Egypt and Ahly playmaker Mohamed Abou-Treika (Photo: Reuters)
A look at five great African players who would have enriched the world's most prestigious football tournament, if only given the chance.
Mohamed Abou-Treika (Egypt)
With Egypt's 7-3 aggregate defeat by Ghana, Mohamed Abou-Treika will miss out on the one thing he has dreamt about the most: playing in the World Cup. At 35, the iconic Egypt and Ahly playmaker hoped to end his glorious career among the elites of the world's most prestigious event. The two-time Africa-based Player of the Year has been a part of every Ahly win, and he led the Pharaohs to two Africa Cups of Nations in 2006 and 2008. However, Abou-Treika never made it to the World Cup.
Despite the suspension of local competitions in Egypt, Abou-Treika has been a scintillating combination of talent, clairvoyance and a killer instinct in front of the goal. He led Ahly to an eighth Champions League title, scoring six goals including two in the two-legged final. He was inspirational for Egypt throughout their qualifying campaign, scoring six and delivering another four before being dashed by Ghana.
A figure that will be sorely missed in Brazil 2014.
George Weah (Liberia)
Voted African Player of the Century, Liberia's legend George Weah never had a taste of the World Cup. He collected honors everywhere he went, including Africa, France, Italy and England. Weah, a three-time African Player of the Year in 1989, 1994 and 1995, is the only African player to win the FIFA World Player of the Year Award and the Ballon d'Or for best European Player of the Year in 1995.
The former AC Milan, Chelsea and Monaco striker has been the star, coach and even financial backer of the Liberian team, but that was not enough to take this small country to the world stage.
Abedi Pele (Ghana)
Abedi Pele (Photo: Fifa site)
One of Africa's most gifted strikers. Abedi Ayew was nicknamed 'Pele' in recognition of his amazing skills resembling those of legendary Brazilian striker Pele. He was one of the pioneers of African football in Europe and one of few who won the European Champions League title in 1993 with Marseille. He was named the Man of the Match for his outstanding performance.
A three-time African Player of the Year, Pele is considered Ghana's best-ever footballer. The Nations Cup title in 1982 is his only decoration on the international stage. Despite missing out the World Cup, he was able to watch his sons Andre and Jordan Ayew compete in the prestigious tournament in 2010 and will likely do so again in 2014.
Kalusha Bwalya (Zambia)
Kalusha Bwalya, Zambian football legend, in action during his playing career.
The Zambian legend is dubbed Africa's most famous "Number 11." The 1988 African Player of the Year captained the team in the 1994 World Cup qualifiers, and miraculously avoided the plane crash that killed the entire Zambian team on 27 April 1993 in the Atlantic Ocean off of Gabon. Bwalya was assigned to rebuilding the team and led them to third place in the 1996 Nations Cup. The 'Great Kalu' scored 100 goals in 147 matches for Zambia.
Mahmoud El-Khattib (Egypt)
Another Egyptian icon who never made it to the World Cup, El-Khattib is viewed as the best Egyptian footballer in history. Arab Sportsman of the Century, and second to Cameroon's Roger Milla in a list of Africa's best players from the past 50 years (1957-2007), El-Khattib is the only Egyptian player to win the African Player of the Year award, in 1983. The Ahly forward has won everything at the club level and was a key member of the Pharaohs squad that lifted the African Cup in 1986. However, he barely missed the team that went to the World Cup in 1990.
As a consolation, he got a glimpse of world glamour after leading Egypt to the quarter-finals of the Olympic games in 1984.
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