The continental football tournament, the African cup of Nations – AFCON has been the scene where stars playing all over the world get to show their prowess and their ability to shine. Although, the tournament comes with the reluctance of some European clubs to release players who are willing to obey the clarion calls in representing their countries while others have the intention to be reluctant in playing for their countries partly due to the harsh and unfavorable conditions that their football associations make them go through. The other reason is as a result of fear of missing out on important games for their club sides and losing their starting positions from competing teammates. Regardless, the need for players to feature for their countries translates to rewards, love, and cult value from fans and citizens of that country. In no particular order, here are the players carefully researched from statistics and form before the AFCON tournament.
BEYATT LEKWEIRY (Mauritania)
Some countries are not as big as other footballing countries and this might have been the case for the 16-year-old who was called up not only for his abilities but because the most senior players in the country are either ill or fuming from the failure of the football association to pay past allowances and bonuses.
Despite not being a global sensation nor signed for a big club yet, the youngster is on his way to being one with the proper development and focus.
KELECHI IHEANACHO (Nigeria)
“Senior man”, as he is fondly called has had an impressive run for both club side, Leicester city and country. His value has tremendously increased and has become indispensable to the team despite the club’s manager making sacrifices to accommodate some players in some games.
Iheanacho’s pivotal and anchoring roles make him the perfect puzzle that should allow the Super Eagles threatening strikers to shine on the continental stage. Either way, Kelechi Iheanacho will be key to Nigeria and silencing their doubters.
MOHAMED SALAH (Egypt)
Liverpool’s best player and the best player in the Premier League at the moment has been consistent for more than two years now. With 16 goals in 20 games so far, the Egyptian god still has more goals to score after this tournament. It is being speculated that Salah will win the next Ballon D’or if Egypt wins the tournament.
Egyptians win like to see his brilliance and the diminutive player feels the pressure to deliver on the big stage. Although he was part of the team that crashed out of the same tournament in the round-16 three years ago, Salah and his teammates are ready to make it right this time around.
WILFRIED ZAHA (Cote D’ivoire)
Arguably, one of the best wingers in the Premier League, the Crystal Palace superstar will be hoping to deliver the trophy for his country after he switched allegiances. His vital goal in the round of 16 at the 2019 edition saw his country progress through but could not beat Algeria in the quarter-final.
EDOUARD MENDY (Senegal)
Mendy was a key figure during the tournament in 2019 and will be hoping to lift the trophy this time around. An entry into the tournament as one of the best goalkeepers in the world is a confidence booster. Mendy was crucial in Chelsea FC’s European wins in 2021.
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