Saturday, 7 January 2017

5 players expected to light up AFCON 2017

The Africa Cup of Nations 2017 will be kicking off in the next seven days.The tournament in Gabon runs from January 14 to February 5.However, as top African soccer nations are gearing up for this year’s tournament, the reality of Super Eagles of Nigeria failure to qualify for the event is beginning to dawn on Nigerians.This is the second time the Super Eagles will be missing out from the continental show piece.But despite Nigeria’s absence from the tournament, takes a look at 5 players who are getting prepared to do their African roots proud, as the world cast their views on the beauty of what the continent has to offer.

1. Riyad Mahrez, AlgeriaAfrica’s best player and BBC African Football of the Year 2016 is one player to watch out for in Gabon.The Algerian enjoyed spectacular success last season as he inspired Leicester to their first league title.Riyad Mahrez named CAF African player of 2016Mahrez, 25, scored 17 league goals and was voted Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year – the first African to win the award.He was also influential to Algeria qualification for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.Mahrez is ranked the seventh best player in theworld.

orld.2. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, GabonRanked the eleventh best player in the world, host Gabon will be banking on the services of their talisman Pierre Aubameyang at this year African Cup of Nations.His 25 goals in the Bundesliga saw him end last season as the league's second-top scorer behind Robert Lewandowski.Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates a goal for DortmundHe was named the 2015 CAF player of the yearand finished as runner up the following year.Aubameyang is a must watch player in the tournament.

 3. Saido Mane, SenegalMane became the most expensive African player in history when he joined Liverpool for £34m in the summer.Saido Mane celebrates a goal for LiverpoolHe has made an immediate impact at Anfield with nine goals for the Reds already this season.Mane is currently the third best player in Africa,as such, the Teranga Lions of Senegal will be banking on his services at this year African Cup of Nations.
 4. Andre Ayew, GhanaWest Ham's Andre Ayew believes Ghana are among the favourites for next month's Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon.However, he is one man whose experience may just carry them all the way.Andre AyewAlthough the midfielder has missed several weeks of the English Premier League season through injury, he scored his first goal for WestHam against his former team Swansea last month.He also finished as the highest goal scorer in AFCON 2015.Ghana will be banking on him to find the back of the net as many times as possible again in this tournament.
5. Khama Billiat, ZimbabweIn Billiat, Zimbabwe has the most important player at AFCON 2017.The Mamelodi Sundowns striker was voted thePSL Player of the Year in 2015.Khama BilliatHe was also recently voted as the second best African based player.Other worthy mentions - F.C Dennis Onyango of Uganda and Mamelodi Sundowns, Mohammed Salah of Egypt and Roma.

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