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AFCON 2021: 10 players to watch out for in Cameroon

Tom Gott
Haidara is on Man Utd's radar
Haidara is on Man Utd's radar / Joosep Martinson/GettyImages
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There are aplenty of bona-fide superstars set to be on show at the Africa Cup of Nations, with Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Edouard Mendy just three of many big names heading to Cameroon to strut their stuff.

On top of the battle for continental supremacy, the AFCON provides players with the platform needed to reach those heights and there are a number of stars-in-waiting ready to explode on to the global scene.

Here are some of the best to keep an eye on.


1. Ilaix Moriba (Guinea)

Ilaix Moriba
Moriba has struggled for minutes in Leipzig / BSR Agency/GettyImages

There were high hopes for young midfielder llaix Moriba following his £14m move from Barcelona to RB Leipzig in the summer, but the 18-year-old saw just 100 minutes of action in all competitions before joining up with Guinea.

He'll be desperate for the chance to strut his stuff, and trust us, Ilaix has got stuff.

A young, powerful midfielder, he boasts deceptive agility and has earned comparisons to Manchester United's Paul Pogba as a result. With a chip on his shoulder, Ilaix could easily be one of the players of the tournament.


2. Mohamed Bayo (Guinea)

Mohamed Bayo
Bayo is making waves in Ligue 1 / JEFF PACHOUD/GettyImages

A team-mate of Ilaix's with Guinea, 23-year-old striker Mohamed Bayo looks destined for big things.

The towering hitman plays his club football in Ligue 1 with Clermont Foot, for whom he bagged nine goals in 17 games in the first half of the campaign.

With excellent link-up play and a powerful 6'2 frame, Bayo has attracted plenty of attention from the Premier League this year and could play himself on to a radar or two here.


3. Pape Matar Sarr (Senegal)

Pape Matar Sarr
Sarr is now on Tottenham's books / Eurasia Sport Images/GettyImages

This could be the first chance for many fans to see Tottenham starlet Pape Sarr, who joined for £14.5m in the summer before heading back to Metz on loan.

What makes Sarr so intriguing is that he is yet to figure out his best position. A defensive midfielder by trade, both Metz and Senegal have used him in more advanced positions in an attempt to take advantage of his impressive on-ball skills.

Hopes are incredibly high for Sarr, and if you haven't seen him before, this is your chance to give him a watch.


4. Kamaldeen Sulemana (Ghana)

Kamaldeen Sulemana
Sulemana is an exciting winger / Soccrates Images/GettyImages

There aren't many players in world football as naturally exciting as Kamaldeen Sulemana. The young Ghana winger is just oozing with flair.

Sulemana boasts a devastating combination of speed and trickery - unsurprising for a player who strived to mimic Ronaldinho as a child - and his footwork is a sight to behold.

The Rennes winger will have you off your seat 24/7, and there are hopes that he could be the difference-maker for Ghana this month.


5. Mohammed Kudus (Ghana)

Mohammed Kudus
Kudus is impressing at Ajax / Soccrates Images/GettyImages

A central midfielder with years of experience as a striker, Mohammed Kudus is the definition of do-it-all.

At Ajax, he has been used primarily in midfield and even in a deeper role, where he is tasked with bursting forward or using his build-up play to create chances, but with Ghana, he's usually deployed in attack.

He's outstanding under pressure and nearly impossible to stop when he gets going - two attributes which are as important as ever these days.


6. Edmond Tapsoba (Burkina Faso)

Edmond Tapsoba
Tapsoba could be set for a huge transfer / Frederic Scheidemann/GettyImages

Young centre-backs are all the rage these days, but somehow, Edmond Tapsoba's name is not a regular in the rumour mill.

The Bayer Leverkusen defender is an absolute monster physically but is technically impressive with his progressing passes, having shone on the left side of his team's defence for a good few years now.

Not 23 until February, Tapsoba's future looks bright and it would not be a surprise to see him linked with your favourite club soon enough.


7. Herve Koffi (Burkina Faso)

Herve Koffi
Koffi is now in Charleroi / BSR Agency/GettyImages

In the debate for AFCON's best goalkeeper is Herve Koffi, who is enjoying a redemption story with Charleroi after a few tough years with Lille.

Koffi headed to France in 2017 but didn't have it all his own way, and after four years and a handful of loans, he was shipped off to Charleroi permanently in the summer.

That move was perfect for Koffi, who has taken his game to a new level in Belgium and could earn himself another move if he has a decent few weeks with Burkina Faso.


8. Hannibal Mejbri (Tunisia)

Hannibal Mejbri
Mejbri will soon be part of the Man Utd first team / James Williamson - AMA/GettyImages

Ralf Rangnick is planning to bring young Hannibal Mejbri into the Man Utd first team when he returns from this tournament, so here's your choice to learn why.

The 18-year-old attacking midfielder has been making a mockery of youth football, with opponents usually resorting to kicking holes in him to try and slow him down.

Hannibal has long been seen as a potential future superstar, and the feeling is that his journey towards living up to that potential is just stepping up a gear.


9. Amadou Haidara (Mali)

Amadou Haidara
Haidara is a wanted man / Alexander Hassenstein/GettyImages

Sticking with United, there are suggestions that Amadou Haidara could be playing alongside Hannibal at Old Trafford next season.

A firm favourite of Rangnick at RB Leipzig, Haidara has more experience than most 23-year-olds and has impressed as a ball-winning midfielder with a keen eye for goal.

Haidara loves to pick up the ball and drive from deep, and there will be a lot of scouts watching him do that here.


10. Joe Aribo (Nigeria)

Joe Aribo
Aribo is shining at Rangers / Eurasia Sport Images/GettyImages

The promise shown by Joe Aribo at Charlton has blossomed into real ability at Rangers, where the towering midfielder has emerged as a genuine goal threat from deep.

Nigeria have tended to use Aribo as a central midfielder but haven't shied away from playing him further forwards, allowing him to focus purely on goals instead of all the dirty work that comes in the deeper role.

He has attracted plenty of interest from the English top flight, with former boss Steven Gerrard's move to Aston Villa only amplifying those rumours.



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