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African Nations Championship: Which stars made their name at the Chan?

00:42 BST 28/04/2022
Ejike Uzoenyi of Nigeria
GOAL remember six African football stars who broke onto the scene at the tournament

  • Yves Bissouma - Mali vs Equatorial Guinea

    Yves Bissouma

    The current Brighton & Hove Albion midfielder—and rumoured transfer target for some of the world’s biggest clubs—burst onto the scene at the Chan way back in 2016.

    He made a key impact for Mali at that edition of the competition, coming off the bench to net a late winner against the Ivory Coast in the semi-final in Kigali.

    However, the Eagles weren’t able to lift the crown, as they were dispatched 3-0 by the Democratic Republic of Congo in the final.

    No player from that Chan has achieved a higher status than the then-AS Real Bamako man, however, who was part of the Mali squad at the recent Africa Cup of Nations.

  • Meschak Elia of DR Congo

    Elia Meschak

    Also featuring at the 2016 event was Congolese forward Meschak, who netted twice in the final against Mali—opening the scoring in the 29th minute before doubling the Leopards’ lead just after the hour mark.

    He won Player of the Tournament in Rwanda, and shared the Golden Boot, but—perhaps due to his relatively diminutive stature—he took his time to break into the European game.

    He finally left Tout Puissant Mazembe for Swiss side Young Boys in 2020, and has featured regularly for the full DRC side.

  • Dinamo Hajduk Soudani 1. HNL 12072015

    Hillal Soudani

    An Arab Cup winner with Algeria last year, Soudani may have missed out on the 2019 Afcon success, but he’s been one of the most familiar faces in a Fennecs side that achieved such great things under Djamel Belmadi.

    The powerful forward has won silverware in three separate European countries—including four consecutive Croatian titles—and was part of the Algeria side at the Brazil World Cup in 2014.

    He was joint top scorer at the 2011 Chan, as the Fennecs finished fourth, and set him on his way to a decade-long career in Europe.

  • Nayef Aguerd of Morocco.

    Nayef Aguerd

    Currently considered one of Africa’s finest defenders in the world today, Aguerd has come a long way in a short amount of time, having gone from the Moroccan Botola to the Champions League in a handful of years.

    A Chan winner with Morocco on homesoil in 2018, he switched from FUS Rabat to Dijon later that year, and tasted the UCL last season after moving to Rennes.

    One of the most impressive centre-backs to strut his stuff at the Afcon earlier this year, Aguerd has been heavily linked with a move to West Ham United since last season.

  • Ayoub El Kaabi of Hatayspor.

    Ayoub El Kaabi

    Another star of the Morocco team of 2018, El Kaabi was the top scorer at that tournament, and set the record for the most goals bagged in a single edition with a whopping nine strikes.

    His aggressive, predatory work in the final third was critical to Morocco’s title success, and it subsequently earned El Kaabi a spot in the Atlas Lions’ World Cup squad later that year.

    Despite rumours linking him with a move to Europe, the hitman opted for China—and Hebei China Fortune—and is currently in Turkey after time spent back in his homeland with Wydad Casablanca.

    El Kaabi started for Morocco at the last Afcon, and is a contender to lead the line for the Atlas Lions in Qatar later this year.

  • Ejike Uzoenyi Bidvest Wits 22022017

    Ejike Uzoenyi

    Another player whose height counted against him when it came to transitioning from Africa to Europe, 5’6 Uzoenyi has twice attempted to make it across the Mediterranean—with Stade Rennais and FK Zvijezda 09—but twice returned to the continent promptly.

    Nonetheless, the ex-Mamelodi Sundowns and Bivest Wits wideman won the MVP at the 2014 Chan, having previously been part of Nigeria’s 2013 Afcon-winning squad.

    He also made Nigeria’s 2014 World Cup squad, only months after inspiring the Super Eagles to bronze at the Chan in South Africa.