The 2023 AFCON tournament is officially eighteen days away from its official kick-off. The tournament will be hosted in Ivory Coast from January 13th to February 11th.
Soccernet.ng looks into ten exciting and talented footballers who have the potential to spring up a surprise as they look to lift the most prestigious African footballing award for their country.
1. Silas Mvupa Katompa – Congo DR, VFB Stuttgart
VFB Stuttgart are just four points behind Bayern Munich on the Bundesliga table after sixteen matchdays and are gunning for the Champions League spots. Silas, a fleet-footed winger, has played a huge part in the success of Sebastian Hoeneß’s men this season, scoring three and creating one in eight starts, and is primed to lead Congo in attack next month.
2. Mohammed Salah – Egypt, Liverpool
A household football name that requires no introduction. The two-time African Footballer of the Year has attempted to win the competition three times, with his last attempt in 2021, losing the final to Sadio Mane’s Senegal on penalties. The Liverpool winger will be hoping to do one better in this year’s tournament.
3. Serhou Yadaly Guirassy – Guinea, VFB Stuttgart
With seventeen goals in twelve Bundesliga games, and only second behind Harry Kane in the league’s goalscoring charts, Guirassy will be one to watch in Ivory Coast next year as they face Cameroon, Gambia and Senegal in Group C.
4. Victor Osimhen – Nigeria, Napoli
8th in the Ballon d’Or rankings, and carting home the African Player of the Year award, Osimhen has enjoyed a stellar year in his career, and is set to bring the success home to take the Super Eagles all the way. The 24-year-old couldn’t do much back in 2021 after picking up an injury but is primed to lead Peseiro’s men to glory in Ivory Coast.
5. Mohammed Kudus – Ghana, West Ham United
With six goals in fifteen games for David Moyes’s side, the Ghanaian midfielder has found his stride in the English top flight after securing a move away from Ajax. The Black Stars, with Kudus on the flanks, pose one of the greatest attacking threats in the competition.
6.Victor Boniface – Nigeria, Bayer 04 Leverkusen
Arguably the biggest football revelation to the Nigerian fans in 2023, Boniface made his debut for the Super Eagles in their 6-0 win over Sao Tome and Principe and has hit top form in Europe, winning the Bundesliga Rookie of the Month award four consecutive times. Set to pair with Osimhen in attack for the Super Eagles, Boniface is one who can make his mark in the tournament next month.
7. Abdul Fatawu Issahaku – Ghana, Leicester City
Fatawu joined Leicester on loan from Sporting Lisbon at the start of the season to get playing time and has quickly formed a great partnership with Patson Daka and Stephy Mavididi for Leicester. He has scored twice and set up five goals for the Foxes, proving that his inclusion in the provisional squad of the Black Stars is no fluke.
8. Yves Bissouma – Mali, Tottenham Hotspur
Bissouma started just ten Premier League games last season. Under Ange Postecoglu, the Malian has started fifteen games for Spurs, becoming a central figure in the midfield of the Lilywhites. A big figure in his national team, the 27-year-old is set to dazzle in the AFCON tournament.
9. Pape Mata Sarr – Senegal, Tottenham Hotspur
At just 21, Sarr has become an integral part of the Senegal midfield. The defensive midfielder already has seventeen caps under his belt and has started fourteen of eighteen Tottenham’s Premier League games. A good first-phase player and very comfortable on the ball, Sarr’s efforts in the centre of the park will be crucial as The Lions of Teranga look to defend their AFCON crown.
10. Patson Daka – Zambia, Leicester City
The 25-year-old missed most of the first of the season due to an injury, but returned as the perfect Christmas gift for Leicester City fans. Daka has scored four goals in his last four games, and looks to have hit form at the right time for the Zambians as they look to spring up a surprise next year.