European club sides benefit from the talents and skills of African players in their teams. Not many times do these players have the opportunity to wear the national team colours or even play on their home soil. But that’s what is beautiful about the world cup. First, the qualification matches are played on home soil, then at the world cup, the players also get to represent their countries. At the Mundial this year, Africa is looking to make her self-proud. And these are some of the players with the skill to make this so.
Mohammed Salah – Liverpool/ Egypt
This guy is the best player on the continent as far as football is concerned. He’s currently the African footballer of the year. And he’s been tipped to win it two more times by certain folks, well two years is not so far away, so we’ll see. Mo. Salah plays for Liverpool and has been very instrumental in their being third on the English Premier League log. This Liverpool winger is also the highest goal scorer in the EPL this season with 30 goals. Salah was very important in helping the Pharaoh’s of Egypt qualify with one match to go. Hector Cuper will be looking to this left-footed winger to provide moments of inspiration to help the team advance to the next round.
Sadio Mane – Liverpool/ Senegal
At the opposite end of the spectrum to Mo. Salah when compared skin tone wise, Sadio’s been very instrumental in Salah’s success this season at Anfield. This pacy forward might just be what Senegal needs to see them qualify out of a very tough world cup group. The 25-year-old due to injury hasn’t done much in recent times for the Teranga Lions. If his performance at Anfield is to be considered then coach Aliou Cisse has a veritable weapon to be used against his opponents come June 2018.
Wilfred Ndidi – Leister City/Nigeria
Known for his high work rate and blinding runs across midfield, this young man is a player to watch at the world cup. Arguably he’s had the best season so far amongst the other Nigerian’s in the English Premier League and perhaps Europe in general. Ndidi is also a versatile player; originally he was played as a central defender. At Leicester City though, he plays more of a defensive midfielder’s role. He’s said to be the new N’golo Kante of Leicester and perhaps another Yaya Toure. The Super Eagles could use all the help they could get in the midfield. It’s left to see how Gernot Rohr will utilize this powerhouse midfielder at the Mundial.
Keita Balde Diao – Monaco/Senegal
There are a number of fast players in the Senegalese national team. And they may be a handful for their opponents. One of them is Keita Balde, he’s Sadio Mane’s partner in Senegal. Together they are a formidable force. The Monaco forward got his football training in Spain at the Barcelona youth academy, he’s of dual nationality, but decided to play for his father’s country, Senegal. Keita is doing a good job replacing Kylian Mbappe at Monaco and there are talks of him joining Liverpool to replace Coutinho. We can’t wait to see this 23-year old at the world cup this summer in Russia.
Hakim Ziyech – Ajax/Morocco
A lot of Dutch football lovers are now regretting the fact that Hakim Ziyech chose to play for Morroco over the more successful Netherlands. Some reason it was because of Marco Van Basten, the Oranje coach at that time. Hakim has been compared to Fabregas and other powerhouse midfielders. What he lacks in speed, he more than makes up for in defence penetrating passes, great dribbling skills and set piece taking. He’s the playmaker for Ajax, a Dutch top flight club. And the Desert Lions will be relying on him heavily to better their performance at their last world cup which was 20 years ago.
Kalidou Koubibaly – Napoli/Senegal
Kalidou is a central defender from Senegal, very versatile at the defence and also good in the air. He plays in Serie A and has been touted to be one of the best defenders in the league. Though large and powerful, he has an elegance and some sort of quickness that’s not expected of someone his size. Not only can Kalidou play the centre-back, he can also be put to good use on the flank and in pushing attack too. The Teranga Lions will benefit immensely from what this 26-year-old brings to the table.