Didier Drogba, Dwight Yorke and Ji-Sung Park are among the star international footballers confirmed for the special Football For Fires match in Sydney in May.
The doom and gloom surrounding football at the moment is almost too much to take for a self-confessed huge fan of modern football and everything that is the Hyundai A-League, warts and all. We need more positivity around the round-ball game.
Unfortunately this week, we’ve seen racism rear its ugly head yet again on the international stage with the Bulgaria vs England game stopped on several occasions due to racist comments and actions from the crowd, targeting England stars. This has no place in the game.
There’s no better time to celebrate the ever-growing number of African-Australian players in the A-League who are either first-generation Australians or whose parents have claimed Australia as their own, usually after fleeing a war-torn country or one where there is political upheaval.
While few and far between in the early years of the competition, there has been a steady growth of these outstandingly talented individuals over the course of the A-League, and the trickle will only become a flood as opportunities expand and they are plucked from the National Premier Leagues and A-League academies.
Looking at the opening round of the A-League and the broader squads on offer, players like Adama Traore, Bruce Kamau, Elvis Kamsoba and the newly anointed King of Adelaide Al-Hassan Toure all bring their own piece of excitement to our competition and hopefully will continue to do so for years ahead.
From trail-blazers like Bruce Djite to record-breakers like Teeboy Kamara and Alusine Fofanah plus modern-day Socceroos Awer Mabil and Thomas Deng, these are the sorts of players who make you stand up and pay attention. They’re heroes among fans and role models for the generations to come.
With this in mind, I’ve put together an all time A-League African-Australian XI. It’s a 4-3-3 formation, and to qualify you have to have made at least 50 A-League appearances. There is one ring-in who is a New Zealander born to Ghanain parents, but we love a ring in – especially when they’re a Kiwi!
African-Australian A-League all stars
Tando Velaphi (Zimbabwe/Australia)
Adama Traore (Cote d’Ivoire/Australia)
Thomas Deng (South Sudan/Australia)
Nikolai Topor-Stanley (Mauritius/Australia)
Jason Geria (Uganda/Australia)
Bruce Kamau (Kenya/Australia)
Kearyn Baccus (South Africa/Australia)
Kwabena Appiah-Kubi (Ghana/New Zealand)
Golgol Mebrahtu (Eritrea/Australia)
Bruce Djite (Togo/Australia)
Bernie Ibini-Isei (Nigeria/Australia)
There are, of course, players who miss out due to the 50-appearance rule who would obviously make the grade, including Mabil, Keanu Baccus and Kwame Yeboah.
The neat thing I discovered by leaving out Rashid Mahazi and adding Kwabena Appiah-Kubi was it meant that there are 11 different African nationalities included in the line-up, which is quite incredible.
When you look at some of the best young talent both in the A-League and coming through the NPL ranks, you can’t help but notice that these Australians with African heritage certainly add tremendous amounts of excitement in our game now, and will do so in the future.
Have I missed anyone? Who would you rate as the best ever?