2017 African Cup of Nations: Players To Watch
It’s that time of the season when African players are off on international duty for their continent’s biggest biennial footballing competition. Having kick-offed in Gabon last night, the 31st edition of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) will feature a plethora of talent from across Europe’s top clubs. Read on to find out who we will have our eyes on.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund and Gabon)
One of Europe’s most prolific goalscorers in the recent past, the French-born 27-year-old will shoulder the hopes of the host nation’s first AFCON title. In the absence of a world-class midfield, as opposed to his club’s support cast, it will be interesting to see how the forward copes with the pressure.
Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City and Algeria)
Talking of pressure, the 25-year-old would know a thing or two about it, after his club have struggled to defend their surprise English Premier League trophy capture from last season. But the creative midfielder isn’t 2016’s African Player of the Year without reason and no better stage than this to prove his mettle.
Sadio Mane (Liverpool and Senegal)
Ever since his move to Anfield earlier this season, the forward has struck a rich vein of form; having scored nine times and assisted on four occasions. The 24-year-old will now look to reproduce the same performance for his country, with the likes of Idrissa Gueye and Moussa Sow providing able support.
Eric Bailly (Manchester United and Ivory Coast)
The young centre back has been one of the key figures in Jose Mourinho’s debut campaign at Old Trafford as the Portuguese was reluctant to let him leave for his country. However, the 22-year-old will hope to play an integral part in his country’s defense of their 2015 AFCON victory.
Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal and Napoli)
The young defender has attracted plenty of attention from Europe’s elite after his showing for the Serie A club. With Chelsea reportedly ready to shell out close to £60 million for his services, the 25-year-old has all the makings of a future star. All the more reason to follow Senegal’s AFCON campaign, it seems!
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