CHAN: The best XI of the tournament
After a thrilling three weeks of end-to-end action in the TotalEnergies African Nations Championship (CHAN) 2022 in Algeria, the CAF Technical Study Group has compiled the best starting line-up of the whole tournament.
As expected, the team is predominantly comprised of Senegalese and Algerian players who inspired their teams to the final of the CHAN seventh edition as well as the debuting Malagasy players that were the talk of town.
The winning formula here is a modern day 4-3-3 setup.
GOALKEEPER: Pape Sy (Senegal)
Standing tall within the goalposts with confidence and an authoritative aura about him, Sy was exceptional for the Local Teranga Lions throughout the tournament.
The Generation Foot custodian kept five clean sheets conceding only once against Uganda in their second Group B tie before playing a crucial role in the final against hosts Algeria in a tense penalty shootout.
Sy denied the tournament’s highest goal scorer Aimen Mahious who attempted the Panenka from 12 yards to secure the CHAN title to Senegal – literally.
RIGHT BACK: Mamadou Sané (Senegal)
Sané was one of the most influential players for the Senegalese outfit in this competition. The 19-year-old Teungueth de Rufisque star provided defensive cover for the Lions of Teranga while also showcasing impressive attacking prowess up front to supply the forward line with passes especially to talisman Papa Amadou Diallo.
RIGHT CENTRAL DEFENDER: Ayoub Abdellaoui (Algeria)
Shining throughout this CHAN, the “Cobtan” (note: captain in Arabic) of the Desert Foxes was a thorn in the neck of opposing forwards. His tackles were timely, careful and he fought for every second ball. He had a superior aerial presence that was key to Algeria’s defense that saw them become the first team in the history of the tournament to keep six clean sheets.
LEFT CENTRAL DEFENDER: Chouaïb Keddad (Algeria)
Keddad rewarded Bougherra for the confidence he showed in naming him in the CHAN squad. He was dominant in duels with opposing players and was consistent throughout the whole tournament. He communicated well with Abdellaoui and this was very visible especially against Ethiopia and Niger. The 29-year-old CR Belouizdad star is the complete central defender.
LEFT BACK: Cheick Sidibé (Senegal)
In a Senegalese team where defensive rigour is a decisive aspect of Pape Thiaw’s game plan, the strength of the Teungueth player was his ability to balance his defensive and attacking contributions to the team. A decisive passer against the Democratic Republic of Congo and Côte d’Ivoire, he was able to contain the attacks of his opponents very well too.
DEFENSIVE MIDFIELD: Lamine Camara (Senegal)
A new star is born! For someone who was playing in his first CHAN tournament, Camara came off as one who had been on this stage in the past. He was at the heart of the Local Teranga Lions doing everything you need in a player in this role.
He gave Thiaw’s team a soul on a journey that earned the native of Tivaouane fans in Algeria and across the world – social media platforms can attest to that. He was consistent in every game for Senegal and for his age – a 19-year-old playing like that, Camara was extraordinary. He is the ultimate revelation of this tournament.
DEFENSIVE MIDFIELD: Houssem Mrezigue (Algeria)
Some will say that Mrezigue was the revelation of the tournament, but others will say that his performances were a confirmation of what has been long known at least in the past year since his incredible performance as Algeria won the FIFA Arab Cup in December 2021 in Qatar.
The CR Belouizdad player shone in the midfield of the Desert Foxes. A great craftsman who understood the assignment. He pressed when his team did not have the ball and when he won it back, he orchestrated the team’s counterattacks.
His prowess was seen clearly in the semi-final against Niger when he walked away with the TotalEnergies Man-of-the-Match Award following Algeria’s 5-0 victory.
ATTACKING MIDFIELDER: Arohasina Andrianarimanana (Madagascar)
Dax, as he is nicknamed, excelled in keeping the ball. His deflection on the Malagasy opener against Ghana is just one example of all his fabulous tactical awareness at this tournament. He was very valuable in recovery by putting pressure on the opposing midfielders as the Mozambicans can testify in the quarter-finals. Dax distinguished himself by a sensational technical quality as well which allowed him to make all the Malagasy supporters dream and some called him the “Messi” of the Big Island.
RIGHT WINGER: Solomampionona Razafindranaivo Koloina (Madagascar)
The future of Barea upfront in attack is stunning. Playing at his first CHAN, Koloina was so good that he was signed by Algerian outfit MC Alger.
As the second highest scorer at the tournament with three goals, the Malagasy is the go-to man of his team. At 22, Koloina has everything from a great, silky touch on the ball to an unparalleled vision of the game and an ability to withstand pressure.
LEFT WINGER: Papa Diallo (Senegal)
At only 19 years old, the Generation Foot player dazzled his skills at this CHAN with his acceleration. The Senegalese number 10 fascinated all with his leadership, especially his ability to lead his side’s attacking moves. Ultra-important in recovery through his pressing and counter-pressing, Diallo was also effective defensively.
FORWARD: Aimen Mahious (Algeria)
Brilliant and impressive, these two words describe Aimen Mahious very well. Top scorer in the competition with five goals, his brace against Niger will remain one of the highlights of this tournament. His missed penalty in the final against Senegal in no way belittles his achievements at the continental tournament.