- Percy Tau – South Africa
Club: Union SG/on loan from Brighton & Hove Albion
(Belgium and England)
The 25-year old helped Bafana Bafana qualify for the African Cup of Nations scoring 4 goals during the qualifiers. He is arguably South Africa’s most dangerous player and will be heavily involved in Bafana Bafana’s attack this summer. Percy Tau signed with English club Brighton last summer but was immediately moved on loan twice to Witbank Spurs and Union SG.
- Idrissa Gueye – Senegal
Club: Everton (England)
Liverpool’s Sadio Mane will definitely take the spotlight at the 2019 AFCON tournament, but Idrissa Gueye is also a key part of the Teranga Lions team. Gueye resembles Chelsea’s N’golo Kante because of his work ethic and energy level on the pitch. Idrissa Gueye will hold Senegal’s midfield together, and most definitely look to spread key passes to Sadio Mane for goals.
- Andre Onana – Cameroon
Club: Ajax Amsterdam (Netherlands)
Andre Onana came into the spotlight after Ajax’s semi-final appearance at this year’s UEFA Champions League. The Cameroonian goalkeeper is only 23 and looks to solidify his spot as Africa’s best goalkeeper. Andre Onana has only appeared 9 times for the Indomitable Lions but will be a key part of the team during this tournament.
- Wilfred Zaha – Ivory Coast
Club: Crystal Palace (England)
Arguably my favorite football player in the English Premier League, and one of the most exhilarating players to watch at AFCON. Wilfred Zaha has exceptional footwork, pace, and dazzling moves on the pitch. Only recently agreeing to play for Ivory Coast, he will face lots of pressure to carry The Elephants far in AFCON 2019. Wilfred Zaha has been overlooked at Crystal Palace. British pundits predict that it is time for him to move to a bigger English club. Zaha has the chance to surprise fans and make a deep run in the tournament.
- Naby Keita – Guinea
Club: Liverpool (England)
Naby Keita could not replicate his spectacular season at Leipzig when Liverpool signed him. He was battling injuries all through this season and could not solidify his spot at Liverpool. Naby Keita playing style is similar to Idrissa Gana Gueye because of his tackling and energy level. Guinea is always a totally different team when Naby Keita is fully fit. Guinea can surprise their opponents if Keita plays to his potential.
- Henry Onyekuru- Nigeria
Club: Galatasaray (Turkey FC), on loan Everton FC (England)
Henry Onyekuru has made an immediate impact on the Super Eagles attack and should have been included in the team during the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. He brings more attacking options to the Super Eagles. Even though Nigeria’s head coach, Gernot Rhor likes to rotate his attackers such as Ahmed Musa, Paul Onwuachu, Samuel Kalu, Odion Ighalo, Samuel Chukwueze, Alex Iwobi, and Osimhen, Onyekuru is yet to start a game for the Super Eagles at AFCON 2019. When he does, we can expect him to cause problems for opponents.
- Nicolas Pépé – Ivory Coast
Club: Lille FC (France)
At 24, it is Nicholas Pepe’s best chance to catch the eye of bigger European clubs. The Elephants of Ivory Coast have been rebuilding since they won this tournament in 2015. Wilfred Zaha and himself are new additions to the squad, and they’ll be looking to score goals to help the Elephants g far in the tournament. A lot of big European clubs already have an eye on him, but a strong performance would only solidify a move away from Lille FC.
- Ismaïla Sarr – Senegal
Club: Stade de Rennais FC (France)
Ismaila Sarr definitely caught the attention of people during last year’s FIFA World Cup. At 21, he is a regular starter for his club Stade de Rennais in France. Sarr’s tall frame makes him dangerous in the air, and his pace has always been a problem for defenders. Sadio Mane pairing up with a young attacker like Sarr only makes Senegal’s pursue victory stronger.
- Hakim Zyiech – Morocco
Club: Ajax Amsterdam (Netherlands)
Hakim Zyiech shined with Ajax during the Champions League and scored many goals this season helping Ajax win the Dutch League. Zyiech failed to live up to expectations at the 2018 World Cup with Morocco. He redeemed himself this season, and AFCON 2019 is the best chance to prove himself with the national side. Hakim has the potential to be among the top 3 players in Africa at 26 years old.
- Samuel Chukwueze – Nigeria
Club: Villarreal FC (Spain)
His childhood hero is Bayern Munich’s Dutch player, Arjen Robben. Samuel Chukwueze is only 19 and is the future of the Super Eagles. It has been the trend in Nigeria that majority of the country’s U-17 players are unheard years after winning the tournament. Only very few have been successful in Europe. Chukwueze is proving to be an exception. He was a regular starter at Villareal this season and was involved in big games against Real Madrid and Barcelona. In my opinion, he will pose one of the most dangerous attacking threats at AFCON 2019.
*Ikem Aginam is passionate about football. He is interested in FIFA and follows major football events including the leagues in Europe and African football competitions. He is a fan of the Super Eagles of Nigeria and Chelsea FC. He is currently a student of The International School of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where he plays for the school’s basketball, football, and track and field teams.