We are hoping that the CAFCL will become more mainstream in the 2020s. As a parting with the old ways, we have put together a CAF Champions League hipster team of the decade.
This is a squad of 11 who either hit really high ceilings or did not get the respect they deserve. Well, we will give to them.
The formation is 4-3-3. The midfield will surprise you. It consists of a single pivot – unheard of in Africa. The fullbacks are also outrightly attacking ones. Sprinkle in a few one-season-wonders and I don’t think it can get more hipster than this. But I can justify the selection of each player.
Read on. Let me know what you think in the comment section below.
Goalkeeper: Senzo Meyiwa
Team: Orlando Pirates
Unfortunately, his life was cut short too soon. The 2 penalties he saved in Lubumbashi, against TP Mazembe, started a revolution. South Africa got interested in CAF Club Competitions once again. Orlando Pirates did not get the second star that season, 2013, but set precedence for an entire nation.
Center Back: Khalil Chemmam
Team: Esperance Tunis
Wait, isn’t he a left back? Hipster XI. The long-serving Esperance captain reinvented himself to become a central defender. He is good enough and has gone under-the-radar for long enough to warrant a spot here. 3-time CAF Champions League winner. Are you kidding me?
Center Back: Essaid Belkalem
Team: JS Kabylie
For a moment there, I thought JS Kabylie would lift the CAFCL in 2010. Don’t tell me you have not been watching this for that long? Their defense was watertight. A key player was Belkalem. He was so good, he broke through into Algeria’s national team that was momentarily reserved for binationals.
Right Back: Harisson Afful
Team: Esperance Tunis
Another footballers made in Africa who broke through into a really strong national team. Afful scored the CAF Champions League winning goal for Esperance in 2011.
Left Back: Ali Maaloul
Teams: CS Sfaxien, Al Ahly
“I swear he is good enough to play in Europe.” No Tunisian footballer is good enough to play in Europe 😆. Anyway, Maaloul remains a great attacking asset, has playmaking attributes and leadership skills. He is running out of time to win the CAF Champions League though.
Midfielder: Didier Ndong
Team: CS Sfaxien
How often does a player rise from CAF Champions League obscurity to play in the Premier League? Ndong did just that. Everyday, I feel bad Sfaxien did not go on to win the title in 2014. They were the best team that year, I swear.
Midfielder: Abdallah Said
Team: Al Ahly
Al Ahly player? Hipster? How so? Abdallah Said has gone on to become a villain despite having been a dependable club servant. And during a difficult period at that. Javier Garrido tried to utilize him more in the build-up phase of play but that did not go anywhere.
Midfielder: Walid El Karti
Team: Wydad Casablanca
He has been part of the whole ride in Wydad Casablanca’s renaissance. And I am obligated to include one graceful midfielder. Some say he is overrated. They do not know what they are talking about. Passing, playmaking and a dose of grinta.
Winger: Mouhcine Iajour
Teams: Wydad, Moghreb Tetouan, Raja Casablanca
Iajour has somehow managed to go unnoticed as a CAF Champions League goal threat throughout the decade. How good is he? Better than Anice Badri. He will not win the trophy but I am sure his Club World Cup exploits give him comfort.
Winger: Khama Billiat
Team: Mamelodi Sundowns
Oh he is good! I never thought Msakni would be topped but he was. Infact, Esperance Tunis fans were disappointed that he was injured when their turn to play Sundowns came. Is Billiat a better dribbler than Riyad Mahrez? Yes?
Striker: Emmanuel Clottey
Team: Berekum Chelsea
Saved the best for last. This was arguably the greatest one-season-wonder performance in CAFCL history. Berekum Chelsea will probably not qualify for this ever again. Yet we remember the scare they gave TP Mazembe, Zamalek and Al Ahly with Clottey scoring 12 goals in total. Esperance signed him but it did not pan out.