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The Best African Football Teams of the Last Decade

It is 2021, and no African country has yet to win the World Cup. African teams, on the other hand, are definitely improving with each passing year.

27 Oct 2021    

This is attributed to the African Cup of Nations (AFCON), which is held every two years and features 24 teams competing for the title of African Champions. We'll take a look at five of the finest African teams over the past 10 years below.

Meanwhile, as the FIFA World Cup qualifiers continue across several cities in Africa and the rest of the world, you can be part of the action by joining the Betway sign up for a chance to win with the leading bookmaker in Africa.

#1. Algeria

Algeria suffered for close to two years after a string of mismanagement leading up to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. They notably missed out on the World Cup, prompting the country’s top football body to make changes to the team.

It all came together in the tournament, as they walloped Kenya, Tanzania, and Guinea in the early rounds, before defeating fellow group favourites Senegal 1-0 in a tense group-stage match.

They rode their luck with a penalty shootout win against Ivory Coast in the quarter-finals, and Riyad Mahrez's 95th-minute free-kick guaranteed passage to the semi-finals against Nigeria, before seeing off Senegal again, this time in the finals.

#2. Ivory Coast

Before Herve Renard took charge in late 2014, the Golden Generation had been written off, with the Elephants missing out on the 2014 World Cup knockout rounds for the second time.

Their morale had been shattered after failing to win the Nations Cup on many occasions, while star player Didier Drogba had retired from international football.

Renard, on the other hand, changed the side, cutting a few of the lingering old faces—one prominent figure who has been discarded was Sol Bamba—and relying on youth to complement some of the more experienced heads.

In defense, Kolo Toure teamed up with Wilfried Kanon and Eric Bailly, while Yaya Toure and Gervinho blossomed alongside Serge Aurier, Max Gradel, and Wilfried Bony.

#3. Nigeria

Nigeria, like Algeria and the Ivory Coast, achieved one of their biggest victories against low expectations, with Stephen Keshi's youthful team not expected to make an impression at the 2013 Nations Cup.

They rode their luck in the group stage, needing a Victor Moses double against Ethiopia to advance to the knockouts, but in the knockouts, the Super Eagles' unheralded Sunday Mba came to the fore, scoring winners against the Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso (in the final) to secure their third continental title.

While Mba's journey from obscurity to national hero was the focus, Vincent Enyeama's leadership, Kenneth Omeruo and Godfrey Oboabona's defensive combination, and John Obi Mikel's midfield double act with Ogenyi Onazi were also essential components of a strong team.

#4. Ghana

Ghana's heroics in the 2010 World Cup have gotten so much attention that it's easy to forget about their Nations Cup campaign earlier that year, when they kept a formidable Egypt squad at bay for 85 minutes in the final before Gedo shattered the Black Stars' hearts.

The West Africans had already defeated Togo, Angola, and Nigeria on route to the final, with Asamoah Gyan and Andre Ayew in in good form.

Those two would play a key role in Ghana's World Cup campaign in South Africa, when Milovan Rajevac's brilliant team became only the third African team to reach the quarter-finals on the big stage.

#5. Zambia

Zambia's accomplishment in the 2012 Nations Cup is easily the biggest achievement by any of the continent's teams over the previous decade. 

Renard's tactical genius and motivational abilities, a few huge strokes of luck, and the emotional wave that surrounded the 20th anniversary of the aircraft accident that killed the entire of Zambia's famed 1993 side propelled a very small Chipolopolo team to an unexpected continental title.

As Zambia surprised more fancied opponents in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, Kennedy Mweene was inspiring in goal, Stophira Sunzu was immaculate in defense, and Emmanuel Mayuka, Rainford Kalaba, and Christopher Katongo scored crucial goals.

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