Five hottest prospects to watch out for at 2019 AFCON
With the stakes high and the quality higher, the stage is set for a host of promising young players to make a name for themselves on the continent’s biggest stage.
Here are Five to watch out for at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt:
Samuel Chimerenka Chukwueze (Nigeria/Villarreal)
If you switch off your TV while Chukwueze is in action, you might live to regret it.
The NFF 2018 Young Player of the year award recipient has been one of the breakout stars of the just ended La Liga campaign.
The 19 year old has the ability to keep everyone on the edge of their seats with his skills and flair.
His superb close control and dribbling with his cultured left foot has earned him comparisons with Dutch great Arjen Robben.
Chukwueze arrived at Villarreal from Nigeria’s Diamond Academy in August 2017 for only €500k.
He is now worth €40million but his value is likely to skyrocket after the tournament.
2. Achraf Hakimi (Morocco/Dortmund)
Aged just 20 years old, Achraf Hakimi is is widely-regarded as one of, if not the finest young talent on the continent.
He was voted best young African player of the year 2018 in Dakar during the CAF awards.
Despite his tender years, the Real Madrid-owned Borussia Dortmund right-back has already established himself as a regular at both club level and on the international stage with the Atlas Lions.
Achraf’s combination of physique, athleticism, aggression, reading of the game and ability with the ball comes together to form the package of a complete, modern defender.
3. Andre Onana (Cameroon/Ajax)
Born in Nkol Ngok, Onana joined Spanish giants FC Barcelona in 2010, aged 13, after starting out at Samuel Eto’o Academy.
His Ajax journey started in February 2015. He signed a new contract in May 2017 running till 2021.
The Holland-based shot-stopper is poised to appear in his first Afcon after turning down a pre-selection request by former coach Hugo Broos ahead of the 2017 triumph in Gabon.
Onana was a key figure in the Ajax team that won the League and Cup double and went as far as the semi-final of the UEFA champions league.
4. Nicolas Pepe (Ivory Coast/Lille)
Nicolas Pepe is one of the most wanted men in Europe with a host of top clubs battling for his signature.
The Ivorian attacker had a sensational campaign with Lille last season, scoring 22 goals and recording 11 assists to help his side finish second in the French top-flight division.
Pepe’s 33-goal contribution in Ligue 1 was only bettered in La Liga by Lionel Messi’s 49 (36 goals, 13 assists).
The 24 year old is one of the stars tipped to light up the continental showpiece.
Ivory Coast will be looking to benefit from his pace, trickery and killer instinct in the competition.
5. Samuel Owusu (Ghana/Cukaricki)
The 23-year-old is Kwesi Appiah’s wildcard for the tournament. Little is known of the Serbian based winger but anyone who is anybody that has seen him play has been awestruck.
The budding talent will be a real a weapon from the bench, and if the hype is anything to go by, young Owusu just might have a big say in Ghana’s bid to end a 37-year wait for an African title.