Star-Studded Africa Cup of Nation (AFCON)

AFCON Trophy

The ongoing Africa Cup of the Nation has reached the final stage. It is the 33rd edition of Africa’s biggest sporting football event. This event which started on January 9 has given lots of interesting matches for the fans. Also, the AFCON gained popularity throughout the world due to the participation of star players. As we all know many African players play in the top leagues of the world. The AFCON is filled with players who play top-flight football in English, French, Spanish, Netherland, German leagues.

Therefore, in this article, we will present to you some of the stars you might recognize from AFCON. Let’s get into it:

Achraf Hakimi (Morrocco)

Achraf Hakimi is one of the best young players featuring in AFCON. The 23-year-old right-back has made 41 appearances scoring 5 goals for the Moroccan national team. He is the key player for his national team as a right-back who defends hard and makes threatening crosses from the right flank. He made his international debut for his nation at age 17 in 2016. Since then he made into the squad in youth teams and later in Fifa World cup 2018, AFCON 2019, and 2021.

Hakimi celebrating after scoring a goal. Source:

Moreover, born to Moroccan parents in Spain, Hakimi played for the biggest clubs like Real Madrid and Inter-Milan. As of now, he plays for French giants Paris Saint-German alongside Lionel Messi. At age 23 Hakimi has already won the Champions League with Real Madrid and plays a major role in 2022 PSG’s success to win the European title.

Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal)

Koulibaly is undoubtedly the best center-back in AFCON. However, he could not contribute to his national team due to a hamstring injury. The 30-year-old center-back is the captain of Senegal which happened after his debut in 2015. However, in the initial year, he played for France under 20 side in his youth days. Later, he decided to play for his paternal home nation Senegal. As of now he has featured in the 2017 AFCON and helped his team reach the final of the 2019 AFCON edition. Similarly, he represented Senegal in the 2018 FIFA world cup.

Koulibaly focused during the game. Source: Sports News Africa

Furthermore, Koulibaly started his club career with French team Metz in 2010 before moving to Belgian club Genk. In 2014 he moved to the Italian side Napoli and won Supercopa Italiana and Copa Italia in 2020. He is known as a technical and skillful defender who can cope with pressure. This quality makes him the hottest property during the transfer market. As of now, many European clubs want to sign him for huge money from Napoli.

Edouard Mendy (Senegal)

The only goalkeeper on our list is Edouard Mendy. Mendy has been the key figure for the Chelsea side upon arriving in 2020. The Senegalese goalkeeper has featured 16 times for the national team. The 29-year-old goalkeeper had the opportunity to play for various national sides during the initial years. He played for Guinea-Bissau in honor of his father but later switched Allegiance to Senegal. Also, Mendy could have played for his birth country France but rejected it. He became the first-choice goalkeeper for the Senegal side and helped them to finish runners-up in the 2019 AFCON.

Mendy giving thumps up to his mates. Source: GOOL Fm

Furthermore, the 6 ft 4-inch goalkeeper stunned everyone with his goalkeeping quality in his debut season at Chelsea. Mendy soon became the key player for the London club and won the prestigious Champions in his debut season. He equaled the record for the cleanest sheet (9) in the Champions League. Also, Mendy became the first African goalkeeper to feature in the final of UCL. As of now, he has played for clubs like Le Havre, Reims, Rennes and currently starts for Chelsea.

Sadio Mane (Senegal)

Sadio Mane is another African football superstar who plays for Liverpool. The right-winger is the key player behind the recent success of Liverpool. The 29-year-old starts regularly for the English side alongside his partner Mohammad Salah. Mane was born in Bambali, Senegal, and pursued a career in football despite objections from his imam father. He rose through the youth ranks playing for U23 for Senegal. He made his senior debut in the 2012 Olympic tournament. Also, he represented Senegal in 2017 and 2019 AFCON. He was named in the team of the tournament in 2019 AFCON. As of now, Mane appeared 84 times for Senegal scoring 28 goals.

Mane ready to take a shot during a game against Cape Verde. Source: Sports illustrated

Likewise, Mane started his club career with Metz in January 2012. Since then he played for big clubs like Red bull Salzburg, South Hampton, and currently Liverpool. He signed for Liverpool in 2016 for a fee of $34 million making him the most expensive African player in history at that time. Since his debut at Liverpool Mane appeared 244 times scoring 107 goals.

Riyadh Mahrez (Algeria)

Riyadh Mahrez is arguably the best winger in the world currently. The 30-year-old winger mesmerizes the fans with the swift style of play. He was born in France to an Algerian father who played football in Algeria. He made his international debut for the Algerian side in 2014 against Armenia. Initially, the media were critical of his inclusion in the national side alleging him to have paid for the manager to include him in the squad. However, he proved his worth by scoring and assisting in AFCON games against Malawi in 2014. Since then he has featured regularly for the Algerian side scoring 26 goals in 73 games. He won African footballer of the year in 2016 and won the AFCON title in 2019.

Mahrez celebrating after scoring against Niger. Source: Sada El Balad

Furthermore, Mahrez is a big name in club football. He plays for Manchester City side under Pep Guardiola alongside Kevin DeBruyne. Riyadh moved to Mancity in 2018 for $60 million making him the most expensive African player. He won two premier league and Super Cup, three league cups, one FA cup with Mancity. Also, Mahrez won Premier league player of the year with the city.

Mahrez posing after signing to Manchester city. Source: Premier League

Moreover, Mahrez played for clubs like AAS Sarcelles, Quimper, Le Havre, and Leicester City. During his time at Leicester City, he helped the team to reach the Premier League from Championship and went on to win the Premier League in the 2015-16 season. Mahrez became the first Algerian to win the title. As of now, Mahrez plays for Manchester city which aims to win the Champions League for the first time.

Mohammad Salah (Egypt)

Mohammad Salah is the biggest name on our list of stars. The Egyptian King is arguably one of the best players in the world currently. The 29-year-old striker is the perfect example of African success in the Premier League. He has won everything there is to win club football. Salah started his youth career with Egypt U20 and U23 representing the 2011 FIFA U20 World Cup and 2012 Summer Olympics. Also, he made his senior debut against Sierra Leone in 2011. Since then he started in 79 teams for Egypt scoring 46 goals.

Salah ready to take a shot during a game against Russia in the FIFA world cup 2018. Source: Premier League

Nevertheless, Salah’s success is equivalent to Liverpool’s since he plays a major role in almost all goals they score. He has made 229 appearances for the reds scoring 148 goals. Also, he won a Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup, Champions League, Premier League with the reds. As of now, he has played for clubs like FC Basel, Chelsea, Roma, and Florentine. Likewise, Salah won top scorer in 2017-18 and 2018-19 with Liverpool. Furthermore, he won the player of the year award with Liverpool, As Roma, and FC Basel.