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Palace's Other African Players

3 February 2016


When Emmanuel Adebayor made his Palace debut, Togo was the latest country to be added to the ever-expanding list of nations that could say that one of their own played for Palace. Here we take a look at the other 10 African countries that are in the Eagles’ very own League of Nations.

Algeria – Rachid Harkouk and Adlene Guedioura

Harkouk was born in London to an Algerian father and was snapped up by the Eagles in 1976 from non-league Feltham. He spent two years at Selhurst Park where he became a fan favourite by hitting 25 goals in 63 games before moving to Queens Park Rangers for £150,000, but it was whilst at Notts County he made his Algeria debut at the 1986 World Cup, however picked up an injury during the tournament which ended his career.

Guedioura meanwhile was one of a plethora of signings made by Ian Holloway in the summer of 2013. He arrived from Nottingham Forest but struggled to make an impact in the Eagles’ side and moved to Watford last summer after making just 19 appearances for Palace. He played for his country in the 2010 World Cup, including a group game against England.

DR Congo – Yannick Bolasie

The Eagles winger has made a huge impression on his national side since his debut in 2013, which was delayed as he turned down an invitation to represent the Leopards in the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations to instead aid Palace’s promotion push. He has since gone on to win 24 caps for his country and helped them to a bronze medal finish in the 2015 competition.

Ghana – Kwesi Appiah

The striker gained a shock call-up to international football in 2014 when he was selected by Black Stars’ boss Avram Grant for their pre-Africa Cup of Nations squad. After impressing, Appiah went on to make his debut against South Africa in their final group game, and scored in the quarter-final before they were beaten in the final by the Ivory Coast, where a certain Wilfried Zaha was born but later capped by England having lived in Croydon since the age of four.

Liberia – Alex Nimely

A loan signing from Manchester City in January 2013, the Liberian-born winger was brought into the club by Ian Holloway to try and help his side’s quest to reach the Premier League. However Nimely only played 59 minutes across two appearances before getting injured and returning to Manchester, and is currently without a club with his most recent games coming at Port Vale last season.

Mali – Jimmy Kebe and Bakary Sako

Kebe was another Holloway signing and having scored a few times against the Eagles for Reading, it was hoped he’d continue that form for Palace but only managed six games before being sent on loan to Leeds United, and was released in January 2015. He represented his country three times at full international level and also at the 2004 Olympic Games.

Sako meanwhile has been a hit since he signed on a free transfer last summer, netting on his Palace debut against Aston Villa before following that up with another goal in his second game against Chelsea. He boasts an impressive eight goals in 16 caps for his country and played for them in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.

Mauritius – Gavin Heeroo

The midfielder came through the club’s academy and actually won his first international cap in 2002 before he had even played a game for the Eagles. His only outing for Palace came in 2003 against Preston North End in November 2003 in what was Kit Symons’ first game as caretaker manager. After dropping into non-league football, he started his own fitness business with former teammate Dougie Freedman.

Morocco – Marouane Chamakh

The Eagles striker has won two caps for his country since signing for Palace in the summer of 2013. In total he has 65 for Morocco and 17 goals to his name, and has also captained them on occasion. He looked set to add to that haul but they were expelled from the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations after they pulled out of hosting the competition.

Nigeria – Dele Adebola, Ade Akinbiyi, Victor Moses and Shola Ameobi

The most represented African nation with four different players hailing from the country, Lagos-born Adebola began the trend when he signed in August 2002 and was quickly joined by the £2.2 million Akinbiyi, who won a single cap for his country in 1999. The pair struggled to find the net for the Eagles, and neither lasted much more than a year in SE25.

Moses meanwhile is one of the best players to emerge from the club’s academy, making his debut in November 2007 aged just 16 and played 69 times, scoring 11 goals. However when administration hit he was sold to Wigan Athletic before later playing for Chelsea, Liverpool, Stoke and now West Ham United. He won the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations with Nigeria, and has seven goals in 24 appearances for the Super Eagles.

Shola Ameobi was signed on a short term deal by Alan Pardew a little over 12 months ago and played four times as well as doing some coaching. He was released by Bolton Wanderers last week due to their financial difficulties, but did play for Nigeria at the 2014 World Cup.

Senegal – Pape Souare

Another player bought by Pardew during the 2015 winter window, Souare’s first taste of England came in 2012 when he played for his country at the Olympic Games, including lining up against Great Britain in the first group game at Old Trafford. He has since won 13 caps for Senegal and also played in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.

South Africa – Gavin Nebbeling and Kagisho Dikgacoi

The Johannesburg-born central defender was handed a chance to play professional football in England by the Eagles in 1981, having arrived on these shores after representing Pretoria-based club Arcadia Shepherds, and went on to feature 173 times for the Eagles until leaving in 1989 after playing a part in helping the club reach the top-flight.

Another man who did just that was Dikgacoi who started the 2013 play-off final win against Watford. After representing the Rainbow Nation in their home World Cup in 2010 as a Fulham player, he joined Palace a year later and became a regular in their midfield. He is currently at Cardiff City and has 54 caps for his country.

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