February 9, 2015 / 8:42 PM / 3 years ago

Soccer-African Nations Cup Best XI

BATA, Equatorial Guinea, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Team of the African Nations Cup selected by Reuters journalists.

Goalkeeper: Felipe Ovono (Equatorial Guinea).

The inexperienced 22-year-old from the home team was always going to have a busy Nations Cup given the motley collection of players ahead of him and came up with several sparkling saves at key moments to help propel the host nation to an unlikely semi-final place.

Right Back: Serge Aurier (Ivory Coast).

The driving runs of the Paris St Germain player were a big factor in attack for the eventual winners but Aurier proved his defensive acumen on several occasions with his pace, tracking back and some tough tackling.

Left back: Baba Rahman (Ghana).

He arrived at the tournament with a growing reputation and will leave with it greatly enhanced. Little got past the 20-year-old from FC Augsburg in the Bundesliga and he showed a canniness that belied his age when going forward, picking his moments to join the attack with the vision of a long-time campaigner.

Central defence: John Boye (Ghana). The centre back did not start the tournament as first choice but when Daniel Amartey was injured early in the last group game against South Africa, Boye came on to score and resurrect Ghana's chances. He was full of determination and fight and very quickly made clear he should not been left out in the first place.

Central defence: Aymen Abdennour (Tunisia).

Rarely caught out and clever with his cover, the Monaco man was again the rock at the back for Tunisia whose defence had been notoriously stingy through the qualifiers and finals. But he gave away the free kick that ultimately cost Tunisia in the controversial quarter-final loss to Equatorial Guinea.

Defensive midfielder: Chancel Mbemba (DR Congo).

Clever link play, impressive drives forward and solid tackling made the Anderlecht man one of the finds of the tournament. Mbemba provide astute cover in front of his defence and, when prudent, always dangerous as he propelled the ball forward.

Attacking midfielder: Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast). Finally the four-time African Footballer of the Year was able to bag a title with his country in a tournament in which he started slowly and looked tired at times and yet always still proved decisive.

Left wing: Gervinho (Ivory Coast). Sent off in the opening game, Gervinho returned refreshed after a two-match ban in the quarter-finals to galvanise an important victory over Algeria, followed by the triumph over DR Congo in the semi-finals.

Right midfield: Dede Ayew (Ghana). Perennially tricky for opposing defences to deal with, Ayew proved the key man at the tournament for the runners-up with his runs and his probing. Of his three goals at the tournament, the winner he scored against South Africa was a perfect example of the worth of his contribution.

Central striker: Thievy Bifouma (Congo). A vital goal in the opening game of the tournament showed all his strong characteristics with a burst of incredible pace and then an accurate finish. It spared Congo an embarrassing defeat and spurred them onto a quarter-final place for the first time since 1992 with Bifouma scoring twice more.

Central striker: Wilfried Bony (Ivory Coast). Bony's physical strength, quickness about the box and finishing ability meant there was little emotion about the absence of Didier Drogba this time round for the Ivorians. (Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Justin Palmer; mark.gleeson@thomsonreuters.com; +240222770533; Reuters Messaging: mark.gleeson.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)

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