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Editorials, Sports

AFCON 2023: 5 Players To Watchout For

At AFCON 2023, the performances of these youngsters will shape the narrative of the tournament, adding excitement to the football spectacle.

  • Toyosi Afolayan
  • 11th January 2024

The anticipation for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) is reaching its peak as the continent’s football powerhouses gear up for the prestigious tournament, which kicks off on January 13. After rescheduling the tournament from last January, Africa’s top teams are preparing to compete for continental success in what promises to be a fascinating month of international action.


BOUNCE has singled out five players who are expected to light up AFCON 2023, each poised to make a significant impact on the competition either as a debutant or an impact for the national team at AFCON for the first time.


Ousmane Diomande (Ivory Coast):


As the host nation, Ivory Coast aims to secure its second AFCON title, and among its standout players is the promising Ousmane Diomande. The Sporting Lisbon defender, just 20 years old, has captured attention with stellar performances in Portugal’s Primera Liga. Diomande’s impressive stats, including a high pass completion rate and defensive prowess, make him a player to watch.



Diomande ranks second in Portugal’s Primera Liga this season for touches (1165) and pass completion (91%), while ranking third for passes into the final third (94), percentage of dribblers tackled (83.3%), and progressive carrying distance (2342).


Sporting set a release clause of €80 million (£69 million) in the 20-year-old’s contract when signing Diomande, a figure top clubs are reportedly already prepared to meet. He will form a strong axis at center-back alongside Roma’s Evan Ndicka for the host nation.


Serhou Guirassy (Guinea):


Guinea’s Serhou Guirassy has become a sought-after talent in the football world. The 27-year-old striker’s exceptional goal-scoring form for Stuttgart has attracted the interest of top European clubs. Guirassy, with 17 goals in 14 league appearances, will aim to shine on the international stage as Guinea navigates a challenging group featuring Senegal, Cameroon, and Gambia.



The forward represented France up to the U-20 level before declaring for the country of his parents. He has scored three goals for Guinea since his debut in 2022.


Victor Osimhen (Nigeria):


Nigeria enters the the the AFCON with a formidable frontline, led by star striker Victor Osimhen. The Napoli forward cemented his place among the world’s elite by securing the 8th spot in the prestigious Ballon d’Or rankings. His remarkable season with Napoli, where he clinched the Serie A title and became the first African to win the Capocannoniere Award, solidified his status as a footballing force.  Osimhen was nominated for several awards after his remarkable displays for Napoli in the 2022–2023 season.


The 25-year-old has scored seven goals and assisted two in the ongoing 2023–2024 season in the Italian top flight.



He made his debut for Nigeria in 2017 and has since won 27 caps, scoring 20 goals. If Victor can stay fit, Nigeria will be tough to stop.


Mohamed Amoura (Algeria):


Algeria’s Mohamed Amoura, nurtured by Union Saint-Gilloise, is set to make a mark in Europe’s big leagues. The 23-year-old forward, Algeria’s leading scorer in AFCON qualification, boasts an impressive goal-scoring record, averaging a goal every 66 minutes in the Jupiler Pro League. Amoura’s versatility across the frontline adds a dynamic element to Algeria’s attacking lineup.



The Belgium-based youngster has found the back of the net 13 times in just nine starts this season. The diminutive forward can operate across the frontline and will hope to link up with Riyad Mahrez in the final third.


Bilal El Khannouss (Morocco):


Morocco’s Bilal El Khannouss has drawn attention from Europe’s leading clubs, establishing himself as one of the nation’s brightest talents. The 19-year-old midfielder,,, voted the best u-23 player in the Belgian Pro League, brings a forward-thinking approach to the game. El Khannouss’s proficiency in progressive passes, tackles, and shot-creating actions positionsss him as a key asset in Morocco’s pursuit of AFCON glory.



Among all players in the 14 leading leagues outside of Europe’s top five divisions, the teenager ranks in the 97th percentile for progressive passes per game (8.73) and ranks highly among his positional peers for attempted passes (95th percentile), tackles (88th percentile),,, and shot-creating actions (88th percentile).


At the AFCON 2023, the performances of these standout players will undoubtedly shape the narrative of the tournament, adding excitement and anticipation to the football spectacle.

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