AFCON Build Up: Five Players Who Could Steal the Show in Cote d’Ivoire this January 2024

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epa10874956 Leverkusen's Victor Boniface celebrates after scoring the team's third goal during the UEFA Europa League Group H soccer match between Bayer Leverkusen and BK Hacken in Leverkusen, Germany, 21 September 2023. EPA/Christopher Neundorf

By Mazi Jaka

In the build up to African Cup of Nation (AFCON) starting from January 13 to February 11, 2024, you may like to know some of the players to watch out for. 

Who are African players in their best form right now? 

The continent continues to produce its fair share of world-class footballers and our eyes maybe on some of the well known stars, ranked number 8 in world and the current African player of the year Victor Osimhen; the Nigerian star striker who current plays for Napoli. Then Mohamed Salah of Liverpool and Egypt, have been a more consistent star forward for the last six years or so. Sadio Mane, Senegalese “Mane of the match” who is back on his feet after a fatal knee injury that kept him away from 2022 FIFA World Cup. 

You may also want to watch out for Achraf Hakimi, PSG and Moroccan defender as well as the enterprising attacking midfielder from Algeria, Riyad Mahrez, now playing for Al Ahli in Saudi

Five Players who Could Steal the Show in Cote d’Ivoire

Watch out for Ghana black stars, Atlas lions of Morocco, defending champions Senegal, host Cote d’Ivoire and you can never rule out Pharaohs of Egypt and Super Eagles of Nigeria as some of the favourites for this year’s tournament

While we expect most of these stars mentioned above to light up this year’s edition of AFCON, but there are some not too well known players who could steal the show in Cote d’Ivoire

1. Mohammed Kudus ( Ghana black stars) perhaps the best African player of the moment and in the best form of his career. Kudus plays as a midfielder for West Ham and has scored 9 goals, 12 assist in 16 appearances and has been included twice in Premier League team of the month in August and November 2023.

Kudus is an exceptional midfielder that can seize and dictate the flow of the game to himself; always the playmaker and the connecting factor between defenders and the attackers. He is the main deal when it comes to creating chances and scoring goals himself Watch Out for Him. 

2. Inaki Williams (Ghana black stars) striker is enjoying life at Atletic club in La Liga, has scored 8 goals in 18 appearances and has been the key factor in Atletic campaign this year.

 Williams game is about speed and right positioning, always drifting the ball into the 18 yard box, and a thorn in the fresh of defenders. You can never let your eyes slip off on Williams or you will pay darely for it. Combination of Inaki Willams and Mohammed Kudus will be a handful for Ghana opponents at the year’s AFCON, not forget Andre Ayew

3. Victor Boniface ( Super Eagles Nigeria) while all eyes are on Victor Osimhen, the current African Player of the Year, there’s yet another Victor in the Nigerian team, the Beyer Leverkusen bomber, Victor Boniface, has scored 10 goals in 16 appearance and had won Bundesliga rookie of the month award four consecutive times and included in Bundesliga team of the month in August and December 2023.

A bullish style of play, always forcing his way through a very tight defensive formation. It is most difficult to stop Boniface when he is in his element and you will not miss him when he match out for Super Eagles in Cote d’Ivoire. 

4. Youssef En-Nesyri (Atlas Lions Morocco ) is one player defender should never set their eyes off his radar or allowed to slip off; very experienced and slimy in his play style. He can cause a whole lot of damage when you least expected it. 

Sebastien Haller (Cote d’Ivoire) is not a rookie, and his experience is expected to count for the Ivorien national team. If not under much pressure playing for the host country, the Borussia Dortmund striker, Sebastien Haller could steal the show in his native country. 

He is back in his best element, but Dortmund striker hasn’t scored a single goal in 9 appearances this season, but we all know what he can do, and AFCON maybe the best place to break the goal drought. 

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