2012 Africa Cup of Nations: The All-African Team

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2012 Africa Cup of Nations: The All-African Team

As long football has been played on an international level, the sport has been dominated by South America and Europe. So much so that only two teams have ever finished in the top four outside of those continents (the US finished 3rd in 1930 and South Korea finished 4th in 2002). The reasons behind these trends are deeply rooted in the culture, economics, and politics of regions and are much too vast to begin to parse out here.

But as of late there have been more newcomers to the game that are making their presence felt at every international tournament. Japan, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia have been constant threats out of Asia; Australia has improved the game of Oceania; and the rivalry between the US and Mexico has become one of the most compelling ones in the game.

However, no region has seen the level of talent rise so dramatically in the past three decades as Africa.

The world's second-largest continent has had the sport since European settlers brought it to them. It became a favorite of the indigenous people. In the contemporary setting of civil war, mass poverty, and widespread disease, the game has become much more than a means of entertainment. It is a way to a better life for individuals and their families.

Again the reasons for this rise are complex, but nonetheless there are few top teams in Europe that do not have an African player dawning their colors. Africa has become one of the most highly-scouted regions by the best of clubs around the world.

With the African Cup of Nations underway, I figure it was time to look back at the great footballers who have graced our presence already.

This list is a look back at the history of African football, by putting together an all African-Team. The best eleven players from the continent to ever lace up a pair of cleats. The criteria is based on not only what you did they did for their country, but how they played for their club as well.

I am sure there will be disputes, which I always encourage, so please let me know your two cents as there is a good argument for many more who did not make the list.

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