African Players to Watch in Russia 2018 By Abiola Durodola
Football Mundial is on the horizon. The world cup is the dream of scores of player all over the world as payers from different countries and continent strive to make their mark in the gathering of world finest player.
Over the years African teams have been at loggerhead with European and America counterparts in the quest to claim the well-regarded competition, but the best to come out of the continent is the quarterfinal appearance of the Black Stars of Ghana in which they lost to Uruguayans in a breathtaking encounter that was smudged by the last minute handball
In this piece, we dig into the five teams that have sealed their place in the competition and pick five of the continents best who are likely to propel their team to success in Russia. With the throngs of unequalled talents Africa is endowed with, these assiduous and persistent player top the list of football fans all over the continent as they anticipate FIFA World cup.
These players who grew from the streets of Cairo to the Jos Plateau, to the busy side road of Senegal have horned their skills in the round leather game and ply them in the top European leagues. In no particular order, we take a look at some of these players.
Since his big move to the foxes last summer, Ndidi has grown to become one of the respected defensive midfielders in the English Premier League. He is currently the 2nd most valuable African player in the Premier League according to CIES.
Ndidi who started his career at Gent moved to England in 2016/2017 season as a replacement for Ngolo Kante who opted for the Blues after winning the league with Leicester City. The former U20 international has grown to become a powerful force in the midfield has become the player that won most tackles in EPL in his first season. He was also named the Foxes young player for the just concluded season.
Ndidi made his international debut for the Super Eagles in 2017 and has since become an important member of the team and fans favourite. Many will hope to see the youngster marshal the Nigeria midfield alongside veteran Mikel Obi as the Super Eagles kick off their quest at the World Cup against Croatia on June 16 before facing Iceland and Argentina of June 22 and 26 respectively.
Chelsea winger, 27 years old Victor Moses who won the English FA Cup with the London side will look forward a great time in Russia after putting a fine performance during the qualification stage that saw him score vital goals to help Nigeria qualify.
Moses begins life as a professional footballer in England with Championship side Crystal Palace. Moses performance for Palace caught the attention of the hierarchy at Wigan Athletic where he later made his Premier League debut in 2010. After two years, his game had improved to the extent that European champions Chelsea were interested, and he signed for them in the summer of 2012. Despite ten goals in all competitions during his first season, he spent his second season on loan to Liverpool, his third on loan at Stoke City and his fourth on loan at West Ham United. Since his return back into the Blues fold, Moses became a regular feature for the blues under Antonio Conte and eventually won the English Premier League in 2017.
Moses is alongside Arsenal’s Iwobi are believe to be the top players to lead the super eagles to a successful campaign in the world cup finals having played a vital role during the qualification process.
The talisman who plies his trade in England top the list of players who will don the jersey of Senegal national team at the FIFA World Cup finals in Russia. Sadio Mane who recently sent 300 jerseys of Liverpool FC to his home country will be the poster boy for the Senegal team who are looking forward to improving on their last performance at the world cup finals.
He is one of the few African players who had a good time with clubs in Europe featuring in almost all the matches played by his club – Liverpool. He moved from the Saints to Liverpool in 2016 and has since become an integral member of the Liverpool team.
The Senegalese will set the ball rolling against the Polish on June 19 before meeting Japan on June 24 and rounding their group match off with Colombia on June 28. All Eyes will be on the Liverpool Striker who was on the scoring sheet for Liverpool in the 3-1 loss to Real Madrid during the UEFA Champions League final.
The Egyptian sensation who caught the media attention after his stellar performance for Liverpool in the just-concluded season. The Egyptian international sealed a $36.9 million from the Italian capital last summer and has since then surged to become one of the most sought-after footballers in the world presently having put in an exceptional performance for the Reds in his debut season.
He broke the EPL most goals in a season after scoring thirty-two premier league goal for the Merseyside team. His record-breaking season has become a talking point among football pundit with many expecting more from the Egyptian next season before he can stand comparison with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Salah became the first African Player to be named FWA Player of the year in the 70-year history of the coveted award in English football.
The Egyptian helped his country qualified for their third World Cup after missing out in the competition for twenty-eight years. He scored a last minute penalty against Congo to ensure Egypt’s qualification to the 2019 World Cup.
His world cup hopes suffered a setback when he was stretched out in the UEFA Champions League final after a collision with Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos. Salah was said to have had a shoulder injury which will keep him out of action for three to four weeks. However, all indications showed that he will be on the plane to Russia after team physio confirmed that he will be fit for the world cup.
Egypt is in the same group with host Russia and will hope to start the competition on a good note against South Americans – Uruguay on June 15, before locking horns with hosts Russia on June 19 and Saudi Arabia on June 25. There are high expectations that he might feature for his country in their second game with Russia.