Overall Best Players …4 days to start of kick-off

 The seventh edition of the TotalEn­ergies African Nations Champi­onship (CHAN) will get underway in Algeria on January 13, with 18 countries vying to succeed Moroc­co as champions.

As the sides battle for the crown, over 400 footballers will showcase their talents in hope to garner indi­vidual accolades.

The tournament’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) is one of the indi­vidual awards that have spiced the past six editions as it is reserved for the most outstanding player of the competition.

In this piece, we revisit the winners of MVP awards since the inception of the tournament in Côte d’Ivoire in 2009.

Trésor MputuMabi

Congolese forward, Trésor Mpu­tuMabi, was the first player to claim the tournament’s MVP when he helped his country win the maiden edition of the CHAN in Ivory Coast in 2009. The TP Mazem­be man scored just once in the competition, but his overall display was worthy enough to outmatch Zambia’s Given Singuluma, who finished top scorer.

Mputu’s player of the tourna­ment award marked a start of a great year for him as he went on to feature in CAF Team of the Year, CAF’s Best African Player on the Continent award and was nominat­ed for the BBC African Footballer that same year.

Zouheir Dhaouadi

Tunisian winger, Zouheir Dhaouadi, was named best player of the CHAN in 2011. Before the competition, Dhaouadi was already a full Tunisia international and made four appearances at the 2010 TotalEnergies AFCON.

His three goals helped Tunisia clinch the trophy in 2011, including his strike against Angola in the final that helped them to win the title. Not only did he finish amongst the top scorers, his performance was good enough to earn him the MVP.

Ejike Uzoenyi

Nigerian international, Ejike Uzoenyi, was the third player ever to be crowned best player at the CHAN, following his performance in South Africa 2014.

The then Enugu Rangers winger scored three goals in Nigeria’s journey to the semi-finals, netting twice against South Africa in the group stage, and scoring one of his side’s four goals in the quarter-final against Morocco.

Uzoenyi scored Nigeria’s lone penalty in their 4-1 penalty shootout defeat to Ghana in the semi-finals. His standout perfor­mance was rewarded with an MVP. He also finished just a goal shy of the tournament’s top scorer, Ber­nard Parker of South Africa.

Not only did he win the tourna­ment’s Most Valuable player, but he also seduced officials of South Af­rican giant, Mamelodi Sundowns, who acquired his services a few months after the competition.

Meshack Elia

Congolese forward, Meschak Elia Lina, was instrumental in his country winning their second CHAN trophy in Rwanda 2016. Then with TP Mazembe, the forward netted four times to finish top scorer and best player of the tournament. Meshack became the second Congolese to be crowned MVP at the CHAN.

His brilliant performance at the CHAN in Rwanda was followed by a scintillating run in 2016 and 2017 with TP Mazembe, where he won the CAF Super Cup and the TotalEnergies CAF Confederation Cup.

Ayoub El Kaabi

Moroccan forward, Ayoub El Kaabi, is probably the best player in the history of the TotalEnergies African Nations championship. His nine goals in the 2018 edition of the competition on home soil remains the record highest scored by any player in the history of the competition.

El Kaabi played a key role in Morocco winning their first CHAN trophy in 2018, during which he finished top scorer and best player of the competition.

Soufiane Rahimi

Morocco’s Soufiane Rahimi wrote his own history during the sixth edition of the tournament in Cameroon. Then a player of Raja Casablanca, Rahimi scored twice in their last group game against Ugan­da, and then scored the opener in their 3-1 win over Zambia in the quarter-finals.

His brace against host, Camer­oon, handed the local Atlas Lions a big win in the semi-final. Though he didn’t find the back of the net in the final, his dazzling display and goals were enough to earn him the MVP and top scorer.

With the TotalEnergies CHAN 2022 in Algeria around the corner, all eyes will be keen on seeing who becomes the next big thing of the CHAN. — Cafonline

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