IN PICS | Five young African players who have potential to catch the eye in Russia

14 June 2018 - 14:55 By Mahlatse Mphahlele
Real Madrid's Spanish-Moroccan defender Achraf Hakimi (L) celebrates a goal with Real Madrid's French forward Karim Benzema (C) and Real Madrid's Spanish defender Nacho Fernandez during the Spanish league football match between Real Madrid and Celta Vigo at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on May 12, 2018.
Real Madrid's Spanish-Moroccan defender Achraf Hakimi (L) celebrates a goal with Real Madrid's French forward Karim Benzema (C) and Real Madrid's Spanish defender Nacho Fernandez during the Spanish league football match between Real Madrid and Celta Vigo at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on May 12, 2018.
Image: Benjamin CREMEL / AFP

Among the 32 teams that will be vying for the ultimate prize in world football‚ there will be five African teams in the form of Egypt‚ Tunisia‚ Morocco‚ Senegal and Nigeria.

We look at top five African players who have the potential to catch the eye in Russia.

1) Achraf Hakimi (Morocco‚ Real Madrid)

Former Real coach Zinedine Zidane had such confidence in the 19-year old right-back that he did not have a problem selling established Brazil international Danilo to Manchester City last season.

He is slowly establishing himself in the Real side and he is going to be vital for Morocco if they are going to make a statement in Russia.

Real Madrid's Spanish-Moroccan defender Achraf Hakimi celebrates after scoring his team's fifth goal during the Spanish league football match between Real Madrid and Sevilla at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid on December 9, 2017.
Real Madrid's Spanish-Moroccan defender Achraf Hakimi celebrates after scoring his team's fifth goal during the Spanish league football match between Real Madrid and Sevilla at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid on December 9, 2017.
Image: PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP

2) Alex Iwobi (Nigeria‚ Arsenal)

He has blown hot and cold during Arsene Wenger’s turbulent last few years at the Emirates Stadium but there is no doubt about his potential.

At just 20 years‚ the winger‚ who is related to Nigerian legend Austin “Jay-Jay” Okocha‚ will be one of the first names on coach Gernot Rohr’s starting eleven in Russia.

Nigeria's midfielder Alex Iwobi runs with the ball during the International friendly football match between England and Nigeria at Wembley stadium in London on June 2, 2018.
Nigeria's midfielder Alex Iwobi runs with the ball during the International friendly football match between England and Nigeria at Wembley stadium in London on June 2, 2018.
Image: Ian KINGTON / AFP

3) Ismaila Sarr (Senegal‚ Rennes)

He is a highly-rated left-sided attacking midfielder who has already drawn lofty comparisons to countryman Sadio Mane and it is not a surprise that his current club Rennes paid Metz £15m for his services last year.

With scouts expected to descend on Russia‚ the 20-year old may find himself moving to a bigger club if he dishes out impressive performances at the tournament.

Rennes' French midfielder Sanjin Prcic reacts after scoring a goal during the French L1 football match between Rennes (SRFC) and Troyes (ESTAC), on February 24, 2018, at the Roazhon Park in Rennes, northwestern France.
Rennes' French midfielder Sanjin Prcic reacts after scoring a goal during the French L1 football match between Rennes (SRFC) and Troyes (ESTAC), on February 24, 2018, at the Roazhon Park in Rennes, northwestern France.
Image: JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER / AFP

4) Saif-Eddine Khaoui (Tunisia‚ ES Troyes)

The Carthage Eagles are missing their star man and top scorer in qualifying‚ Youssef Msakni.

He was ruled out of the tournament after tearing a cruciate ligament in April and most of the attacking responsibilities will fall on the 23-year old Khaoui.

Tunisian Saif-Eddine Khaoui eyes the ball during the friendly football match between Tunisia vs Costa Rica on March 27, 2018 at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice.
Tunisian Saif-Eddine Khaoui eyes the ball during the friendly football match between Tunisia vs Costa Rica on March 27, 2018 at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice.
Image: VALERY HACHE / AFP

5) Ramadan Sobhi (Egypt‚ Stoke)

He was one of the few shining lights for relegated Stoke City last season and it comes as no surprise that he will be staying in the English Premiership after signing a lucrative £5.7m with Huddersfield Town.

The 21-year old made 41 Premier League appearances for the Potters last season after joining from Al Ahly in July 2016.

Egyptian national football team player Ramadan Sobhi attends a training at the Akhmat Arena stadium in Grozny on June 10, 2018, ahead of the Russia 2018 World Cup. Egypt's national football team will use the venue as their base camp training site.
Egyptian national football team player Ramadan Sobhi attends a training at the Akhmat Arena stadium in Grozny on June 10, 2018, ahead of the Russia 2018 World Cup. Egypt's national football team will use the venue as their base camp training site.
Image: KARIM JAAFAR / AFP

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