The group stages at the 4th African Nations Championship (CHAN) were successfully concluded on Wednesday evening.

Twenty four (24) group stage matches were played with the two last Group D fixtures seeing Uganda and Zimbabwe play to a one all draw at Umuganda Stadium in Rubavu as Zambia and Mali remained goalless at the final whistle.

After a close scrutiny of all the teams in the tournament, I came up with the exceling players by the close of business of the group stages.

The playing formation is 4-3-3 diamond (four defenders, two blocking midfielders, one attacking midfielder with three out and out forwards).

GOALKEEPER- Jacob Banda (Zambia):

The Zesco United shot stopper only relinquished the skipper’s arm band when veteran Christopher Katongo was recalled.

He not only kept three clean sheets in the matches played in group D, but also made darling saves when called upon and provided that crucial command with authority from the backline.

Mali’s Djigui Diarra was the other goalie not to concede in the group stages.

RIGHT BACK – Georges Ambourouet (Gabon):

Ambourouet has all the attributes of a contemporary right back. His play is well balanced defensively and in offence.

The F.C Akanda defender has the positional sense, strong in the air and can man mark whenever it necessitates.

LEFT BACK: Geraldo Quiami Miguel (Angola):

Arguably the most talented defender at the CHAN tournament, Miguel does not deserve to play in a domestic league in Angola.

The 25 year old Benfica De Luanda defender has a swift foot that plays the short crispy passes as well as those long diagonal balls once in a while.

He was a real darling to watch especially when adding to the numbers upfront.

Equally strong defensively as well.

CENTRAL DEFENDER – Marc Mahan Goua (Cote D’Voire):

Solid and compact as the Rwandese 1000 hills that define the CHAN 2016 host nation, the Asec Mimosas defender was up to the task with timely tackles, great heading and building play from the back.

A decent central defender.

CENTRAL DEFENDER – Emery Bayisenge (Rwanda):

Well-built and composed, Bayisenge is the reason Rwanda’s booked an early berth to the quarter finals.

He excelled at thwarting the opposition with timely ball inceptions.

The APR defender, a graduate of Rwanda’s youth system possesses a calm head, a prerequisite for many defenders to excel above the ordinary.


Rwanda’s skipper Jaques Tuyisenge (left) closely marked by Gabon’s Georges Ambourouet

CENTRAL MID-FIELDER – Nelson Munganga (DR Congo):

Every time I watched Munganga in action, I witnessed a typical Yaya Toure in the making.

The lanky and well-built AS Vita Football Club player is also too strong both on the ground and in air.

He makes the anchorman’s role look so ordinary yet complex.

He crowned his exceptional overall display with a rare strike from deep lying midfielders (more over inside the six yard area) against Angola in DR Congo’s 4-2 victory over Angola at Huye Stadium.

CENTRAL MIDFIELDER – Timothy Dennis Awany (Uganda):

To be sincere, the youthful Kampala City Capital Authority (KCCA) F.C player might be surprised by his own display.

Often used as a defender at his club, Awany played in the ‘hole’ and exceled with timely tackles, ball interceptions and accurate passing.

ATTACKING MIDFIELDER – Abdessamad El Mobaraky (Morocco):

El Mobaraky is blessed with an awesome first touch on the ball, too fast, a great dribbler and passer alike.

He engineered most of team Morocco’s attacks and his partnership with Abdessalam Benjelloun was blended on earth, but kitted on planet mars.

ATTACKER – Ahmed Akaichi (Tunisia):

Seldom will you encounter a gifted left footed forward who perfectly controls the ball, dribbles, shoots, heads and passes in equal measure.

With Akaichi on any coach’s team, best rest assured of a goal.

ATTACKER – Elvis Chisom Chikatara (Nigeria):

He looks a laid back forward but lethal in front of goal. Four goals from two substitute appearances and one full game is no mean feat.

The Abia Warriors forward has been one of the true revelations of the tournaments, alongside Uganda’s Timothy Dennis Awany.

ATTACKER – Christopher Katongo (Zambia)

The name of 2012 AFCON winning captain, Katongo sneaks onto my best XI per the group stages for a couple of reasons.

At 34 years, Katongo runs faster than most teenagers twice younger.

He is a team leader and his overall play involves teammates alike.

Given his diminutive stature, his out jumps defenders at 6 feet plus.

The footballing solider is just a menace to the opposition.

Head Coach: Jonathan McKinstry (Rwanda)

Honorable Mentions:

Ramj Jeridi (Tunisia) – G.K, Usman Muhammed (Nigeria) – Defender,  Abdessalam Benjelloun (Morocco) – Forward, Emane Yazid Atouba (Cameroon) – Forward, Heritier Luvumbu (DR Congo) – Midfielder, Bruno Fernando (Angola) – Left Attack, Atcho Hemann Junior Djobo (Ivory Coast) – Forward, Moussa Sissoko (Mali) – Forward, Edmore Chirambardare (Zimbabwe) – Left Attack, Jonathan Bolingi Mpangi (DR Congo) – Forward, Ernest Sugira (Rwanda)

David Isabirye is a senior staff writer for Kawowo Sports where he covers most of the major events.

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