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African All Stars

World Cup breakout stars: Who could emerge from Africa?

4:42 AM GMT+4 17/11/2022
Ciss, Ndiaye, Samed
Which of the continent’s lesser-known players could steal the show in Qatar?
  • Iliman Ndiaye

    Iliman Ndiaye

    Senegal certainly need a new hero following Sadio Mane’s devastating injury setback, with the Bayern Munich superstar seemingly only set to be available for the knockout stages in a best-case scenario.

    One player who could come into Aliou Cisse’s starting XI is Sheffield United’s Ndiaye, who boasts a unique profile within the Senegal squad and could be the best bet to replace Mane’s guile and inventiveness.

    Comfortable as a centre-forward or just off the main striker, Ndiaye has had a hand in 11 goals in 21 Championship outings so far this term, and despite only making his Senegal debut in June, could be primed to step into a key role.

  • MF_Salis Abdul Samed

    Salis Abdul Samed

    Uncapped midfielder who should surely have won international honours by now, but found himself overlooked by Otto Addo for the international break earlier this year.

    He’s been influential as Racing Club de Lens have enjoyed a magnificent start to the season—they’re Paris Saint-Germain’s closest challengers in Ligue 1 so far—and deserves his place in the Black Stars squad.

    He may even be primed to take a starting role following the injury to Iddrisu Baba, and while Samed is less defensively adroit than the crocked Real Mallorca man—no one has averaged more fouls in Ligue 1 so far this season—he’s far more comfortable in possession.

  • Christopher Wooh RC LENS

    Christopher Wooh

    While Cameroon’s decision to axe long-standing centre-back Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui was the biggest scandal of the African squad announcements, perhaps the Indomitable Lions made the call knowing that—in Wooh—they have a very able replacement.

    He’s raw, having only made his Cameroon debut in June, but he’s looked comfortable in Ligue 1 with Lens and latterly Stade Rennais, while also featuring in the Europa League.

    Surely destined for great things, it remains to be seen if the World Cup has come too soon for Wooh, although he’ll benefit from working under Rigobert Song, one of Africa’s most legendary central defenders.

    Will the Indomitable Lions coach opt for Wooh or veteran Nicolas Nkoulou to start alongside Jean-Charles Castelletto during the World Cup campaign?

  • MF_Pathe Ciss

    Pathe Ciss

    Africa Cup of Nations winner Saliou Ciss hasn’t made the final cut for Senegal after failing to find new employers since the summer, but his younger brother Pathe will be in contention for the Teranga Lions in Qatar.

    Senegal aren’t short of stout defensive midfielders, but Ciss could be in the best form of any of Cisse’s options in the heart of the park, having enjoyed a strong start to the season with Rayo Vallecano.

    He was part of the side that defeated Real Madrid 3-2 earlier this month, and his presence, aggression and vitality could be big assets to this Lions midfield.

  • Azzedine Ounahi

    Azzedine Ounahi

    A relatively new arrival in the fold, Ounahi was introduced to the team during the latter stages of Vahid Halilhodzic’s tenure, and has kept his place under Walid Regragui.

    He’s likely to partner the more defensive-minded Sofyan Amrabat in a hard-working, combative, but technically proficient midfield, and the duo will be charged with wresting control away from Belgium and Croatia during the Group F crunch matches.

    Ounahi’s battle with Luka Modric and Marcelo Brozovic should be particularly tasty, but the 22-year-old can also contribute in the final third as well—witness his two goals against the Democratic Republic of Congo as the Atlas Lions qualified for the Mondiale.

  • Aissa Laidouni

    Aissa Laidouni

    Midfield all-rounder who has a terrific engine and should be a key cog in the Tunisia midfield alongside Ellyes Skhiri.

    His primary role will be as a midfield destroyer, but he offers much more than that, and after excelling in Hungary and continental competitions with Ferencvaros, should be primed for a transfer to one of Europe’s biggest leagues next year.

    Laidouni could have represented Algeria or France, but Tunisia have been the beneficiaries of his services since he made his international debut in March 2021.