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AFCON- Africa Cup of Nations

AFCON 2023 Team of Matchday 2: From Emilio Nsue's hattrick to Achraf Hakimi's magic

Published at :January 23, 2024 at 11:49 PM
Modified at :January 23, 2024 at 11:49 PM
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None of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané, Kalidou Koulibaly and André Onana fared better than these guys in AFCON 2023

The Africa Cup of Nations 2023 (AFCON 2023) matchday 2 began with a 6-goal thriller. It was a match between Equatorial Guinea and Guinea-Bissau. The game ended 4-2 in favour of the side who also go by the name of National Thunder. It was a fixture from Group A.

Even the last fixture from matchday 2 was an achievement in its own right. A 4-0 victory over Namibia meant South Africa recorded the biggest margin win so far in the tournament.

Many players have taken centre stage with their performances. These were the stars of matchday 2 from AFCON 2023 group stage games. And it is interesting to see that none of the big names like – Riyad Mahrez, Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané, Kalidou Koulibaly and André Onana, fared better than these guys.

GK: Stanley Nwabili (Nigeria)

Even though Ivory Coast started on the front foot on matchday 1, they were humbled last time out. Nigeria won 1-0 over the hosts. Stanley Nwabili was the man in between the posts who didn’t succumb to the pressure of a whole nation wishing him to concede at least once. Nwabili made 3 crucial saves.

RB: Achraf Hakimi (Morocco)

Morocco AFCON 2023 Achraf Hakimi
Hakimi opened his goal-scoring account in the tournament

The player has played for clubs like Real Madrid, Inter Milan, and Borussia Dortmund, and is currently with Paris Saint-Germain for a reason. Achraf Hakimi is no doubt the biggest star in his national side. And in the game against DR Congo, Morocco‘s only goal came from Hakimi’s volley effort. A Hakim Ziyech corner was met by the number 2’s boot in the air which eventually found the back of the net.

CB: Calvin Bassey (Nigeria)

In the same game, where Nwabili shone, it wouldn’t have been possible without the rock-solid backline. Fulham‘s Calvin Bassey played as the left-sided centre-back in a 3-4-3 formation. Head coach José Peseiro will be pleased with his composure throughout the 90 minutes. Bassey completed 20 passes while also winning 4 tackles.

CB: William Troost-Ekong (Nigeria)

William Troost-Ekong was leading his nation like a true captain. Troost-Ekong was the central man in the three-man defence. Apart from completing 16 passes accurately from the back, the Super Eagles captain made 2 crucial tackles. The centre-back even stepped up for a penalty kick which he netted brilliantly to seal a 1-0 win.

LB: Ali Al-Abdi (Tunisia)

Ali Al-Abdi was called up from Stade Malherbe Caen who plays in the second tier of French football. And just like he starts for his club as a left-back, Al-Abdi plays in the same position for Tunisia. On matchday 2, the Carthage Eagles were up against Mali in Group E. The fullback played the full 90 minutes and also helped set up Hamza Rafia for the equaliser.

RCM: Gelson Dala (Angola)

The Man of the Match winner from the thrilling Mauritania 2-3 Angola game. Gelson Dala scored a brace on the night. His two goals helped his team celebrate adding more 3 points to the Group D table. Dala started as a left-attacking midfielder in a 4-2-3-1 formation. And with precision, the 27-year-old was able to convert 50 per cent of his total 4 attempted shots.

CM: Aguibou Camara (Guinea)

Aguibou Camara and his nation, Guinea were contesting Gambia on matchday 2 from Group C. Camara ended up as the solo goal scorer for the night. The win helped the National Elephants build a solid 4 points on the Group C table. The 22-year-old midfielder will be eager to face the defending champions Senegal on matchday 3.

LCM: Mohammed Kudus (Ghana)

Mohammed Kudus will complete the 2023 AFCON Team of the Matchday 2 midfield. Before even the tournament began, Kudus was expected to be the shining light for the Ghana national football team. On matchday 2, the West Ham attacking midfielder proved his worth by scoring a brace. The brace of goals helped settle the game against Egypt as a 2-2 draw.

RW: Themba Zwane (South Africa)

Themba Zwane played a big part in helping South Africa record the biggest margin win so far in the competition. Namibia may have felt helpless against Zwane and Co given in the first half itself their opponents were 3-0 up. A brace of goals by the number 11 puts him along with the others for the Team of the Matchday 2 squad.

ST: Emilio Nsue (Equatorial Guinea)

Equatorial Guinea AFCON 2023 Emilio Nsue
Equatorial Guinea’s captain is the leading scorer in the competition

Before the 2023 AFCON began when was the last time a player scored a hat trick? It was way back in January 2008 by Morocco’s Soufiane Alloidi. Equatorial Guinea’s striker and captain Emilio Nsue dusted off the record books that weren’t updated in 16 years. A hattrick against Guinea-Bissau at the 2023 AFCONs will go down as a historic achievement for the 34-year-old.

LW: Omar Marmoush (Egypt)

After Mohamed Salah was subbed off, Ghana’s Mohammed Kudus struck a goal to put his team ahead just a minute later. This came as a big blow for the Pharaohs. However, Omar Marmoush appeared as a ghost for the opposition scoring from half a chance which was a back pass to the goalkeeper by Iñaki Williams. His goal brilliantly helped inspire his side to challenge further.

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