The 2019 African Cup of Nations, AFCON, kicked off on the 21st June, 2019 and fans have already seen some exciting players doing their things and giving viewers all the excitements.
We therefore, take a look at four of the best young forwards sure to light up the Africa’s biggest football tournament.
NICOLAS PEPE (Cote d’Ivoire/Lille)
All eyes will be on Nicolas Pepe as he represents Cote d’Ivoire at the African Cup of Nations.
Pepe is, by far, one of the hottest talents in Europe at the moment following the recently concluded Ligue 1 campaign where he bagged 22 goals and registered 11 assists for Lille, thus helping them to a second-place finish on the Ligue 1 table.
Pepe has become the subject of heavy interest from the champions of Europe; Liverpool, as Jurgen Klopp considers the forward a potential key to securing the Premier League title next season. Arsenal and Manchester United are also eyeing the pacey forward.
Pepe is insanely fast and skillful and he often goes past players with flair. He’s also a great finisher as he’s able to find the back of the net from long range as well as from inside the 18-yard-area.
The Lille man is Cote d’Ivoire’s key player, going into the African Cup of Nations – his performances could determine if his country will have a good tournament or not.
He will get a chance to show fans a bit of what he’s got for them when Cote d’Ivoire take on South Africa on Monday evening in their first match of the tournament. Fasten your seat belt because you are up for a very fast ride with Pepe as he hopes to drive his country to glory on Monday evening and throughout the tournament.
SAMUEL CHUKWUEZE (Nigeria/Villarreal)
The Nigerian national team always have high expectations placed on them going into any edition of the African Cup of Nations, primarily because of the nation’s history in the competition – having lifted the trophy on three occasions, most recently in 2013.
The National team’s lineup has changed quite a bit since then with new names popping up in almost every position, one of them being Samuel Chukuweze, a player who has been heralded as one of the best Nigerian talents to kick a ball in the past decade.
Chukwueze, 20, is somewhat new to the scene, having only recently been brought into Villarreal’s first-team set-up, but despite his lack of experience, he’s been able to build a reputation as one of the best young players in LaLiga.
The winger is quite similar to Bayern Munich icon, Arjen Robben as he boasts of immense speed and superb dribbling abilities which have endeared him to the fans at the Estadio de la Ceramica.
He has bagged five goals and registered two assists in 19 La Liga starts.
During the Super Eagles’ opener against Burundi on Saturday evening, the winger was a constant threat to the oppositions’ defence, cutting them open at will. He gave the spectators a slice of what he is made up of when, in the second half, he dribbled past four players before releasing his team mate. Fans will surely see more of him in subsequent matches.
HENRY ONYEKURU (Nigeria/Everton)
Henry Onyekuru has spent the past two seasons on loan away from his parent club Everton, and during that period, the interest in him has grown tremendously – so much so that he’s become a transfer target for Bayern Munich as they look to bolster their squad with the legendary ‘Robbery’ duo of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery poised to leave the club.
Onyekuru scored 14 goals and registered three assists for Galatasaray in the recently concluded Super Lig season, thus sparking interest from Bayern Munich amongst others.
The 22-year-old is extremely pacey and agile as he’s able to take players on and run into spaces without being caught. He also possesses nimble footwork which allows him to evade players whilst being marked tightly.
Gernot Rohr will be hoping that Onyekuru can replicate that form for Nigeria in the AFCON. Onyekuru is expected to play a major role in the Super Eagles’ run in the competition. Though he was not considered for the Super Eagles’ opener against Burundi, he is sure to step in to put his pace to use in subsequent matches.
Mahmoud Hassan, also known as Trezeguet due to his stark resemblance with the French football legend was expected to be a key player for Egypt alongside Mohamed Salah at the African Cup of Nations. He has not disappointing as he found the net on the 41st minute in Egypt’s opening match win against Zimbabwe.
The Kasimpasa attacker is comfortable using both feet thus making him deadly in and around the 18-yard-area and he was a constant threat in the final third throughout the host country’s first match.
Trezeguet managed to bag nine goals and nine assists in the 2018/19 Super Lig season.
He will surely light up the biggest football competition in Africa as Egypt eye the trophy.