Standouts of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations

The Africa Cup of Nations came to a close on Sunday when Ivory Coast defeated Ghana 9­-8 in a penalty kick shootout. There was some great football played throughout Equatorial Guinea during the three week tournament. Many players had memorable performances for their countries, and in turn, will return to their clubs in flying form. This article will cover who performed exceptionally well during the tournament.

Christian Atsu, Ghana

Atsu was phenomenal in his play out wide for the tournament’s runners-­up. He scored two goals along with recording one assist and was subsequently named as the Player of the Tournament. His goal in the match against Guinea was also named as Goal of the Tournament. When he returns to Everton, he should make a real case to make his way into the squad.

Andre Ayew, Ghana

The Marseille playmaker had yet another fantastic showing in an international tournament. In last summer’s World Cup, Ayew scored twice. He added three in this tournament, and he also grabbed two assists. He was very instrumental in Ghana’s squad because without him, they do not even make the final. His link up play with Asamoah Gyan and Wakaso Mubarak was key to Ghana’s attack.

Yannick Bolasie, DR Congo

Despite having seemingly poor stats (one goal, one assist), Bolasie was one of the best players in the tournament. He was DR Congo’s most dangerous attacking player and caused trouble for everyone he played against. It got to the point that teams had to scheme their defenses around containing him. The Congolese team won third place at this year’s tournament, largely due to his efforts. It was a great achievement for a country that hasn’t had a lot of recent footballing success.

Boubacar Barry, Cote D’Ivoire

Barry, or “Copa” as he is more commonly known, played in only the final. The 35-year-old started in relief of the usual starter, the injured Sylvain Gbohouo. Copa promptly played a fantastic final match. In the shootout, he denied opposing shot­stopper Brimah Razak, and scored the subsequent penalty to win the tournament for his country.

Ahmed Akaichi, Tunisia

The Esperace de Tunis striker had a coming out party during the tournament, scoring three goals. His third goal came during the quarterfinal against the hosts, and it seemed to be enough to send Tunisia to the semifinals. But controversial refereeing coupled with a controversial penalty decision ended his tournament early.

Wilfried Bony, Cote D’Ivoire

The new Manchester City striker finished the tournament with two goals and three assists. He played the forward position with ease for the Ivorians. His two goals came in the quarterfinal against Algeria, with the second one being the eventual match winner. He also racked up two assists in the semifinal against DR Congo. It will be interesting to see how Bony carries over his form to Manchester.