The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is almost nigh, and what a tournament it promises to be!
It’s the biggest football festival on the planet, so expect to see just as well the biggest stars from every continent take to the pitches in the Middle Eastern country.
From Doha to Ar-Rayyan; to Al Wakrah, Lusail, or Al-Khor, there will be no paucity of some African magic, thanks to the African contingent of Ghana, Cameroon, Morocco, Tunisia, and Senegal who will be flying the continent’s flag
We hope our biggest stars come to the party, but whom and who should one have an eye on in Qatar coming November?
This one could yet be the platform on which Édouard Mendy finally lays down the marker as one of the finest ever to play in his position.
Thrust in between the sticks as Senegal made history in Cameroon earlier this year, the 29-year-old is a late bloomer, and it could be that he gets hold of the biggest prize just before he bows out of the game. Aliou Cissé will be more than willing to let him try again, and for a player who is blessed with an unwavering level of alertness, poise, and agility when faced with the deadliest strikers the game has on offer today, even thwarting the likes of Memphis Depay and Enner Valencia, is one he will relish when the ball gets rolling in the tournament.
Standing at a decent 6 ft. 4″, there is no doubt he’s towering, and just in case you’re thinking he’d be easy to beat say, from efforts placed low to the corner, Mendy has time and again shown himself to be a goalkeeper capable of getting down quick enough, so no one’s getting any easy goal.
There is very little need to say about Sadio Mané’s impact on this Senegal team.
Finesse, precision, lethality: Mane has always come up clutch when his team has needed him most and he surely will be a delight to watch this year. Having orchestrated the Lions to their first-ever continental title, the blistering attacker continues to hunt down a number of club honors with club side Liverpool this term.
If Senegal gets to win it, it is almost certain the success will undoubtedly have stamps of Mane’s influence all over it.
In the midst of an overdue rebuild with some very interesting youngsters who are just learning the ropes of the trade, Ghana might have found its own gem in the shape of Thomas Partey.
The deep-lying Arsenal midfielder is known to play a more expansive role for the Black Stars than he does at the club level, and just like he proved against Nigeria in the qualifier game before getting here, he really can be that dangerous when venturing forward.
He might not have pulled up trees at The Emirates thus far this season, but if there is one player Ghana will be banking on to come up with the goods in a big World Cup game, it is the Krobo Odumase-born native That said, how he fares against the likes of Bruno Fernandes and Rodrigo Bentacur in the battle for midfield supremacy in Group H will most probably shape Ghana’s destiny.
It is on Hakimi that anything good revolving around this very enterprising Morocco team is expected to hinge.
Still just 23, the fleet-footed full-back is known to bring with him some brilliant technique on the ball, has pace in bountiful amounts to burn, and also packing a howitzer of a shot on his left foot to boot, Morocco has undoubtedly a player of some quality on their hands going into the competition, never mind he is one of the most coveted defenders in Europe.
The Paris Saint Germaine ace will be tasked with leading his team, and do not be surprised to see him come up with magic every now and then during the Atlas Lions adventure in Qatar.
Vincent Aboubakar is expected to lead the attack for what is realistically a well-drilled Cameroonian side, one of the best the West African nation has had in years.
One player that always looks to have a goal in him, the Al-Nassr striker could very much prove a handful for defenders at the tournament. He has time and again proved to be one of the best Africa has on offer in his position, and there is a reason he scoped the top marksman prize at the last AFCON competition.
Afford him even the smallest of time and space, and Aboubakar having always proved to be at the top of his craft for this team, will punish any lapse.