Uefa’s African sweet sixteen
Sixteen African professionals are still in the race for this year’s Uefa Champions League title, with Mali’s Seydou Keita standing as reigning champion in the name of Barcelona.
After the draw for the quarterfinals which pitted APOEL against Real Madrid, AC Milan v Barcelona, Olympique Marseille-Bayern Munich and Benfica-Chelsea, the presence of a number of African players in the forthcoming hostilities became evident, except in the game opposing the Spanish La Liga leaders Real Madrid to surprise package APOEL FC of Cyprus.
France 2010 champions Marseille carry the highest number of African expatriates in the quarterfinal stage, with seven players set to power the Les Phoceens to the highest possible length.
The only North African representative is Algeria international defender Djamel Mesbah, who plays for Serie A giants AC Milan, which will likely field their other three African players Kevin Prince Boateng, Sulley Muntari and Rodney Strasser.
Like AC Milan, English Premier League side Chelsea boast of four Africans, led by the team’s talisman Didier Drogba, who helped the Blues to overturn their deficit against Napoli in the round of 16 return leg to scramble a ticket to the quarterfinals.
The African players in the Uefa Champions League quarterfinals:
Olympique Marseille-Bayern Munich
(Olympique Marseille, France): Nicolas Nkoulou (Cameroun, defender), Souleymane Diawara (Senegal, defender), Djimi Traoré (Mali, defender), Charles Kaboré (Burkina Faso, midfielder), Stéphane Mbia (Cameroun, midfielder), André Ayew (Ghana, midfielder), Jordan Ayew (Ghana, striker).
(Chelsea, England): Michael Essien (Ghana, midfielder), John Obi Mikel (Nigeria, midfielder), Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast, striker), Salomon Kalou (Ivory Coast, striker).
(AC Milan, Italy): Djamel Mesbah (Algeria, defender), Kevin Prince Boateng (Ghana, midfielder), Sulley Muntari (Ghana, midfielder), Rodney Strasser (Sierra Leone, midfielder). (Barcelona, Spain): Seydou Keita (Mali, midfielder)