The inaugural edition of the West African Football Union (WAFU) U-20 has come and gone with Liberia showing promise in terms of the organization of hosting an international tournament, though this one was with just eight nations. The fans enjoyed the games with president George Manneh Weah.saying “the games are impressive, the tournament is good” and going a step further by motivating the young players from the sub-region saying, “you know I won the Balloon d’or. ” it was not magic, but hard-work “, you too can win it”.
Certainly the games were impressive and the stars of tomorrow have being unveiled. Champions Gambia, runners up Liberia Third Placed Mali, Fourth placed Ivory Coast, Senegal, Guinea Bissau Sierra Leone and Guinea all made the tournament a spectacle. But, how did the players fare as per the team or Best XI oc the tournament continues to etch our retinas in a 4-3-1-2 formation.
The lanky dread locked shots-stopper was indeed the best man between the sticks for the Gambia. His brave saves especially in matches against Senegal, Guinea, Mali and the Ivory Coast was one reason Gambia had the best defense. Calm, good distribution and good reading of the game makes him a star of the future. His two clean sheets, despite three goals conceded, made the Brikima United man an asset for the champions.
Siaka Bagayogo (7.5/10)
The Djoliba full back scampered down the wings and provided teasing crosses in the opposition box. His vast pace and hardworking, attitude, made him one of the best for Mali
Salif Conteh 7.8/10
Though Sierra Leone did not make it out of the group stage, the FC Kallon trainee was effective in making rapid over lapping runs, and descent crosses and was solid defensively.
Habibou Manou (7.9/10)
The Gamtei defender holds no prisoner as he was uncompromising and showed just why the Gambia had the best defense. He was difficult to get by, a strong tackler and made life difficult for opposing strikers.
Wilfried Sogo (7.7/10)
Athletically built, imposing figure, strong aerially and impressive on the floor, the Gagnoi rearguard was uncompromising and was able to read the game quite well for the Ivory Coast.
Allen Njei (9.1/10)
As the tournament progressed especially after the first match, the LISCR hardworkwer raised his game and carried the Liberian team. Steel left foot, precision passing, good work ethic, never shy of moving forward despite his holding role position as he was never short of confidence. Voted Most Valuable Player, the lanky but gritty midfielder like others have announced himself to Africa and the rest of the world.
Abdoulaye Aboubacar, Jr.( 8/10)
The Sowa crafty left foot proved an amazing talent as his pace, sublime dribbling and troubling crosses made him a handful. Despite his diminutive shape, he was never afraid of taking on opponents.
Abdjue Sarr ( 8.8/10)
This cultured left foot from Brikima United carried the Gambian team to the trophy. He was lively, incisive, hard working and was quite a joy to watch in the playmaker role, the hole behind the front line where his jaw dropping passes, superb ball artistry and short crisp passing showed why he is one of West Africa’s brightest stars for tomorrow.
Lasanna Diamane (8.2/10)
Though the German Club Borussia Mochenblach player is a forward, the preponderance of forwards, has led him to operating in this role which he is also accustomed to. Playing off the strikers, he can hold the ball in elegance, provide the decoy, strike for goal and provide the element of surprise.
Musa Kebbay ( 8.1/10)
The Bea Mountain hit man who ended with five goals to become the the second top scorer, showed he is a good customer in front goal. His movement was not all convincing though, but he was never shy of finishing.
Diakite Ibrahim Yalatif (8.6/10)
The ASEC Mimosa giant striker who ended as the tournament top scorer with six goals, made goalscoring his own. His positioning and awareness in the final third made him bang in the goals.