The 2019 AFCON tournament has already gotten underway and the expectations have begun to build. Expectedly, the big name foreign stars scattered all over Europe and Asia will be lighting up the football showpiece, bringing to the tournament the spectacular performances they posted for their various teams last season. It is always a huge excitement for fans to see their favourite club stars come back home to wear their country’s national colours and give them a spectacular football tournament. In this feature, City People’s Senior Editor, WALE LAWAL, presents the top ten players fans expect to see banging in the goals this at AFCON 2019.
He was Liverpool’s hottest player two seasons ago. And he didn’t do too badly last season either. Mo was so on fire that Liverpool fans expected him to score in every game he played. At the just concluded 2018/2019 season, Mo Salah netted 22 Premier League goals for Liverpool, sharing the Golden Boot Award with team mate Sadio Mane and Arsenal’s Pierre Aubameyang. He is coming to AFCON 2019 as Egypt’s Talisman. The Egyptian is the 2017 and 2018 African Player of the Year. He has scored his first goal of AFCON 2019 when Egypt took on Kenya for their 2nd match.
He has been a phenomenon both for club (Liverpool) and country (Senegal) He also had an impressive season for Liverpool, ending the 2018/2019 season with 22 Premier League goals. He is yet to get off the mark at the current AFCON tournament, but you can be sure that it is only a matter of time that Sadio Mane’s name will be on the score sheet.
Currently on loan to Marseille from Premiership side, West Ham, Andre Ayew, son of Ghana’s legendary footballer and former captain of the Black Stars of Ghana, Abedi Pele, had a very difficult season last term. He was sent on loan from West Ham after he was unable to find the net after several appearances and still couldn’t get it right at Marseille. But you must never write off Andre. He has already gotten his name on the score sheet at AFCON 2019. He scored his first goal in Ghana’s clash against Benin Republic.
Like his elder brother, he has also had a tempestuous 2018/2019 season. He plays for Premier League side, Crystal Palace and was only able to manage just a goal for the club. But one thing about Jordan that people admire, it’s his fighting spirit, on the pitch, he never gives up, a trait he obviously inherited from his father. This is why it is not a surprise to many that he has already put his name on the score sheet.
He has been a revelation for his Algerian national team. Three seasons ago, Riyad had an excellent season with Leicester City. Alongside Jamie Vardy, he scored some of the best goals of his football career at Leicester before making a big money move to Premier League champions, Manchester City. He scored seven goals in his debut season for Man City and will be looking to fire his country to AFCON glory at this year’s tournament. He is yet to score at AFCON 2019.
This very pivotal player for the Ivorien national side has also been a phenomenon for his club side, Crystal Palace. He scored ten crucial goals for the club last season and helped them to a decent finish. At the current AFCON tournament, Wilfried is yet to score, but if you know Wilfried then you’ll know he is more than capable of scoring anytime soon.
He is one of Stoke City’s prominent attackers. He is strong and fluid on the ball. He is also Burundi’s biggest football export at the moment. And although he is yet to record a goal for the Burundi national side at the on-going AFCON 2019 tournament, no one can put it past Berahino not to make his presence felt on the in the competition. He might find the back of the net any moment.
He played for Changchun Yatai and had a stellar performance for the club. The Nigeria international scored 21 goals in 28 games for his Chinese club but his huge haul of goals still couldn’t save his club from relegation. But at AFCON 2019, Ighalo appears to have put all that behind him as he scored a sublime goal for the Super Eagles of Nigeria in their extremely tough encounter with Burundi in their first game of the AFCON 2019 tournament. Odion has continued to defy all odds, proving time and time again that he remains Nigeria’s most prolific striker at the moment.
This fast and pacy forward had an outstanding season with Al Nassr, scoring 9 goals in 21 club matches. But it wasn’t just his goals that made him a fans delight at the club, his dazzling runs on the flanks, impressive work rate and assists were also some of his features that stood him out from the rest of the pack. At the current AFCON tournament, Ahmed is yet to register his name on the score sheet but he has started to make impact. Ask the South Africans, and they will tell you how they’re still hurting from his two well taken superb goals against them during the 2nd leg of the Nations Cup qualifiers.
He also had a great season with Ajax, the underdogs at European Champions League who turned out to be giant killers, eliminating Juventus and Real Madrid from the championship. Hakim is already at the AFCON 2019 tournament with his country’s national team, Morocco. And although the 26-year-old has not found the back of the net yet, he has worked his socks off for his team. His contributions have been impressive and he is confident that, surely, the goals will come.