The Shining Lights Of the Dark Continent: An All African XI

Amin MalikContributor IOctober 28, 2008

Africa is a continent of millions of football junkies and indeed some of the finest footballers that the world has to offer hail from the Cradle Of Civilization. In my debut article I'd like to open a discussion on an African All XI:

Goalkeeper: Essam El-Hadary (Egypt/FC Sion): The Pharoahs number one cuts an imposing figure for the The Pharoahs and has been instrumental in the Egyptian national team taking home the African Cup of Nations title back to back. At club level he was very successful with Al-Ahly of Egypt winning 21 titles before becoming only the second player in history to invoke the Webster's Clause and moving to FC Sion of Switzerland.

Centerback: Kolo Toure (Cote d'Ivoire/Arsenal): Originally an attacking midfielder, Arsene Wenger converted him into a centreback and Kolo Habib Toure has never looked back since, even scoring the goal that sent Arsenal into its first ever Champions League final in 2006. He is currently the longest serving Gunner and vice captain of both Arsenal and Les Elephants.

Centerback: John Mensah (Ghana/Lyon): One of the best defenders in Ligue 1 and a rock at the heart of Ghana's backline, John Mensah is one of the most physically talented defenders in the world. After a journeyman career in Italy, Mensah fulfilled his potential at Rennes before moving onto Champions League Football with Lyon.

Right Back: Emmanuel Eboue (Cote d'Ivoire/Arsenal): This Ivorian international can be found raiding Arsenal's right side as either a solid full back or a marauding right midfielder, both to devastating effect. There have been questions raised about Eboue's lack of end product but there can be no doubts as to his dynamism and energy.

Left Back: Taye Taiwo (Nigeria/Marseille): Known as the "Nigerian Roberto Carlos", this Lagos Native possesses pace in abundance and a rocket of a left foot that has been clocked in at over 130 km/h (82 mph). Taiwo was voted the 2006 Young African Player of the Year and has attracted the attention of various British clubs.

Defensive Midfielder: Seydou Keita (Mali/Barcelona): Keita moved to Barcelona last summer and quickly displaced another impressive African midfielder in Yaya Toure and with his skills it isnt' difficult to see why. Keita provides a blend of technical skill with hard tackling football in the middle of the park which has led to Barcelona placing a $115 buyout clause in his contract.

Center Midfield: Michael Essien (Ghana/Chelsea): The most expensive African footballer of all time when he cost Chelsea $43 million from Lyon in 2005, Essien has justified that hefty fee by blossoming into one of the world's best midfielders. He has been referred to as "the very model of a modern midfield general".

Right Midfield: Mohamed Aboutrika (Egypt/Al-Ahly): More than likely the best player currently plying his trade on the African continent, Aboutrika has been dubbed the "Egyptian Zinedine Zidane". His skills were on display at the 2006 FIFA World Club Championship where he led his Al-Ahly side to the bronze medal while also grabbing top scorer.

Left Midfield: Salomon Kalou (Cote d'Ivoire/Chelsea): One of the lesser names at Chelsea, Kalou is nevertheless an impressive player, whether it be cutting infield from the left or as an out and out striker. The starstruck young man brought a camera to his first Chelsea training session but is quickly establishing himself as a target for the paparazzi with some quality performances for the Blues.

Striker: Samuel Eto'o (Cameroon/Barcelona): This Indomitable Lion has been breaking records ever since he first debuted in 1997. He was the youngest player at the 1998 World Cup at 17 and 3 months, is the leading all-time goalscorer in the history of the African Cup of Nations and has made the most appearances in La Liga of any African.

Striker: Didier Drogba (Cote d'Ivoire/Chelsea):  At his best Drogba is a nightmare for opposing backlines, terrorizing them with his physical strength and finishing ability. In 2006 he led Les Elephants of Cote d'Ivoire to their first World Cup ever, scoring their first ever goal in the competition along the way.

So there you have it, that is my choice for the All-African XI. I'd love to hear your thoughts or your own XI so please comment below