AFCON 2023 Team of the Tournament: Nigeria dominate defence, Ivorians sparkle further forward

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AFCON Team of the Tournament: Nigeria dominate defence, Ivorians sparkle further forward
Ivory Coast's Simon Adingra celebrates during the final
Ivory Coast's Simon Adingra celebrates during the final
AFP, Flashscore
This year's Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) will go down in history as one of the best, and plenty of players ensured that they'll be long-remembered too for their performances in it.

Using our internal player ratings system, we've put together a Team of the Tournament. In order to qualify for the team, players had to have appeared in four matches and played a minimum of 200 minutes.

Our AFCON Team of the Tournament
Flashscore

Goalkeeper

Ronwen Williams (South Africa) 7.4

The spot between the sticks was one of the easier positions to fill in this side, with Ronwen Williams comfortably being the tournament's standout goalkeeper.

The 32-year-old kept five clean sheets in seven matches and was the hero in South Africa's quarter-final win over Cape Verde, saving four out of five penalties in the shootout to earn an 8.7 rating from our system in that crucial encounter. 

Defence

Achraf Hakimi (Morocco) 7.6

Achraf Hakimi may not have made it as far as he would have liked with Morocco, but he can at least be largely pleased with his own performances in the four matches they played.

He was one of the stars of the group stages (making our team of the first round), getting an assist in the first match, a goal in the second and creating countless chances across the three games with his lethal crossing. All of that good work was overshadowed by the fact that he missed a crucial penalty in the 2-0 defeat to South Africa that followed, but before that, he was unstoppable.

William Troost-Ekong (Nigeria) 7.3

The official player of the tournament, Nigeria captain William Troost-Ekong was invaluable for his nation during their run to the final.

He led by example throughout the tournament with his rock-solid performances at the back, his courage to step forward and take the high-pressure penalties in the semi-final, and his ability to convert those penalties. He gave his team the lead in the final too, and while it may not have been enough, he can head back to his club knowing that he did everything he could.

Kialonda Gaspar (Angola) 7.4

Making it to the quarter-finals, Angola were one of the tournament's surprise packages, and 26-year-old centre-back Kialonda Gaspar was one of the biggest reasons for that. 

His stand-out performance came in the 2-0 win over Burkina Faso, during which he made eight clearances, four interceptions and won six out of seven duels, but the Estrela Amadora man defended excellently in all of their matches.

Calvin Bassey (Nigeria) 7.3

Calvin Bassey has made a mixed start to life at Fulham after reluctantly leaving Ajax in the summer but showed in Ivory Coast just what he's capable of on his day.

Playing on the left of a back three, the 24-year-old made a big impact at both ends of the pitch, defending well and constantly getting forward to support his team's attacks.

Midfield

Teboho Mokoena (South Africa) 7.4

Not many people would have heard of Teboho Mokoena before the start of the tournament, but plenty will know his name now thanks to his all-action displays.

Along with getting two goals and an assist in the seven matches that he played, he also made 13 key passes and nine tackles as he ran the show at the heart of the Bafana Bafana midfield.

Franck Kessie (Ivory Coast) 7.2

He may be the lowest-rated player to have made it into our team, but when it comes to importance, Franck Kessie is right up there at the top.

The 27-year-old stepped up when his nation needed him most, coming off the bench to score the penalty that took Ivory Coast to extra time against Senegal and then converting the winning spot-kick in the shootout before heading in the equaliser in the final. At this stage of his career, he's expected to become one of his national team's leaders, and he certainly was in their journey to the title.

Azzedine Ounahi (Morocco) 7.5

After being one the best players at the World Cup, Azzedine Ounahi impressed on the international stage again for Morocco at this tournament. 

After scoring an excellent goal to round off a world-class performance in their opening match against Tanzania, he was one of the side's few impressive players in their remaining three matches, making five key passes and winning 19 out of 27 duels.

Attack

Simon Adingra (Ivory Coast) 7.5

After not being involved in the champions' first two matches, Adingra was brought into the fold just before the knockout stages and played as big a part as anyone in their eventual triumph. 

The Brighton winger pounced on a loose ball to keep them alive with a 90th-minute equaliser against Mali, but it's his performance in the final that got him into this team. He ran the Nigeria backline ragged all night with his mesmerising dribbling and set up both of his team's goals with two wonderful crosses. 

Mohamed Mostafa (Egypt) 7.5

Egypt failed to make it past the first knockout round without talisman Mohamed Salah, but Mohamed Mostafa did everything he could to try and fill the void left by the Liverpool man.

He scored in each of the four games that he played and three of those goals were excellent finishes from open play that the best strikers in the world would be proud of. 

Gelson Dala (Angola) 7.4

One of the most exciting forwards to watch throughout the tournament was Gelson Dala, who was on fire for Angola during their run to the last eight. He opened his account with two goals in their 3-2 win against Mauritania and then bagged another brace as well as an assist in a stunning performance against Namibia in the round of 16.

Gelson Dala ended the tournament with four goals, second only to Golden Boot winner Emilio Nsue.

An honourable mention goes out to Nigeria's Ademola Lookman who only narrowly missed out on making our front three with an average rating of 7.2. Lookman scored twice in his side's round-of-16 win over Cameroon and then again in their quarter-final win over Angola.

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