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Messi: Yobo, Toure & Africans who won first major international title after 33

Kolo Toure Kolo Toure won the AFCON with Ivory Coast in 2015 at age of 35

Tue, 13 Jul 2021 Source: goal.com

With the Barcelona star winning his first senior title with Argentina, Goal looks at Africans who achieved similar feat at the dusk of their career.

Messi wins Copa America

After 16 years of wait, the Barcelona ace ended his wait for a maiden senior international title with Argentina.

That was achieved following La Albiceleste’s 1-0 triumph over hosts Brazil in the final of the 2021 Copa America played at the iconic Estadio do Maracana, Rio de Janeiro.

With Messi achieving this feat at 34 years of age, Goal looks at African stars who won their first international title at 33 years and above.

Ali Boumnijel – Tunisia

Considered as one of the greatest Tunisian goalkeepers of all time, the former Club Africain star won his first international title aged 37 years.

Although he made his Carthage Eagles bow against Cote d’Ivoire on 27 November 1991, he had to wait for 13 years before tasting international glory.

That moment came in 2004 when Roger Lemerre’s team silenced Morocco 2-1 in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations.

Boubacar Barry & Kolo Toure – Cote d’Ivoire

Like Boumnijel, the goalkeeper, at 35 years, of age won his first international title thanks to the Elephants’ Africa Cup of Nations triumph at Equatorial Guinea in 2015.

That helped him end his 15-year Cote d’Ivoire wait while playing a crucial role in Herve Renard's squad that included Salomon Kalou, Wilfried Bony and Kolo Toure, who was 33 at the time.

Joseph Musonda – Zambia

He is one of the few players to earn over 100 caps for the Chipolopolo, but he waited for ten years before achieving international success.

Thanks to his impressive form at Nkana FC, the defender was handed his Zambia debut in 2012. Subsequently, he made the country’s squad which feature in the 2008 and 2010 Afcon editions.

Although he was 34 years of age, he made Renard’s cut for Equatorial Guinea and Gabon in 2012. His experience paid off as Zambia silenced Cote d’Ivoire 8-7 on penalties in the final played inside Stade d'Angondje in Libreville.

Mehdi Belmejdoub – Morocco

Romanian coach Virgil Mardarescu was highly criticised for taking the 34-year-old FAR Rabat centre-back to the 1976 Africa Cup of Nations staged in Ethiopia.

Nonetheless, that proved to be Belmejdoub’s last chance to win anything tangible on the international scene as the Atlas Lions beat Guinea on penalties after the score stood 1-1 after extra time.

To date, the defender remains the North African country’s oldest player to win the biennial African football showpiece.

Rais M’Bolhi – Algeria

After representing France at youth level, the goalkeeper switched allegiance to Algeria.

He made his Desert Foxes debut in a 3-0 defeat to the Republic of Ireland on May 28, 2010 – coming on as a second-half substitute.

However, he won his first international three months after he turned 33 – helping Algeria silence 1-0 Senegal in the 2019 Afcon final.

Joseph Yobo - Nigeria

The Super Eagles’ 2013 Africa Cup of Nations triumph ensured that the former Everton and Olympique Marseille star won his first diadem with Nigeria.

After representing the country at the 1999 Fifa U20 World Cup, Yobo made his senior international debut against Zambia in a 2002 Fifa World Cup qualifier on March 24, 2001.

Nonetheless, his first and only international success came 12 years later in South Africa after he had turned 33.

Source: goal.com