Africa’s biggest names in sport ensured 2015 wasn’t a dull one. From one kick to the other, one hard hit to the softest of punches, sport in the continent duly got served under the year in review.
With so much fanfare to be expected, it never fell short of the needed drama, spectacle and grace. So many laurels were also won.
2015 was one grand party that kicked off with the Golden Generation of the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire winning gold at the African Cup of Nations. It was a sweet victory; one recorded for the first time in 23 years.
After an extended period without winning the African Cup of Nations, the Elephants of la Cote d’Ivoire won their first piece of silverware since 1992 in near perfect fashion after they beat rivals Ghana 9–8 in a dramatic penalty shoot-out to win the coveted trophy.
Nigeria’s Flying Eagles won their seventh African Youth Championship in March. The West African country beat counterparts and hosts Senegal 1-0 in the final of the 2015 CAF U-20 African Youth Championship in Dakar, winning it for the 7th time. The game was a replay of the first game of the tournament when Nigeria won 3-1 against the hosts.
Ghana emerged the third best team at the tournament after they beat Mali 3-1 in the third/fourth play-off to claim the Bronze medal.
In June, Adama Traore ensured Mali placed third at the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
After an impressive outing with scoring two goals in the group stages and scoring two more in finals of the 2015 U-20 World Cup, one name emerged on the lips of numerous Africa football fans, Adama Traore.
The Malian international carried his team on his back and ensured the west African side defied all odds to win the third best spot at the tournament.
Egypt returned to winning ways in September as they topped at the All African Games held in Congo.
The Egyptians were the talk of the town at the 2015 edition of the All African games as they defied all odds to top the medal table ahead of regulars South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya. They amassed a total 217 medals comprising of 85 gold, 64 silver and 68 bronze medals.
September saw Gabonese superstar Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang making all the headlines in the German Bundesliga.
Aubameyang, who has been in ruthless form this year, set a new record when he scored twice in Dortmund’s 2-2 draw with Darmstadt to emerge the first player in the league’s history to score in all of the first seven games of the season with 24 goals in 23 games. The Gabon international is the leading scorer in the Bundesliga.
Africa's finestDecember 14, 2015
November saw the birth of a new African goal scoring machine in Victor Osimhen.
Osimhen set a new U-17 World Cup goal-scoring record at the 2015 edition of the FIFA U-17 World Cup when he scored 10 goals to win the golden ball and help Nigeria win the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup. The teenager has been compared to many footballers on the African continent including Didier Drogba and is regarded as a talent for the future.
TP Mazembe also won their fifth Champions League title in November. DR Congo giants, TP Mazembe, on their November 8 feat, saw them secure a 2-0 victory over Algeria’s USM Alger in the second leg of the Champions League final.
The goals came from the Tanzanian Mbwana Samatta and Ivory Coast’s Roger Assale in front of their home fans in Lubumbashi. It was Samatta’s seventh goal of the campaign leaving him as the joint leading scorer of this year’s African Champions League, alongside Bakry ‘Al Medina’ Babiker of Sudan’s Al Merrikh.
Etoile Du Sahel also won their second Confederations Cup this year.
And just when Africa thought she had seen enough, her sons come out to play.
Riyad Mahrez of Premiership side Leicester City is still in the business of entertaining football fans.
On Christmas day 2014, Leicester City were bottom of the Premier League, 12 months on, and they are TOP. Their impressive run has undoubtedly been fuelled by Algerian Mahrez. The 24 year old has been in top shape this year with his 13 goals in the Barclays premier League for the foxes.
Odion Ighalo became the first Watford player to score 30 league goals in a calendar year since 1960. He has made 37 league appearances (18 in Championship, 19 in Premier League)
Other giant successes recorded in the year include Zimbabwe and South Africa qualifying for the Olympic Games in Rio next year for Men’s Football while old customer Nigeria and Algeria and the female side of South Africa also for the Women’s Division.
Ghana and Senegal won gold in the Men and Women’s division respectively at the All Africa Games while Uganda won its 14th COSAFA Cup in December.
As the World Athletics Championships wrapped up in Beijing in September, it was a seven-star performance for Kenya as the country claimed its maiden overall title at the World Athletics Championships, with seven gold medals, six silver and three bronze medals.
With more exciting developments already wrapping up the year, 2016 looks even more promising. If Africa’s biggest ladies and gentlemen come out in full force this year, they are sure to build a battalion next year.