The year 2015 was eventful in African and European football. Many African stars were outstanding for their clubs and countries in the outgone year.
Completesportsnigeria.com’s IZUCHUKWU OKOSI presents the eleven African stars whose impacts were remarkable in 2015.
Cameroon international Idriss Kameni had a splendid 2015 for his La Liga side Malaga.
Kameni made 39 La Liga appearances in the 2015 calendar year for Malaga and kept 11 clean sheets.
The most remarkable Kameni performance in the outgoing year was the goalless draw against Real Madrid on September 26, 2015. The keeper thwarted all the best efforts of Cristiano Ronaldo and co to score with outstanding saves and was duly awarded the Man-of-the-Match prize.
Elephants of Cote d’ Ivoire and PSG right back Serge Aurier was an Africa Cup of Nations winner with his national team in 2015.
The defender was splendid at the tournament in Equatorial Guinea and played in all his country’s six games and was yellow-carded twice at the AFCON.
The defender returned back to his French club after Cote d’ Ivoire’s triumph and played six games in the Ligue 1 between February and May 2015. He was yellow-carded once during this period.
Aurier started the 2015/16 season in great fashion, scoring a goal in PSG ‘s 2-0 win vs Lyon in the French Super Cup on Aug 1,2015. Subsequently he played 13 Ligue 1 games and three Champions League games. Aurier scored four goals and was booked nine times (yellow cards) in all competitions this season.
Black Stars of Ghana central defender John Boye had a good 2015. The central defender was part of the Ghana national team that reached the final of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, losing to Cote d’ Ivoire via penalties after goalless 90 minutes.
Boye played in four AFCON games, and scored a goal against South Africa on January 27 in a 2-1 win.
Boye played 12 Turkish Lig games for Sivasspor between January to May 2015 and scored a goal. He was booked four times within this period (three yellows, one red).
Between August to December 2015, the defender also played 12 league games, scored four goals, and booked six times (four yellows, two reds).
Super Eagles of Nigeria left back Elderson Echiejile played a total of 16 Ligue 1 games in 2015 (12 games in current season), playing a key part in the Principlity club’s top two finish last season that ended in May 2015 and the 2nd place standing in the current campaign so far.
He played a French League Cup for his team, a Champions League game and four Europa League games in the year.
Current African Footballer of the Year Yaya Toure without doubt had a good 2015.
The enigmatic Manchester City star won the Africa Cup of Nations with the Elephants of Cote d’ Ivoire.
He played in all the six games by the west Africans and scored a goal against DR Congo in a 3-1 win in the semi-finals.
Before travelling to Equatorial Guinea for the AFCON duty, Toure began the year 2015 on a scoring note, as he was on target in City’s 3-2 home win over Sunderland on New Year’s day.
He also played an FA Cup game on January 4, against Sheffield Wednesday which his team won 2-1.
Toure returned to Manchester after his AFCON achievement and was part of the team eliminated by his former club Barcelona in the Round of 16 stage of the UEFA Champions League which the English side lost 1-0.
The four-time African best player played a total of 29 EPL games in 2015 for City scoring nine goals.
Senegalese forward Sadio Mane had a good 2015 especially in the second half of the year under review (August to December).
The Teranga Lion started the year on a promising note, scoring one of Southampton’s goals in their 2-0 win against Arsenal on New Year’s day.
Next up for Mane was the Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea where he played two games; against South Africa on January 23 in a 1-1 draw and the 2-0 defeat against Algeria four days later.
He played a total of 36 Premier League matches for the Saints in 2015 and scored 10 times in all competitions. He was booked six times in 2015 (five yellows, one red).
The Algeria midfield sensation was recently voted the Best African Player in the La Liga by the BBVA (Spanish Football Federation).
The skilful star played in all Algeria’s four games at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations. He played a total of 28 La Liga matches in 2015 for Valencia and scored six goals in all competitions. Feghouli was in action in the UEFA Champions League where he played five matches. He was yellow-carded five times this year.
NOTE: Valencia have a game on Thursday night, December 31, against Villarreal (Feghouli may however not play).
Out of the blues came one of the stars who made Africa proud in 2015. Algeria’s Riyad Mahrez had a great year especially in the 2015/16 season.
The Leicester City midfielder played 33 Premier League games in 2015 for the Foxes and has been instrumental in them finishing the year second in the Barclays English Premier League table (for the first part of the 2015/16 season) just behind Arsenal on goal difference.
The midfielder played in all four of Algeria’s games at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea where they were eliminated at the quarter-finals stage,losing 3-1 to eventual winners, Cote d’ Ivoire. He was on target in the team’s 2-0 win against Senegal in their last group game at the AFCON on January 27.
Mahrez has played in two 2018 World Cup qualifiers for the Desert Foxes. He was in action against Tanzania in their two-legged affair which saw the north Africans drawing the first leg 2-2 before a 7-0 thrashing of their hapless east African rivals to book a place in the final round of qualifiers in Africa ahead of the World Cup in Russia. Mahrez scored one of the goals in the rout.
Overall Mahrez scored 15 Premier league goals for his ambitious team in the year 2015; 13 of them in the current season. He was also on target in the Capital One Cup this season playing two games.
Black Stars of Ghana captain Andre Ayew is one of the nominees for the 2015 Glo/CAF African Footballer of the Year award which holds in Abuja, Nigeria on January 7, 2016.
Ayew who moved from Olympique Marseille to Swansea in the summer of 2015 slots into one of the midfield roles.
Ayew played a key role for Ghana as they reached the final of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea before losing to Cote d’ Ivoire in the final via penalty shootouts after regulation time.
One of the sons of Ghana football legend, Abedi ‘Pele’ Ayew, who struts his talents in the Barclays English Premier League, the other being Aston Villa’s Jordan Ayew, Andre scored three goals at the AFCON and was booked (yellow) twice in the tournament.
After the AFCON, Ayew returned to former team, Marseille and scored in his first Ligue 1 game in 2015 on February 13th, against Reims in a 2-2 at the Stade Valedrome. In total, he played 13 games in the Ligue 1 for Marseille before the end of last season that came to an end in May 2015. He was yellow-carded four times and sent off once.
The skilful Black Stars skipper has so far played 18 Premier League game for Welsh side, Swansea, in the EPL and notched six goals. He has been booked three times (yellow cards) so far.
Gabonese international Pierre-Emerick Aubamayang is arguably the hottest African star in European leagues on current form.
The Borrusia Dortmund star could not help his country reach the important stages of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea as Gabon were eliminated in the group stage after two defeats and a win.
Aubamayang however played 16 Bundesliga games for Dortmund after his AFCON exertions, betweeen February to May 2015, and scored 11 league goals, three more strikes coming in the German Cup.
He played in the Round of 16 clashes against Juventus, with the Italian giants winning 5-1 on aggregate.
Aubamayang has struck 18 league goals so far in the current season in 17 Bundesliga matches. He has scored 24 goals in all competitions in the 2015/2016 season for his German club.
Super Eagles of Nigeria striker Odion Ighalo has been one of the standout African stars of 2015.
Ighalo’s 16 goals between January to May 2015 helped in no small way to ensure that the Clarets gained promotion to the English Premier League (he scored 20 goals in 35 appearances in the Championship in the season overall).
Ighalo has scored 14 Barclays Premier League goals for his club in the 2015/2016 season in 19 league appearances to effectively become the top scorer in all tiers of English football with his last season goal-scoring performance also in perspective .
On the international front, Ighalo has become a regular in the Super Eagles as he has been part of the team’s 2017 Africa Cup of Nations and 2018 World Cup qualifiers, as well as friendly matches against DR Congo, Cameroon and Niger.
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