Soccer News of Saturday, 7 February 2015
As the 2015 Africa Nations Cup heads towards Sunday’s climax, we look at the potential winners of the most valuable player (MVP) award.
In no particular order, here are the top five prospects for the MVP award according to African Football.
Andre Ayew (Ghana)
Despite the obvious pressures that come with being the son of Abedi Pele Ayew, Andre is living up to the family name as captain of the Black Stars.
The 25-year-old has kept Ghana’s flame burning during their roller coaster ride at the 2015 Africa Cup, following on from his powerful showing at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil last year.
The Marseille star scored Ghana’s lone goal during The Black Stars’ lowest point in their 2-1 loss to Senegal in a Group C opener on January 19.
At the high point, Ayew scored his third goal in the Black Stars’ 3-0 semifinal win over Equatorial Guinea that ended in stormy and controversial circumstances.
Serge Aurier (Cote d’Ivoire)
The robust right wing-back has been Cote d’Ivoire’s standout performer at the 2015 Africa Nations Cup eclipsing his highly decorated Captain Yaya Toure and others who have made strong contributions too.
Opponents have throughout this tournament found Aurier’s speed and power, including his crosses, just too hot to handle. He continues to show why he was such a big focus of recent transfer windows and Aurier will be expected to play another key role in Sunday’s Cup final showdown against Ghana.
Yannick Bolasie (DR Congo)
The powerful Crystal Palace attacking midfielder has played a major role in helping his DR Congo side to the third and fourth playoff game of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations in what is the two-time champions’ best tournament run since 1998.
Bolasie’s pace, power and dribbling skills have also been a constant headache for opposing defences. He has made two assists and scored a goal so far in the 2015 finals in Equatorial Guinea.
Javier Balboa (Equatorial Guinea)
Balboa has stepped out of the shadows in 2015 after a modest debut at the 2012 tournament where the major highlight saw him score Equatorial Guinea’s debut Africa Nations Cup goal three years ago. Unfortunately for Balboa, his own performances at the tournament are intertwined with Equatorial Guinea’s bad boy imagine at the tournament.
Firstly, Balboa won and converted a controversial penalty against Gabon in the group stage. In the quarterfinals, he converted another controversial penalty in a 2-1 win over Tunisia. However, Balboa put some gloss over that tainted match with a contender for 2015 Africa Nations Cup goal of the tournament with a sublime free kick to earn Equatorial Guinea’s passage to the semifinals.
Thievy Bifouma (Congo-Brazzaville)
Bifouma’s charisma and determination embodied Congo-Brazzaville’s never-say-die attitude in Equatorial Guinea, which saw them top Group A with seven points and surprise the world under wily coach Claude Le Roy.
The 22-year-old star matched his leader-like displays with three goals behind his name, but Congo’s quarterfinal exit left fans with probably just a teaser of what could have been for Bifouma had the Red Devils gone beyond the last eight.