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Retired no-nonsense Nigeria defender snubs Drogba, hails Ivorian legend as his toughest opponent

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Former Super Eagles defender Rabiu Afolabi has applauded Cote d’Ivoire great Aruna Dindane as the toughest rival he faced during his career, Soccernet.ng reports.

Dindane is considered one of the most gifted Ivorian attackers of all time and dominated the Ivorian football space before the emergence of Chelsea great Didier Drogba.

The former ASEC Mimosas star scored 18 goals in 62 appearances for Cote d’Ivoire, featuring at four Africa Cup of Nations and two World Cup tournaments, winning a silver medal at the 2006 AFCON.

Dindane spent five years each at Anderlecht and Lens early in his career with his path regularly crossing with that of Afolabi. Afolabi played for Belgium’s Standard Liège and French clubs Sochaux and Monaco.

The Nigerian centre-back, who was at the 2002 and 2010 World Cup with the Super Eagles, had several running battles with many of the exciting strikers of the time, including with Chelsea great Didier Drogba.

However, Afolabi insists no forward gave him as much difficulty to deal with as Dindane.

“I played against many tough opponents, including the powerful Didier Drogba, but one particular player that everybody seems to forget is Haruna Dindane,” Afolabi told the Punch.

“He was Ivory Coast’s top striker before the emergence of Didier Drogba. I played many times against him in the Belgian league when he was playing for Anderlecht and of course in the French league when he played for RC Lens, he was a tough one to deal with.”

Afolabi won the Austrian league title with Red Bull Salzburg in 2010, adding it to the 2006–07 Coupe de France title he lifted at Sochaux.