and the Central Africans will be much stronger for his presence.