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AFCON 2019: The Top 10 Players To Watch Out For

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Less than 24 hours to the start of Africa’s biggest football fiesta, the whole of the continent is eagerly anticipating the Africa Cup Of Nation‘s as well as the actions and excitements that comes with it.

Furthermore, there will be array of stars on parade for their respective countries, and since this is the first AFCON to be held in the summer with the major leagues on break, there is no case of a big player missing out on the competition.

However, in this write up we take a look at the players who have the potentials to dazzle at the 2019 edition of the competition in Egypt, while some of them are prominent, others showed their potential weeks coming into the competition.

Nicolas Pepe
Position: Forward
Country: Ivory Coast
Club: Lille

Pepe is one of Africa’s most sought after player, having posted impresive display for Lille in the Ligue Un last season, scoring 22 goals just behind Kylian Mbappe on the top scorer chart

The 24-year old was born in France but decided to represent the Ivory Coast, the youngster has been courted by the biggest Clubsides in Europe including the current Uefa Champions League holders, Liverpool.

It will be interesting to see what Pepe has in him on display at the AFCON.

Wilfred Zaha
Position: Forward
Country: Ivory Coast
Club: Crystal Palace

Another Ivorian who would definitely add to the quality of the Elephants forward line and just like Pepe, Zaha is also courted by English Premier League top guns as well as European heavyweights.

Similarly, Zaha chose to represent Ivory Coast ahead of England after being neglected despite his impressive showing with the U21s in previous years.

The 26-year Old featured at the 2017 AFCON in Gabon and it is memory the Crystal Palace forward will he hoping to erase and better in Egypt as the 2015 Champions were dumped out of the last edition at the group stages.

Fitson Abdul Razak
Position: Striker
Country: Burundi
Club: Js Kabylie

Well before the start of the qualifiers for the AFCON, Abdul Razak was virtually unknown apart from his native Burundi and in the Algerian League where he plays his club football with JS Kabylie.

However, after guiding his country to it’s first ever Afcon appearance, the striker has become a name to reckon with after finishing the qualifiers with 6 goals in 6 games to finish second behind Odion Ighalo who top-scored the qualifiers with seven goals.

It is left to be seen how he would fare with a higher level of competition, a similar turnout of statistics for the striker could lead Burundi to an unprecedented showing at the AFCON.

Piqueti Djassi
Position: Forward
Country: Guinea-bissau
Club: Al Shoulla

Probably the least known player on this list, however Piqueti Djassi is a player with enough quality that can terrorise defenders and opponents.

Guinea-bissau are making their second appearance at the AFCON and it was at there debut at Gabon 2017 where Piqueti shone after scoring an impressive solo goal against Cameroon in their group game.

However, it is expected that the 2017 experience could push the 26-year old to a better showing in Egypt.

Alex Iwobi
Position: Midfielder
Country: Nigeria
Club: Arsenal

Alex Iwobi has been a regular member for the North London outfit with his impressive displays, which has seen him attrack interest from several European clubs

Since he made his Premier League debut in 2015, Iwobi has gone to provide 11 goals and 16 assists in 100 Premier League games for the Gunners

With John Mikel Obi stating that the 2019 AFCON could be the last tournament he would appear for Nigeria, fans have been anxious hoping to find a Midfielder who could take the mantle from the man who was touted in his early years as the heir to Jay Jay Okocha.

Alex Iwobi seems to be the most likely to fill into the big shoes to be left behind by the Chelsea legend and after featuring at the 2018 FIFA world cup and playing important roles in the qualifiers, there are high hopes on what the Arsenal midfielder would show at the competition.

Hakim Ziyech
Position: Forward
Country: Morocco
Club: Ajax

After a stellar season with Ajax, the Morocco playmaker now has his sights set on the Africa Cup of Nations.

Ziyech has been making a name for himself with Dutch Eredivisie champions Ajax Amsterdam. This season, he netted 21 goals in all competitions and played an integral role in his club reaching the semi-finals of the Uefa Champions League.

Ziyech’s performances in the Eredivisie and the Champions League over his two-year spell at Ajax have attracted the attention of Europe’s top clubs

Hakim has powering left foot, searing pace and boundless energy, all of which will be on show at this year’s Afcon tournament, and will be looking to help his team to their first Afcon since 1976.

Saido Berahino
Position: Forward
Country: Burundi
Club: Stoke City

Another Burundi striker, another English born player now turning out for his country of origin.
Berahino was heralded as the next big thing for the three Lions during his time at West brom.

Now with Stoke City in the Championship, the striker will be another source of creativity and threat for Burundi alongside Fiston Abdul Razak after a long period of drought in front of goal threw him into the wilderness of international football with England, now choosing to represent his county of origin.

Hopefully the forward can show the quality he had in his youth football, one thing many would be looking out for at the AFCON

Moussa Wague
Position: Defender
Country: Senegal
Club: Barcelona

Moussa Wague secured an unprecedented move to FC Barcelona last year after impresive showings at the 2017 FIFA U20 World Cup in South Korea and at the FIFA World Cup in Russia where he scored against Japan

With his move to Barcelona alot has been expected from the defender especially from national team handlers and with the experience of the likes of Kalidou Coulibally to learn from, Wague could be one of the best defenders in the world, a good show at the AFCON could be a big step to that.

Percy Tau
Position: Midfielder
Country: South Africa
Club: Union Saint Gilloise

No longer an unknown name on the African continent and especially for Nigerians, Tau is not a name that would be forgotten quickly after his terrorising display against the Super Eagles in the qualifiers.

The diminutive attacker will be spearheading a hopeful South African team at this years Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) looking to bring glory to the nation from the Southern part of Africa.

Tau’s individual brilliance also earned him the prestigious Footballer of the Year award and Players’ Player of the Year award in his final season with Sundowns, and found himself among the list of nominees for African Player of the Year award as well.

The U-S Gilloise of Belgium striker could prove too much for South Africa’s opponents in group A including the hosts, Egypt.

Andre Onana
Position: Goalkeeper
Country: Cameroon
Club: Ajax

Not many African countries can boast of a young goalkeeper with enough European football experience under his belt.

Andre Onana won the domestic double with Ajax in the Netherlands, including an impressive run in the Champions League where they got to the semi finals beating Real Madrid and Juventus on their way.

He would be as important as every other player in the Teranga Lions squad even though he has a healthy competition for the number one spot with Carlos Kameni and Fabrice Ondoa.

 

 

 

 

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Daniel is a passionate lover of Nigerian football. Follows local football and the national teams religiously. Aside from writing, he also does Sports analysis on Radio. Write to me on danycrusoe@gmail.com or follow me on twitter@danycrusoe95

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