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Picking a Dream XI from Africa's World Cup qualifiers

Ahead of Friday's World Cup draw, KweséESPN reveal our Dream XI of African players set to compete in next summer's showpiece in Russia.

Munir: In truth, several of Africa's World Cup five aren't in particularly strong shape between the sticks, with Nigeria, notably, unable to point to one, clear excellent goalkeeping option.

Morocco, by contrast, have no concerns at the back, having gone through the entirety of their qualifying campaign without conceding.

While the whole of the team must take credit, goalkeeper Munir has done superbly well to bounce back from fan criticism earlier in his international career to keep goal during such a formidable run of clean sheets.

Ali Maaloul: The only Tunisian player in this team is Maaloul, who should demonstrate next summer why he ought to be considered as the continent's premier left-back.

While the progress of both Abdul Rahman Baba and Faouzi Ghoulam have been stymied by injuries, Maaloul has gone from strength to strength since signing for Al-Ahly, winning the Egyptian title and helping the Cairene giants to the CAF Champions League final.

Defensively, he's unflinching, while he can also weigh in with decisive goals and assists in the final third.

Kalidou Koulibaly continues to go from strength to strength under Maurizio Sarri at Napoli, and having refined many of his rougher edges since moving from Belgian football, Koulibaly is looking like a complete centre-back.

Rumours of a move to Chelsea or Manchester City in recent transfer windows haven't appeared out of place - such has been the defender's rise to prominence - while Koulibaly's role in Napoli's strong start to the season should only see his number of suitors increase.

Medhi Benatia: Last season, Benatia struggled to impose himself at Juventus on loan from Bayern Munich, and eyebrows were raised when the Old Lady made his signing permanent this summer.

However, the Morocco centre-back has begun to demonstrate the kind of form that prompted the Bavarian giants to sign him from AS Roma back in 2014, delivering man-of-the-match-worthy showings in back-to-back games against Barcelona and Crotone.

He's been outstanding as a part of Herve Renard's Moroccan defence, and found the net in the decisive qualifying victory over the Ivory Coast.

Victor Moses makes our squad after an excellent campaign for Chelsea, where his career has been transformed over the last 18 months.

Reconverted into a right wing-back by Antonio Conte, he became a key figure in the Blues' title-winning side last term, and was nominated for the BBC African Footballer of the Year award in the process.

For the Super Eagles, he made a series of key performances as they secured World Cup qualification, notably scoring twice in the 3-1 victory at home against Algeria.

Mbark Boussoufa: We've plumped for Boussoufa ahead of John Obi Mikel to take a starting role in this midfield, where he'd operate as this dream team's deep-lying playmaker.

Boussoufa may be 33, but he's rarely controlled games more effectively - and more consistently - as he's done for Morocco during Renard's tenure, especially when paired alongside the rugged Karim El Ahmadi.

He can pick out passes for the Atlas Lions' front-runners, hold onto the ball when the North Africans are under pressure, and dictate the tempo as Renard desires.

Idrissa Gueye sneaks into this midfield ahead of Wilfred Ndidi and El Ahmadi as Africa's outstanding player in his position today.

While Gueye is enduring a testing campaign with troubled Everton, his qualities as a midfield destroyer - capable of breaking up the play, recycling the ball and keeping possession - make him a key component of Senegal's starting XI.

Hakim Ziyech: Arguably Africa's next great creative midfielder, Morocco's 6-0 demolition of Mali during World Cup qualifying is worth re-watching just for Ziyech's magnificent midfield management from deep.

The Ajax man was the architect of that triumph, and has been a consistently excellent presence with the Amsterdam giants since signing from FC Twente at the beginning of last season.

Keita Balde has taken his time to warm up at AS Monaco after signing for the Club of the Principality, but when Balde's in form - as he was towards the end of last season - there are few African attackers who could match him.

The fleet-footed wideman can beat defenders for pace and has the upper-body strength to outmuscle full-backs, but does he have the maturity to cope in a tournament setting?

Mohamed Salah: It's hard to pick out any player who performed better than Salah during qualifying, with the Liverpool forward establishing himself as the Pharaohs' talisman and the long-term successor to Mohamed Aboutrika.

He scored five during qualification, including the double against Congo-Brazzaville that ensured Egypt ended their 28-year wait to reach the World Cup.

If the attacker can continue the early-season form he's shown at Liverpool - where he's broken Robbie Fowler's record for goals scored at the start of his Reds career - then Egypt could be the tournament's dark horses.

Sadio Mane rounds off our African World Cup Dream XI as arguably the outstanding individual in this team - certainly, Mane has the quality to be one of the stars of next summer's showpiece.

None of the defenders heading to Russia will relish the prospect of attempting to nullify the threat of the Liverpool forward, who's consistently proved a match-winner for Jurgen Klopp's side since signing from Southampton in 2016.

Mane marries speed, intelligence and technical class in the final third, although having missed considerable time with injuries and a suspension in the last 18 months, both the Reds and the Teranga Lions may be considering wrapping him up in cotton wool before the tournament.

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