What has happened to the Team of the Tournament from AFCON 2019?
A centre back linked with every top club in Europe, a striker who earned himself a cameo at Man United and one of the BEST goalscorers in the Premier League… the AFCON Team of the Tournament in 2019 had plenty of big names, so where are they now?
- Algeria won the tournament for the second time, beating Senegal 1-0 in the final
- Striker Baghdad Bounedjah scored the only goal to hand Algeria the victory
- Odion Ighalo finished as the competition’s top scorer with five goals for Nigeria
- Algeria midfielder Ismael Bennacer received the Player of the Tournament award
The 32nd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) was held in Egypt in 2019, with 24 teams competing to be crowned the best team on the continent.
After 52 matches, it was Algeria who emerged victorious as they edged past Senegal 1-0 in the final thanks to a second-minute winner from Baghdad Bounedjah.
It was only the second time that the North African country had won the competition, and was their first triumph in 29 years.
At the conclusion of the event, a Team of the Tournament was put together by the Confederation of African Football (CAF), determining the best XI to have featured across the four weeks of competition.
But what has happened to those players? Have they kicked on, or struggled to shine in the years since? Sportsmail takes a look…
Baghdad Bounedjah (R) scored the only goal of the final for Algeria to defeat Senegal in 2019
Goalkeeper: Rais M’Bolhi (Algeria)
Many fans may not have been aware of Rais M’Bolhi heading into the 2019 tournament, but he quickly established himself as a key figure in between the sticks for Algeria.
The shot-stopper did not concede a single goal in his side’s opening four games as Algeria raced through to the quarter-finals. He saved his best performance for the final, though, managing to keep Senegal at bay, and he was duly awarded the Player of the Match.
At club level, he has spent the last three years at Al-Ettifaq in Saudi Arabia, and the 35-year-old’s experience could be vital for Algeria as they look to retain their crown in Cameroon in 2022.
Algeria goalkeeper Rais M’Bolhi refused to be beaten in the final against Senegal in 2019
Lamine Gassama did not feature in the first two games in 2019, yet he made up for lost time thereafter.
He started Senegal’s final five matches of the competition, during which time the team only conceded once.
However, he is currently without a club after being released by Turkish side Goztepe in the summer, and he has not played for his country since June.
Centre back: Yassine Meriah (Tunisia)
Yassine Meriah is one of only two players in this team who did not make it to the final.
He played every minute for Tunisia during their run to the semi-finals where they were beaten 1-0 by Senegal after extra time.
The 28-year-old moved to the UAE in July to join Al-Ain, and he remains a regular at the heart of Tunisia’s defence, having racked up 58 international caps.
Centre back: Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal)
Missing a major final due to suspension must be heart-breaking. That’s exactly what happened to Kalidou Koulibaly in 2019.
Still, his performances prior to the showpiece event earned him a spot in the Team of the Tournament. Senegal conceded just one goal in the six matches he appeared in.
Despite speculation linking him with a move to some of the biggest clubs in Europe, Koulibaly has remained loyal to Napoli, and is now into his eighth season at the club.
Kalidou Koulibaly was a rock at the back for Senegal, but missed the final due to suspension
Left-back: Youssouf Sabaly (Senegal)
Youssouf Sabaly is capable of covering either full-back position, but in 2019 he was selected to play on the left. He did not disappoint.
Playing alongside Gassama and Koulibaly, he ensured that Senegal’s defence was almost unbreachable throughout the tournament.
Two years ago he was on Bordeaux’s books in France, but he has since moved to Spain to play for Real Betis. His current campaign has been disrupted by a thigh injury he picked up in pre-season, and he has not got any minutes for his country in 2021.
Defensive midfielder: Adlene Guedioura (Algeria)
Adlene Guedioura rolled back the years in 2019 to star in the middle of the park for Algeria.
Playing as a deep-lying midfielder, he allowed other players around him to flourish, while he protected the back four.
Having spent the majority of his career in England, Guedioura had a stint in Qatar between 2019 and 2021, before returning to the UK to join Sheffield United in September.
Central midfielder: Idrissa Gueye (Senegal)
Idrissa Gueye chipped in with a goal and an assist in 2019 in Egypt, which included scoring the winner against Benin in the quarter-final.
The central midfielder entered the tournament as an Everton player, but his performances earned him a switch to Ligue 1 giants PSG.
He remains on their books, and featured in seven Champions League matches on their run to the final last year.
Idrissa Gueye celebrates his goal in the quarter-final for Senegal against Benin
Central midfielder: Ismael Bennacer (Algeria)
Having just been relegated from Serie A with Empoli in 2018-19, Ismael Bennacer quickly put that behind him to blossom for his country.
He established himself as one of Algeria’s chief creators during the tournament as he registered three assists, and he was duly rewarded by being named Player of the Tournament.
Still only 24, he is now at AC Milan, and played a pivotal role in the side’s midfield last term to get Stefano Pioli’s men back into this season’s Champions League after a seven-year absence from the competition.
Right wing: Riyad Mahrez (Algeria)
Premier League fans will be very aware of what Riyad Mahrez brings to the table, and he was at his best for Algeria two years ago.
Captaining his country on the big stage, he delivered time and time again, scoring three goals. His standout moment arrived in the semi-final when he fired home a free-kick deep into stoppage time to eliminate Nigeria.
Now 30, Mahrez is still playing at the highest level for Manchester City, and was one of Pep Guardiola’s most trusted players as the team regained the Premier League title in 2020-21.
Riyad Mahrez scored a stunning goal in the final minute of the semi-final to see off Nigeria
Left wing: Sadio Mane (Senegal)
Sadio Mane’s tournament in 2019 was not perfect as he missed two penalties, but he more than made up for it with his all-round displays.
The Liverpool winger scored three goals for Senegal, including bagging a brace against Kenya.
He continued his form at Anfield the following season as Liverpool ended their 30-year wait for a league title, and he is still one of the first names on the teamsheet for the Reds.
Striker: Odion Ighalo (Nigeria)
Odion Ighalo was unable to carry his team to the final, but he still made a major impact for the Super Eagles.
He found the net five times, and scored the winner in the third-place play-off against Tunisia to end the competition with the Golden Boot.
The striker got his dream move to Manchester United in January 2020, but he has since left England, and is now playing for Al-Shadab Riyadh in Saudi Arabia.
Odion Ighalo lit up the tournament, and finished as the top scorer with five goals for Nigeria
The Africa Cup of Nations Team of the Tournament for 2019 as selected by CAF
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