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FOOTBALL STARS SET TO MAKE AFRICAN CUP OF NATIONS DEBUT

By Cyrus Bengo

The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations is set to start next month in Ivory Coast The national team coaches are preparing their squads for the tournament Mohammed Kudus leads a number of players set to make their debut

The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations has less than a month to go as the 24 qualified countries prepare their teams for the tournament in Ivory Coast.

The prestigious tournament has in the past unearthed new talents while also giving others the opportunities to shine with their country.

Senegal defied all odds to win the competition in Cameroon, with the likes of Nampalys Mendy and Abdou-Lakhad Diallao tasting success in their maiden appearance.

Nampalys Mendy

Mohammed Kudus, Victor Boniface, Patson Daka and Serhou Guirassy in action for their countries. Credit: @GhanaBlackstars @SuperEagles @FAZ Source: TwitterSports Brief looks at ten African stars who are set to make their debut at the tournament in Ivory Coast next year.

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Victor Boniface – Nigeria The Super Eagles star has taken the German Bundesliga by storm, winning the Rookie of the Month for every month since the start of the new campaign. Boniface has scored 15 goals across all competitions for the Bundesliga leaders this season.

Victor Bornface

The skillful and tricky forward is expected to propel the three-time champions to a potential fourth triumph in Ivory Coast as he makes his first appearance at the competition.

Mohammed Kudus – Ghana The Black Stars of Ghana will rely heavily on the West Ham star following his bright start to life in England. Kudus has been in phenomenal form for the Hammers since joining the club from Ajax. Kudus has scored nine goals across all competitions for the London club.

Mohammed Kudus

The Right to Dream Academy was denied a place at the tournament in Cameroon due to injury, but he is expected to make the trip to the Ivory Coast.

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Lamine Camara – Senegal Currently, the best young player on the continent. Camara will be making his first appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast. Camara was part of the Senegal team that won the Africa Nations Championship, a competition reserved for playing plying their trade on the continent.

He now plays for French outfit FC Metz.  He has made 16 appearances, scored a goal and provided an assist in Ligue 1.

Abdessamad “Abde” Ezzalzouli – Morocco The former Barcelona player rejected the chance to play at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon due to club commitment. Ezzalzouli was fighting for a place in the Barcelona team at that time.

However, a year later, he joined the team for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and was also a member of the U23 team that qualified for the Olympic Games in Paris, starring as Morocco won the tournament. He now plays for Real Betis in La Liga.

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Patson Daka – Zambia Patson Daka is the most experienced among the list of players making their debut at AFCON 2023. The Leicester City forward has made 40 appearances for the Chipolopolo and scored 18 goals for his country.

Patson Daka

However, the 2012 champions’ failure to qualify for the tournament since 2015, has seen the striker fail to make an appearance at the tournament.

Serhou Guirassy – Guinea The Stuttgart striker only decided to play for the country of his parents in 2022, and has since made 12 appearances and scored three goals, helping Guinea qualify for AFCON 2023.

Guirassy has been in prolific form in the Bundesliga, scoring 16 goals in 13 games, making him one of the most sought-after forwards in Europe. He is expected to lead the West African nation in Ivory Coast.

Carlos Beleba – Cameroon The Brighton youngster is yet to make an appearance for the Indomitable Lions but his performances for the English club has prompted Rigobert Song to include him in his squad for the Africa Cup of Nations. The defender could make a huge impact for the five-time African champions.

Carlos Beleba

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Simon Adingra – Ivory Coast A teammate of Baleba at Brighton, Adingra is enjoying his debut season in England with the Seagulls. Adingra was Kudus’ teammate at the Right to Dream Academy and FC Nordsjaelland. He spent a season on loan at Union Saint-Gilloise, where he played alongside Boniface. The talented forward has scored four goals in 16 Premier League matches this season.

Adingra has made four appearances for the AFCON host and could make his debut at the tournament on home soil.

West Ham fan worried over Kudus’ absence for AFCON Earlier, Sports Brief reported that A young West Ham fan, Abel Farey hopes Ghana suffers early AFCON elimination in Ivory Coast.

The Hammers are set to lose star midfielder Mohammed Kudus to the month-long tournament, which begins on January 13, 2024.

Ghana have been drawn in Group B alongside seven-time champions Egypt, Cape Verde and Mozambique.

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