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A Dozen African Feet, Ready To Shake The World

Published 8 years ago
By Forbes Africa

From the deep well of Africa springs forth a steady stream of talent. In Europe, these shining African stars, with quick boots and level heads, dazzle the world.

Certainly it is much easier for youngsters these days. When I went over to Belgium, in the mid-1980s, I felt like a pioneer.

Now it is commonplace to find a player from Africa in every major league. That is great for the development of the game on the continent.

There are a number of young stars from Africa who are set to shake up the world this season.

These are my super six from Africa.

VILLACH, AUSTRIA – JULY 27: Victor Wanyama of Southampton and Veli Kavlak of Bestikas compete for the ball during the preseason friendly match between Southampton FC and Besiktas Istanbul at Stadion Villach on July 27, 2013 in Villach, Austria. (Photo by Sebastian Patter/Getty Images)

Egyptian striker Mohamed Salah looks as though he has all the attributes to be a top international striker. He has scored 15 goals in 21 starts for Egypt and is joint top-scorer in the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers as they enter the final round of group matches this month. The striker plays for FC Basel in Switzerland, but is being tracked by a number of top European teams. His reputation was enhanced when he was named CAF’s Most Promising African Talent of the Year for 2012.

Then there is Kenyan midfielder, Victor Wanyama, who signed for English top-flight side Southampton. He was at Glasgow Celtic last season and scored the winning goal against Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League. That is some way to announce your talent to the world and I think he could eventually take the English Premier League by storm. It will be a tough transition for him in a league were the football is played at 100 miles per hour. His previous stints in Sweden, Belgium and Scotland will have done little to prepare him for that, but if he is given the right support by the coaching staff and time to adapt by the fans, he could be a real hit.

Wanyama will join Zambian Emmanuel Mayuka, who had a slow start to his career at Southampton last season. I believe Mayuka, if given the chance, could make his name in England this season. His record at Young Boys in Switzerland, where he scored 32 goals in 55 games, was simply outstanding. Quality always shines through.

Richmond Boakye, who was born in Agogo, in Ashanti, and began his career with Bechem United, is an international for Ghana. He is a star of the side that finished third at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Turkey. He is worth an estimated €6 million and is likely to play quite a few games for Juventus this season. It is likely to be tough for Boakye to break into a side that has won the Serie A title in Italy for the last two seasons, but he does offer an alternative to the other forwards: Carlos Tévez, Fernando Llorente and Fabio Quagliarella. Don’t expect him to feature right away, but as the season wears on he should get his chance.

Boakye’s teammate in the Ghana junior set-up, Ebenezer Assifuah, was top scorer at the Under-20 World Cup with six goals and it will be interesting to see how his career progresses. He is still playing at home in Dansoman, Accra, with Liberty Professionals, but surely not for long.

KAYSERI, TURKEY – JUNE 27: Ebenezer Assifuah of Ghana (L) in action during the FIFA U-20 World Cup Group A match between Ghana and USA at Kadir Has Stadium on June 27, 2013 in Kayseri, Turkey. (Photo by Steve Bardens-FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Nigerian defender Kenneth Omeruo, born in Kaduna, showed that he is a star in the making at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, earlier this year, followed by fine showings at the FIFA Confederations Cup in June. He will return to his club, Chelsea, this season after spending last term on loan at Dutch Eredivisie side ADO Den Haag. Here, he could slot into the right-back position.

Looking beyond the African continent, there are a number of young stars who could become global icons this season.

Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, a superstar at home in Brazil, will test his ability at Barcelona. The FIFA Confederations Cup confirmed his status as arguably the biggest young talent on the planet. His next challenge is to form a partnership with Lionel Messi, a player with whom he is compared. I think it will be exciting to see them play together.

Stephan El Shaarawy, who has an Egyptian father and Italian mother, revealed himself to be a star in the making at AC Milan last season and broke into the Italian national team. In Italy, they view him as the next Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. Again, time will tell.

Mario Goetze’s move from Borussia Dortmund to Bayern Munich is a top purchase from the European champions and he should find a coach in Pep Guardiola, who will appreciate his playmaking skills.

Bayern paid €37 million (R4.9 million) for his services, making him the most expensive German player ever, but it could be money well spent on the winger, aged 21, who has years of improvement ahead of him.

Isco, who was signed by Real Madrid from Malaga in the last transfer window, is a player in the mold of Andres Iniesta and arguably the hottest property in Spanish football at the moment. He has made his debut for the senior national side and at Real Madrid. They believe he can have the same impact as the great Zinedine Zidane.

All of these are young players with great promise, but in truth they have achieved nothing yet and it is only with hard work and discipline that they will truly reach their potential.

Football history is littered with stories of great youngsters who showed prodigious talent in their late teens, but fell by the way side by becoming more interested in what happened off the pitch, rather than concentrating on their career on it. As each year goes by, the standard of the game is improving. The current generation of players certainly have a lot a lot of responsibility on their young shoulders. Responsibility to maintain and enhance the beauty of the beautiful game.

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Related Topics: #Europe, #FIFA World Cup, #League, #Midfielder, #Mohamed Salah, #September 2013, #Striker, #Victor Wanyama.