7 young, promising players to watch this AFCON

3 min read
7 young, promising players to watch this AFCON

The anticipation for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) is reaching a crescendo, with the promise of showcasing the best football talent from across the continent. In this feature, we delve into the profiles of seven exceptional under-21 players who are set to leave an indelible mark on the tournament hosted in Ivory Coast.

1. Dango Ouattara – The Explosive Winger (21 years old)

Dango Ouattara, a 21-year-old winger, has been making waves with his explosive displays on the pitch. Despite facing challenges at Bournemouth, where he was acquired for a club-record €22.5 million from Lorient, Ouattara has proven his worth by contributing seven goals and two assists in 18 games. Burkina Faso, in Group D alongside Angola, Algeria, and Mauritania, will heavily rely on Ouattara’s prowess to make a significant impact in the tournament.

2. Yankuba Minteh – Gambia’s Young Sensation (19 years old)

Nicknamed “Messi” for his outstanding performances, Yankuba Minteh, a 19-year-old winger, has been turning heads with his skills. After an €8 million move to Premier League giants Newcastle, he was immediately loaned out to Feyenoord, where he has showcased his talent with four goals and two assists in 18 games. Despite having only recently made his national team debut, scoring against DR Congo, Minteh’s potential shines in a challenging Group C against Cameroon, Senegal, and Guinea.

3. Kamaldeen Sulemana – Ghana’s Experienced Youngster (21 years old)

Southampton’s Kamaldeen Sulemana, at just 21, brings a wealth of experience to the Ghanaian squad. Despite his club facing relegation from the Premier League, Sulemana, with 18 caps, is integral to Ghana’s hopes in Group B against Egypt, Cape Verde, and Mozambique. Having already participated in a World Cup, Sulemana’s maturity and skill set make him a key player for the Black Stars.

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4. Ousmane Diomande – Sporting Lisbon’s Defensive Prodigy (20 years old)

Ousmane Diomande, the 20-year-old central defender, has become the talk of the European transfer market with his standout performances for Sporting Lisbon. Joining from Midtjylland in January, Diomande has quickly established himself, making 20 appearances across all competitions and scoring twice. With just three caps for Ivory Coast, he will be looking to replicate his club form in a challenging Group A against Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, and Guinea-Bissau.

5. Simon Adingra – Ivory Coast’s Bright Young Star (21 years old)

Simon Adingra, a 21-year-old Ivorian forward, has been making waves in the Premier League with Brighton. His five goals and three assists for the club showcase his attacking prowess. As Ivory Coast hosts the AFCON, Adingra’s contributions will be crucial in bolstering the team’s competitive frontline.

6. Pape Matar Sarr – Tottenham’s Rising Midfielder (21 years old)

Pape Matar Sarr’s journey from Metz to Tottenham has been nothing short of remarkable. Recognized as a special talent, Tottenham secured his services for €16.9 million in the summer of 2021 and loaned him back to the French club. In his second season at Tottenham, the 21-year-old utility midfielder has already played 16 Premier League games. Despite a recent injury, Sarr’s importance to Senegal is evident with 18 appearances for the Teranga Lions. Group C, featuring Cameroon, Gambia, and Guinea, will test Sarr’s mettle as Senegal aims for a successful campaign.

7. Fares Chaibi – Algeria’s Creative Force in Bundesliga (Not Specified)

Fares Chaibi, the creative midfielder at Eintracht Frankfurt, is spearheading the new generation of Algerian talent. His performances in the German Bundesliga, featuring two goals and nine assists in 22 games since joining from Olympique Lyon last summer, have marked him as a player to watch. As Algeria competes in Group D against Angola, Burkina Faso, and Mauritania, Chaibi’s skilful playmaking and vision will play a pivotal role in their campaign.

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Conclusion

As the 2023 AFCON unfolds in Ivory Coast, the footballing world eagerly awaits the performances of these seven under-21 talents. Their journeys from challenging club environments to the grand stage of the continental tournament showcase not only their skills but also their resilience. Whether it’s Ouattara’s explosive displays, Minteh’s nickname-worthy performances, or Sarr’s rise from Metz to Tottenham, each player brings a unique story to the tournament. As fans, we brace ourselves for a captivating display of talent and potential, heralding a new era for African football.

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