The great Mark Gleeson once said that if an African player is good then he will be playing in Europe. Do you agree with him?

I think he watches too much West African football. Other regions in Africa are not as widely covered by the foreign network of scouts. So, not all good players in Africa end up in European leagues.

Moreover, a few African leagues have clubs that are rich enough to hold onto good players.


The few excellent players that remain in Africa make the CAF Champions League a high quality competition. Unfortunately, these players are often subject to interest by European and Gulf clubs. We are never sure how much longer they will continue to feature in the CAFCL.

All the same, we enjoy good things while they last. Right now there are 10 footballers who stand out for us as the best players in Africa.

I will get it out of the way that Jackson Muleka does not feature in our list. Departure of the TP Mazembe striker has been pretty much confirmed. And all playets are Africans (sorry Sirino 😁)


Now, let’s get to the top 10 players based in Africa right now:

10. Badi Aouk

Badie Aouk

Aouk is also in our list of underrated players based in Africa. The Wydad Casablanca winger is a goal threat and has technique to beat any defender 1v1.

9. Mohamed El-Shenawy

Mohamed El-Shenawy

SPOILER ALERT!!! Mohamed El-Shenawy is the only goalkeeper in this list.

The Ahly number one has proven to be a reliable last line of defence. He does not make spectacular saves. But that is only because he has excellent positioning.

 8. Abdelilah Hafidi

Abdelilah Hafidi

Abdelilah Hafidi’s story is tragic. He is a flair winger with a high ceiling. But his career has been beset by injuries. We still rank Hafidi because of his talent.

7. Achraf Bencharki

Achraf Bencharki

UEFA Champions League has Karim Benzema. CAF Champions League has Achraf Bencharki. He has proven at both Wydad Casablanca and Zamalek that he is a “clutch” striker.

6. Fousseny Coulibaly

Fousseny Coulibaly

Fousseny Coulibaly was probably as important as Belaili to Esperance Tunis’ CAFCL back-to-back success. He is the best box-to-box midfielder in Africa.

5. Walid El Karti

Walid El Karti
Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

El Karti, for me, is the most “clutch” footballer based in Africa. He decisively shows up in big matches. I don’t know why Morocco national team doesn’t call him yet they need players with his mentality.

4. Themba Zwane

Themba Zwane

Themba Zwane is the personification of Pitso’s versatile Sundowns team. He can play anywhere upfront. And on his very best day, he is up there with the very best.

3. Ali Maaloul

Ali Maaloul

Tunisians complain that Ali Maaloul does not perform as good for the Carthage Eagles as he does for Al Ahly. In Cairo, he essentially owns the left flank as both fullback, winger and playmaker. Yes, he’s like Marcelo.

2. Ramadan Sobhi

Ramadan Sobhi Ahly

He has played in the Premier League. Do I need to say more? Sobhi brings dynamism to any team’s attack because he can create chances out of nothing.

1. Ferjani Sassi

Ferjani Sassi

Ferjani Sassi is the best player based in Africa. The central midfielder is the most important player at Zamalek. And he showed us his prowess during his time at both Esperance Tunis and CS Sfaxien.

What does he do? Sassi is creative, has a sense of defensive responsibility and is a goal threat in small doses.