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We may only be one week into 2022, but the first major international football tournament of the year is on the horizon, with the Africa Cup of Nations kicking off on Sunday. .

It also took a long time to happen – it was originally scheduled to take place in June and July 2021, but was brought forward to January 2021 due to weather concerns. He then had to be postponed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Of course, supporters and teams have had to come to terms with the usual postures of some clubs regarding the inconvenience of dropping players mid-season, but despite that, there remains a good selection of big names.

In fact, given the level at which Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Riyad Mahrez and Achraf Hakimi usually play, some might even argue that this is one of the highest quality groups of players to feature in any one. CAN.

But the beauty of every international tournament is that it’s not just about big names – there are plenty of up-and-coming young players looking to wow a global audience.

Kamaldeen Sulemana, 19, winger – Ghana

Hold on to your seats! Kamaldeen is sure to pump up the excitement at CAN, such is his rather chaotic approach to attacking – and acrobatic celebration. The teenage winger is extremely delicate and agile, with his 246 attacking attempts in the 2020-21 Danish Superliga almost twice as many as anyone else – to put that in context, only Lionel Messi has managed more ( 261) in the top five leagues. . He wore it to Ligue 1 after his move to Rennes, with his average impact of a ball shot every 43 minutes being the second best in Ligue 1 (min. 900 minutes played) after Kylian Mbappe – that’s obviously pretty good.

Ibrahim Sangare, 24, defensive midfielder – Ivory Coast

While good performances at CAN alone may not be enough for players to convince big clubs that they are worth the money, showing promise just might draw their eyes a little more. Sangare is definitely one of those who could put themselves “in the window”. The PSV midfielder has a lot on him, especially when it comes to defense. In this season’s Eredivisie, only three players (at least 500 minutes played) have averaged more than his 3.4 tackles per 90 minutes, as he ranks fifth for frequency of interceptions (2.5) and third for recoveries at the middle third (5.7). He’s also technically competent and happy with the ball, with just three players attempting more passes (81.1) on a 90-minute basis than him.

Hannibal Mejbri, 18, attacking midfielder – Tunisia

A former French junior international, Mejbri may not have declared for Tunisia until 2021, but it will already be his second international tournament. The Manchester United midfielder started Tunisia’s six games by reaching the Arab Cup final in December, before losing to Algeria in the final. Hannibal might not perform as well in a full-strength team, but the midfielder possesses the kind of immediate abilities that he appreciates with fans and even his opponents. He’s known to be the target of fouls when playing for United’s second team, such is his natural talent.

Ilaix Moriba, 18, central midfielder – Guinea

2021-22 didn’t quite turn out as Moriba presumably thought. He left Barcelona after failing to secure a new contract, despite breaking into the first-team setup at Camp Nou. The midfielder had shown exceptional promise, especially on the ball – he averaged 3.2 dribbles every 90 minutes, a total improved by just four teammates, and posted a success rate of 89.3% , only Miralem Pjanic having improved it. The € 16million signing has only played twice in the Bundesliga since the move to Leipzig and will surely enjoy some competitive action.

Edmond Tapsoba, 22, central defender – Burkina Faso

If Burkina Faso continues to have a good tournament, Tapsoba will almost certainly have something to do with it. The center-back is an extremely stylish player for someone about the size of a small building and whose name sounds like a hipster bar, and at club level, he performs a vital function in putting Leverkusen on the front foot, with his progressive ball 13.5. in the Bundesliga, this mandate is only passed by Alphonso Davies. If it can translate that onto the international stage, Burkina Faso will have a real weapon in the middle – even if it doesn’t, it will still give them an aerial threat on set pieces.

Abdul Fatawu Issahaku, 17, striker – Ghana

The case of Issahaku is quite intriguing. Transfer rumors in 2021 suggested Liverpool signed him for £ 1.5million, but that quickly turned out to be false. He remains in his native Ghana, but the exciting striker has apparently done enough to win a coup at the international level despite being only 17 years old – he is the second youngest player in the tournament. But he is used to this kind of situation. After all, even before turning 17 in March, he was named a player of the Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations tournament. Although this transfer to Liverpool never materialized, it provided another opportunity to shine.


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