Top 7 African Goalkeepers of the 1980s

At a time when the world admired the skills of African goalkeepers, the 1980s saw many exceptional goalkeepers make their mark on football history. From Thomas N’Kono’s indomitable presence at the 1982 World Cup to Joseph-Antoine Bell’s double triumph at the Africa Cup, these goalkeepers have left an indelible mark. Mehdi Serbah’s unexpected heroics against Germany and the unwavering loyalty of Thabet El-Batal and Ekrami El-Shabat to Al-Ahly contributed to the legacy of the continent’s goalkeepers. Zaki Badou, Morocco’s World Cup pioneer, ended the decade with consistency and distinction. In the 1980s, people in Africa practically had no chance to try casino plays, but now, due to the online world, anyone with a computer or smartphone can test online casinos and betting in Africa. Choose this list with the best bonuses while we begin our untold story of Africa’s goalkeeping maestros of the 1980s.

1. Thomas N’Kono (1955). Cameroon. “Canon” 1976-82, “Espanyol” 1982-91

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Toma shone at the 1982 World Cup, conceding just one goal in three games, and that was for a foul in the penalty area. Eight years later, N’Kono has missed a lot – just four goals from the USSR national team. But his team became the first African team to reach the quarterfinals of the World Cup. The “Indomitable Lions” battled the British and eventually lost in a worthy fight. And let us remember the influence Tom had on the young Gigi Buffon.

2. Joseph-Antoine Bell (1954). Cameroon. “Africa Sports” 1980-81, “Al-Mokawloon” 1981-83, “Marseille” 1985-88, “Toulon” 1988-89, “Bordeaux” 1989-91

People are still arguing about who is cooler – Thomas or Joseph? Both were excellent goalkeepers, not only at the continental level. But at the World Cup, the hero of the previous paragraph performed better. Bell went to Italy as number one, but Valery Nepomnyashchy, who worked in 1990 with the Cameroonians, said that “Uncle Jo” did not really believe in a successful confrontation with the Argentines, unlike his colleague. For this reason, Bell missed out on two World Cups. But he did win two Africa Cups – in 1984 and 1988.

3. Mehdi Serbah (1964). Algeria. “Cuba” 1980-82 and 1983-86, “Montreal Manic” (mini-football) 1983

Serbah’s presence on this list may confuse some. At the 1982 World Cup, he conceded two unnecessary goals from Chily, so the Algerian national team dropped out of the group. But Mehdi did create a sensation in Spain. He beat the German national team and helped the World Cup debutants win one of the strongest teams in the world. In Algeria, Serbakh was recognized as the best goalkeeper of the twentieth century. Probably not only because of the game against the Germans.

4. Thabet El-Batal (1953-2005). Egypt. “Al-Ahli”. 1973-91

Thabet remained loyal to one club for 18 seasons – Cairo’s Al-Ahly, with whom he won the Egyptian championship 11 times and the African Champions Cup twice. El-Batal played 87 games for his country’s national team, took part in many regional tournaments and the Olympic Games, and fulfilled his dream at the end of his career – he was in national team stuff in the World Cup. However, Tabet was unable to play on the Italian pitches.

5. Ahmed Shobair (1960). Egypt. “Al-Ahli” 1980-96

At the 1990 World Cup, the goal of the “Pharaohs” was defended by Ahmed Shobair, who started as the third goalkeeper of Al-Ahli. He was then promoted to second and finally to first goalkeeper. Nine-time Egyptian champion and winner of several African cups. Incidentally, at the 1990 World Cup, the Egyptian national team and its goalkeeper put in a more than worthy performance. Two draws – against the Dutch and the Irish – and a defeat against the British. Shobair conceded only two goals in three matches.

After finishing his football career, Ahmed Shobair took on many roles and was successful in all of them. He was a deputy of the Egyptian parliament for many years and was vice president of the Egyptian Football Association. Today, Ahmed Shobair is a popular football commentator, football talk show host, and video blogger.

6. Ekrami El-Shabat (1955). Egypt. “Al-Ahli” 1971-87

It is a rarity for two goalkeepers from the same club to play for the national team. But three goalkeepers from the same club are being called up… That’s hard to imagine. All three weren’t called up at once, but Red Giants goalkeepers have been available to the Pharaohs for almost two decades. Ekrami El-Shebat was not only very popular in Cairo. The “Monster of Africa” is one of the continent’s ten strongest goalkeepers of the twentieth century.

7. Zaki Badou (1959). Morocco. “Vidad” 1978-86, “Mallorca” 1986-92

One of Africa’s strongest goalkeepers of the last century, fourth on the list. The best footballer on the continent in 1986. The same year, thanks to their goalkeeper and captain, the Moroccans became the first African team to get past the group stage at the World Cup. The “Lions of Atlas” ended the matches with the Polish and English teams with zero draws and then beat the Portuguese 3-1. In the 1/8 finals against the Germans, the Moroccan team and their goalkeeper cut a fine figure. But Badu’s only mistake during the entire tournament was fatal. A minute and a half before the end of the game, he mistakenly built a wall, which Lothar Matthaeus exploited.

But after the World Cup, Zaki signed a contract with Spanish Mallorca and served it faithfully for six years. He helped them get out of Segunda, became the most reliable goalkeeper in the second Spanish division, and reached the finals of The Copa del Rey. And yet the Moroccan usually conceded less than one goal per game.


 As the whistle blew in the 1980s, Africa’s goalkeeping titans left a lasting legacy. From iconic performances on the world stage to tireless dedication at the club level, these goalkeepers have proven their skill, resilience, and loyalty. N’Kono, Bell, Serbah, El-Batal, Shobair, El-Shabat, and Badou – their names continue to resonate as pioneers who shaped an era and paved the way for future goalkeeping greats on the African continent.

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