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.
Country: Ivory Coast
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.
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
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
FIFA Congress To Decide Future Host Of FIFA Women’s World Cup™
Council assigns FIFA Women’s World Cup™ hosting decision to the football governing body’s Congress; also approves financial statements for 2020 and budget for 2022.
Meeting by video conference, the Council conferred to the Congress the decision to award Women’s World Cup™ hosting rights.
Until now, the decision has been taken by the FIFA Council, most recently in June 2020 when the hosting rights for the 2023 edition were awarded to Australia and New Zealand.
As the football governing body seeks to raise the profile of the women’s game, this represents a significant step to bring the Women’s World Cup in line with the flagship men’s competition.
The proposal will be put forward for a final decision by the 71st FIFA Congress, which will meet virtually (for the second time) on 21 May.
International match calendar and release of players.
The FIFA Council received a report on the international football situation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Bureau of the Council had extended to April 2021 the temporary amendments to the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players regarding the release of players for international duty, and FIFA, the confederations, and its member associations remain in dialogue with national authorities about exemptions from quarantine rules for national team players.
READ ALSO: Mosengo-Omba Is CAF New General Secretary
The FIFA Council recognized that the highest priority in football is the health of the players, and therefore the discussion around the release of players for international duty must maintain this perspective, especially as the public health situation develops around the world.
2020 financials and 2022 budget
The Council also approved the organization’s Annual Report, which contains the financial statements for 2020 and the budget for 2022.
The FIFA Annual Report 2020 focuses on the role played by world football’s governing body in the fight against COVID-19, primarily through the unprecedented COVID-19 Relief Plan, which has made available USD 1.5 billion to support FIFA’s 211 member associations and the confederations through times of financial uncertainty.
The FIFA Annual Report 2020 is available on the official site.
FIFA Arab Cup 2021™
The Council approved the competition regulations for the FIFA Arab Cup 2021, confirming the match schedule and draw procedure for the competition taking place in Qatar from 1 to 18 December this year.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Fédération Internationale de Football Association.
Paul Onuachu: A Victim Of Tactical Deficiency
Ever wondered why Genk forward Paul Onuachu has always been a prolific figure for his club and find it hard to replicate that form with the Super Eagles when invited?
The Nigeria international has been in awesome form for the Blue-White, scoring 26 goals in the Jupiler League this season for Genk, while his scoring prowess at his club has been a contrast to his form with the national team under Gernot Rohr scoring just once in 9 games despite being a top performer at club level.
Ahead of the AFCON qualifier doubleheader against Lesotho and the Benin Republic, Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr named his 23 man list with the inform former Midtjylland forward listed as one of the standby players.
Onuachu’s struggles with the Super Eagles in previous games he featured is quite baffling, considering the excitement that greeted his first appearance with the national team plus the impressive form he’s currently in.
The job of every manager is to find a suitable position or fashion out tactics that would be suitable for their players in other to blend with the team approaches to every match. In Onuachu’s case, he hasn’t been fortunate enough to blend in with Rohr’s tactics. While at club level, Midtjylland plays to his strength.
However, due to Napoli’s players been restricted from traveling, the Genk forward made it through the backdoor to replace Gernot Rohr’s number one forward Victor Osimhen who hasn’t really hit the ground running with the ‘Partenopei‘, but when with the Eagles, he never fails to deliver.
It’s no doubt that the lanky striker has failed to deliver in his previous games, disappointing the ever-demanding Nigerian football enthusiasts with unforgiving backlashes from the fans. However, his prolific prowess with his club suggests otherwise and consistently makes a case for him to be integrated into the team with a different tactical approach that suits his style.
The era of a target man may have been long gone in football due to the advent of new tactics that have brought about a series of changes in the game. With managers preferring to go with a fast, skillful, or makeshift winger- kind of striker, instead of a target man.
READ ALSO: Super Eagles: 9 Players Who Netted On Debut
Looking at how Paul Onuachu plays with Genk upfront shows he’s one of the best target men in football, despite been perceived by many as a slow and old-fashioned kind of forward. However, John van den Bromm has been able to carve out a tactic that suits him which has been evident with his prolific form irrespective of his style of play.
Onuachu’s Super Eagle future might be on the knife-edge with Gernot Rohr not finding the right tactics that suit the Genk forward, especially with him not been consider as the go-to man despite his blistering runs of form in Belgium.
In recent times Rohr’s philosophy of vibrant attacking football with an emphasis on passing in the final third which requires the expertise of brilliant players to implement such tactics hasn’t really favored him.
Having a player in the mold of Onuachu gives Rohr another tactical option and an alternative style of play should the initial approach fails to work as expected, but the German tactician hasn’t really taken advantage of what the man could offer with a different opponent.
Onuachu’s presence in the Super Eagles team should be an added advantage in terms of variety when the normal approach of the manager fails. With an in-form striker on the bench, it could prove valuable, but in the former Midtjylland’s case, Gernot Rohr doesn’t seem to see him as a player that has a future with the national team.
Players in the mold of the Nigerian are quite physically imposing as the point man, though they may not offer the team excellent off-the-ball movement in some cases. However, they often find a way to provide an opportunity which the team could utilize when attacking or defending.
Onuachu’s inability to show a good turn of pace and smart footwork may have been one of the deficiencies that are affecting his chances of blending perfectly into the team.
However, the job of a manager is to help players blend in perfectly, and that’s exactly what Gernot Rohr should be doing. Not only for Onuachu but for every other player who are always finding it hard to replicate club form with the National Team.