The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar came to an end on Sunday as Argentina and Lionel Messi lifted the trophy for the first time in 36 years. The tournament was widely considered a success, and so was the performances of many African nations, particularly Morocco who became the first African country to reach the semi-finals. Given the heroic performances from players across the continent, it will be fitting to break down who exactly were the best African players at the World Cup.
Achraf Hakimi – Morocco
Arguably the biggest name on the list, PSG star Achraf Hakimi reminded the world why he should definitely be included in the conversation for the best right-back on the planet.
The former Real Madrid prospect was instrumental in the Atlas Lions’ run to the last four, constantly bombarding up and down the right flank. Hakimi’s searing pace allowed him to make some astonishing recovery tackles, especially in the semi-finals where he kept teammate and good friend Kylian Mbappe relatively quiet.
Hakimi also exhibited his nerves of steel in the penalty shootout of their Round of 16 clash with Spain, chipping the keeper in the decisive penalty to send Morocco through.
Despite the slight disappointment of not beating Croatia in the Third/Fourth place playoff, Hakimi can hold his head up high following a strong competition which has led to him being named in the team of the tournament across many publications.
Vincent Aboubakar – Cameroon
Vincent Aboubakar had been in the headlines prior to the World Cup for his comments regarding Liverpool superstar Mo Salah. The Cameroon international stated that he could do exactly what Salah can, and that he’s on the same level if not better than the Egyptian.
Aboubakar’s showings in Qatar has done nothing but strengthen his case, albeit in vain. The striker notched up 2 goals and an assist as Cameroon were eliminated at the group stage, but did well in their fixtures against Brazil, whom they beat, and Serbia.
The current star of Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia was brilliant against Serbia, coming off the bench to grab a goal and an assist to bring the African giants back to level terms after being 3-1 down.
His performances in this year’s World Cup has attracted interest from many suitors across Europe, including Spanish side Rayo Vallecano. Aboubakar certainly still does have a lot to offer and will be a smart buy for any club in dire need of goals.
Mohammed Kudus – Ghana
Mohammed Kudus continued to make waves at the World Cup in Qatar, carrying his club form with Ajax onto the international stage. The 22-year-old was not only one of the best African players at the tournament, but also among the best youngsters across all nations.
Kudus is already a highly rated player having risen to prominence in recent months with the Dutch giants.
Kudus bagged two goals in Qatar as Ghana were also eliminated at the group stage, although they faced major competition in Portugal, Uruguay and South Korea.
The Ajax star already has 9 goals in 20 appearances at club level this campaign, including a rocket against Liverpool at Anfield in the UEFA Champions League.
Kudus is already being linked with a host of European giants, namely Arsenal, Man United and Liverpool. If he is to continue his current form, it won’t be long before we see him donning the shirt of one of Europe’s elite.
Sofyan Amrabat – Morocco
At the start of the tournament, many confused Sofyan Amrabat for his brother, Nordin, and thus were not expecting what was to come from the Moroccan.
The 26-year-old combative midfielder was everywhere on the pitch for the Atlas Lions, breaking up play and progressing the ball to the midfield as he sat as the anchor in front of the defence.
The Fiorentina star averaged over 3 tackles and interceptions during the World Cup and also made 1.4 clearances per 90 minutes. Furthermore, Amrabat completed 85% of his passes which illustrates his security on the ball.
What made Amrabat’s performances even more impressive was his extreme work rate, often still covering all blades of grass late into the game and even during extra-time.
Amrabat was deservedly included in the team of the competition as he no doubt played an extremely important role in a history-making tournament for Morocco and Africa.
Azzedine Ounahi – Morocco
Azzedine Ounahi has arguably been the breakout star of the tournament after some stellar performances have led to his name being on the lips of fans and professionals worldwide.
Ounahi is an elegant, silky-smooth operator in midfield with the exciting ability of being able to progress the ball up-field with trickery and grace, as well being extremely press-resistant.
Despite his skinny-stature, Ounahi has shown at the World Cup what an astute all-round midfielder he is, making 2.5 tackles and interceptions per match, whilst also completing 1.5 dribbles and 1 key pass per 90 minutes in Qatar.
These numbers are down considerably from his club form with French side Angers, who are currently bottom of Ligue 1. Which goes to show that even in a poor side, Ounahi shines, a characteristic of elite mentality and temperament, especially on a 22-year-old.
Ounahi has also been linked with a host of clubs as fans around Europe urge their club to get a deal done for the young Moroccan. However, reports suggest Leicester City are currently leading the race for Ounahi’s signature, which represents a sensible next step in his career.
Expect to hear this name a lot both in Europe and Africa over the next few years.