African Champions on European Grounds
After a long exceptional season that witnessed long stoppage in some countries, and even cancelling competitions in others because of COVID-19 pandemic, finally the 2019-20 season of European football was concluded, with some African players leaving their mark with their respective teams.
League & Cup: Red Bull Salzburg
Six African players won the domestic double with Red Bull Salzburg this season. Cameroonian defender Jerome Onguene, Ghanaian midfielder Majeed Ashimeru, Malian duet Sekou Koita and Mohamed Camara, and Zambian pair of Enock Mwepu and Patson Daka all played roles in seeing the Salzburg based side winning Austrian Bundesliga and The ÖFB-Cup.
League: Club Brugge
The Belgian First Division A season was cancelled due to COVID-19 outbreak, but it was decided that Club Brugge would be handed the title, having topped the charts with 70 points, 15 more than second placed Gent when the season was annulled. A total of 11 African players had the champions’ medals with Brugge, including Senegalese quartet of Amdou Sagna, Krepin Diatta, Mbaye Diagne and Youssouph Badji, Ivoirian duo Simon Deli and Odilon Kossounou, and Nigerian duet David Okereke and Emmanuel Dennis. The others are Sofyan Amrabat (Morocco), Percy Tau (South Africa) and Clinton Mata (Angola).
Royal Antwerp win Belgian Cup for the third time in their history; claiming their first trophy since 1992. Eight African players participated in the campaign, led by DR Congo prolific forward Dieumerci Mbokani. The others were his compatriot Luet Ava Dongo, Cameroon trio Didier Lamkel Ze, Frank Boya and Martin Hongla, Senegal duo Abdoulaye Seck and Amara Baby, and Nigerian Junior Pius.
The Reds ended a 30 years drought when they won their 19th English Premier League title this season. Under the guidance of Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool finished the season on top, securing the title with seven games to spare.
As usual in the past couple of seasons, Liverpool are thankful to the efforts of their top stars, including Egypt’s Mohamed Salah and Senegal’s Sadio Mane. Naby Keita (Guinea) and Joel Matip (Cameroon) complete the Africans in the Champions’ lineup.
Salah scored 19 goals, one more than Mane in the League. The African Liverpool quartet capped an amazing season that saw The Reds also winning UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup.
The Gunners extended their record in FA Cup winning their 14th title this season. Arsenal had two Africans in their winning squad, including Gabonese skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameuang and Ivoirian Nicolas Pepe.
Aubameyang was undoubtedly Arsenal’s hero, having scored a brace in the semifinal and another in the final, guiding Mikel Arteta’s side to their season saving title.
League & Cup: Paris Saint Germain
The French League (Ligue 1) was the first of the top European leagues to be annulled because of COVID-19 pandemic. The title was handed on points per game (PPG) rule to Paris Saint Germain (PSG) who were topping the charts when the league was stopped.
PSG completed the domestic double by adding French Cup later on in the season. Two African players claimed the double with PSG in the form of Senegal’s Idrissa Gueya and Cameroon’s Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting.
Olympiacos extended their record in Greek Super League, winning their 45th title this season. On their road to glory, 9 African players took part with the Red Whites, although some of them only appeared in the first half of the season.
Algerian duo Hillal Soudani and Yassine Benzia, Senegal’s duet Ousseynou Ba and Pape Abou Cisse, along with Mady Camara (Guinea), Youssef El Arabi (Morocco), Ahmed Hassan “Koka” (Egypt), Yassine Meriah (Tunisia) and Bruno Gaspar (Angola) all helped Olympiacos to the title.
The Italian south side had two African defenders taking part in their victorious campaign, in the form of Senegal’s Kalidou Koulibaly and Algeria’s Faouzi Ghoulam.
League & Cup: Porto
It was a remarkable season for FC Porto who claimed the domestic double securing Portuguese League and Cup titles. The Dragons had six African players playing their role in their victorious season, including Senegalese goalkeeper Mouhamed Mbaye, his compatriot Mamadou Loum, Mali’s Moussa Marega, Cameroon’s Vincent Aboubakar, Cape Verde’s Ze Luis and DR Congo’s defender Chancel Mbemba, who had a glorious season finale scoring a brace in the Cup final to see Porto completing the double.
Celtic won their 51st Scottish Premier League title, with 80 points from 30 games, 13 more than arch rivals Rangers.
Ivoirian forward Vakoun Issouf Bayo took place in The Celts campaign, scorig twice in 16 appearances, while his compatriot Ismaila Soro who joined in January did not feature in any game.
League: Young Boys
As Young Boys retained their Swiss Super League title, they had five African players taking place on the road to glory. Cameroonian forward Jean-Pierre Nsame was their top hit, scoring 32 goals in as many matches and finishing the season as league’s top scorer. The others are Nsame’s compatriot Nicolas Moumi Nfamaleu, Guinea’s Mohamed Camara, DR Congo’s Meschak Elia and Cote d’Ivoire’s Roger Assale who was loaned to Spanish side Leganes in January.
League: Istanbul Basaksehir
Istanbul Basaksehir celebrated their maiden Turkish League glory this season. Basaksehir had three African players to thank in their glorious campaign, in the form of Senegal’s Demba Ba, Nigeria’s Azubuike Okechukwu and Cape Verde’s Carlos Ponck.
Trabzonspor won their 9th Turkish Cup title, with the help of African players including Morocco’s Manuel da Costa, Senegal’s Badou Ndiaye, Ghana’s Caleb Ekuban and Nigeria’s Anthony Nwakaeme. Nigerian duet John Obi Mikel and Ogenyi Onazi took part in some games before leaving the club in mid-season.
Cup: Dynamo Kyiv
Giants Dynamo Kyiv claimed their 12th Ukrainian Cup title, with Ghana’s Mohamed Kadiri and Nigerian Benito making the squad during the season.