AFCON 2023: Nigeria and South Africa Combined Best XI of All Time

AFCON 2023: Nigeria and South Africa Combined Best XI of All Time journalist Ridwan Adeola Yusuf has over 9 years of experience covering sports and football.

Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire - South Africa's win against Cape Verde in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2023 quarter-final match on Saturday, January 3, means the Bafana Bafana will take on the Super Eagles of Nigeria in the last four. reports that Nigeria and South Africa are two prominent footballing nations in Africa, and have produced some notable sports personalities.

AFCON/AFCON 2023/Nigeria match
South Africa's Bafana Bafana and Nigeria’s Super Eagles are among the most famous African teams. Photo credits: Gallo Images, Olivier Morin
Source: Getty Images

Both teams of retired footballers had immense quality all over the pitch. Some top players, however, did not make the cut in a combined XI.

Ahead of the crunch contest on Wednesday evening, February 7, tasked itself with naming some of the legends in the two countries.

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A 3-2-3-2 formation was adopted.

1) Vincent Enyeama (Goalkeeper)

Former Super Eagles goalkeeper, Vincent Enyeama, is Nigeria’s most successful shotstopper after playing in five AFCON competitions – in 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2013 – and was part of the Nigerian squads at the 2002, 2010 and 2014 world cup tournaments.

The 41-year-old ex-Super Eagles captain played 101 times for the Eagles, winning the 2013 AFCON in South Africa.

2) Uche Okechukwu (Centre back)

Okechukwu, fondly called “The Gentle Giant”, represented Nigeria in two world cups and as many AFCONs, winning the latter tournament once (in 1994).

Okechukwu is a Fenerbahçe legend.

3) Taribo West (Right back)

West is a pastor who played professionally as a defender. He is best remembered for his various unusual and colourful hairstyles.

After winning several major trophies with Auxerre in French football, West went on to play for both Milanese clubs, Inter Milan and AC Milan. He also appeared in the top-level leagues of England and Germany.

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At international level, West won 42 caps for the Super Eagles between 1994 and 2005, taking part in two world cups and two African Championships.

4) Mark Fish (Left back)

Fish was one of many great defenders who got to represent Bafana Bafana.

It was at the country's clubside, Jomo Cosmos, that he was converted into a left-back and went on to become one of the best South African defenders.

Internationally, Fish is best remembered as being a crucial part of South Africa's victorious national soccer squad when they won the 1996 AFCON. He scored one of the goals in the quarter-final against Algeria. He was named to the Team of the Tournament in both the 1996 and 1998 AFCON. In total, Fish won 62 caps for the South African national team.

5) Lucas Radebe (Defensive Midfield)

'The Chief', Radebe, was an inspirational leader for the national side and his club, Leeds United of England.

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Most notably, Late Nelson Mandela said of Radebe: "This is my hero." The respected former African leader gave this description of Radebe ahead of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Radebe originally started his career with the Kaizer Chiefs as a goalkeeper, and then switched positions to midfield and then finally to central defence.

6) John Obi Mikel (Defensive midfielder)

Mikel rose to prominence by starring in Nigeria’s second-place finish at the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship. He finished as the tournament’s second-best player, behind Lionel Messi.

Mikel later embarked on a trophy-laden career at Chelsea where he won nine major honours in England, including two English Premier League (EPL) titles and the UEFA Champions League (UCL).

The midfielder played a key role in the Super Eagles’ 2013 AFCON triumph and captained the national team to a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympic Games before he retired from football.

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7) Jay-Jay Okocha (Attacking midfielder)

Blessed with exceptional tricks, alongside dead-ball accuracy and an underrated turn of pace, Okocha terrorised defences.

He is regarded as one of the greatest football players from Africa.

8) Steven Pienaar (Winger)

Pienaar is a South African former professional footballer and current assistant coach of the U18 team of the Ajax Youth Academy.

He was a captain of the South African national team. He is primarily a winger but also played as an attacking midfielder.

Pienaar played for Ajax Amsterdam, Borussia Dortmund, Everton, Tottenham Hotspur, Sunderland and Bidvest Wits.

9) Emmanuel Amunike (Winger)

The former Zamalek, Sporting CP, Barcelona and Albacete forward had 27 caps for the Eagles, with nine goals to his credit.

Amunike was at the 1994 FIFA world cup in the United States where he scored against Bulgaria and Italy. He also featured at the 1994 AFCON in Tunisia and helped the Super Eagles win the tournament, which saw him being voted African Footballer of that Year.

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10) Benni McCarthy (Striker)

McCarthy is currently the strikers' coach of Manchester United.

McCarthy achieved more than any of his compatriots in terms of trophies won in Europe, including the glamorous UCL, and for many is the greatest forward the country has ever produced.

11) Rashidi Yekini (Striker)

Late Yekini is the all-time top goalscorer for Nigeria.

Yekini scored 37 goals as a Nigerian international footballer and represented the nation in seven major tournaments, including two world cups where he scored the country's first-ever goal in the competition.

He was also named the African Footballer of the Year in 1993.

What to read about AFCON:

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AFCON: Super Eagles goalkeeper, Nwabali, under fire

Meanwhile, Super Eagles goalkeeper and one of the shining lights of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2023, Stanley Nwabali, came under criticism for posting a picture without its watermark.

Some X users reprimanded Nwabali for putting up a picture of him, whose original copy had been tampered with.


Ridwan Adeola avatar

Ridwan Adeola (Current Affairs Editor) Ridwan Adeola Yusuf is a Current Affairs Editor at and a certified journalist with over 9 years of experience. He edited Politics Nigeria's articles, was the Acting Editor of AllNews Nigeria and Fact-Checking Researcher (Africa Check). He received his HND in Mass Communication from The Polytechnic Ibadan. He received a Certificate of Achievement (Journalism Clinic’s Fix The Leak masterclass, 2021) and also completed Google News Initiative's Advance digital reporting curriculum. Contact him at

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