In each edition of the world’s most illustrious sporting competition, players that are not quite known worldwide stun the world and put their name in lights.
This year as ever, numerous relatively under-the-radar men will be eyeing summer stardom but who are the picks of the African bunch?
Let’s take a look.
5. Assane Dioussé – box-to-box midfielder (Senegal)
Despite making only a couple of caps for his national side so far, the 5 ft 9 in man has impressed with Saint-Étienne in his first campaign. In a group that might just open up for the Lions of Teranga, the hard-working 20 year-old could be the destroyer needed against pacey opposition. Playing much like N’Golo Kanté making his name in the same league, watch out for an unmistakable talent.
4. Hakim Ziyech – attacking midfielder (Morocco)
Tearing apart the Eredivsie for years now with three difference clubs, it’s surprising the play-maker hasn’t jumped ship yet. 56 goals in 160 games in his career shows he’s not just about technique and assists as many would assume he is due to becoming renowned for silky play. With a decent team around him, this man might just help drag his team into the knockout stages whilst getting bids lined-up from European top dogs.
3. Ramadan Sobhi – inside forward (Egypt)
Despite his side getting relegated this weekend, the versatile 21 year-old could get his break abroad if he performs anywhere near as good as his teammate Mohamed Salah likely will. Standing a 6ft, his physical presence cannot be understated and is a threat on the counter with his pace & trickery too. However, his poor goal record for both club and country needs to be improved if he is to prove himself capable of being a future star.
2. Kalidou Koulibaly – centre back (Senegal)
He may well not win Calcio A this season, but the rumoured Chelsea target who is worth around £60m to Napoli -according to sources – can really make his mark by being the rock in that aforementioned dynamic side in what could be the infamous ‘Group of Death’ to some. The beast at the back doesn’t just possess height but also pace, with the ability to out-muscle and out-pace attackers. Undoubtedly the most well-known man on this list, he could be playing for a European giant soon enough.
1. Amine Harit – winger (Morocco)
It’s not rare for a French-born man to represent an African side (and vice versa) and this man is the next rising star. Coming through at Nantes before making a move to Schalke 04 last year, the 30 appearances he’s racked up prove faith from one of the Bundesliga’s best teams this season. Costing around £10m, a club may come in with much more if he lights up Russia with his speed and sharp feet that leave full backs on the back foot.
Do you agree or disagree with these picks? Let us know.
featured image credit the Guardian