African stars in the European Champions League

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These are the African players who have been registered by their clubs to compete in this season’s Champions League group phase and will be keenly followed by fans from across the continent.

Group A

Bayern Munich

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting: The 34-year-old German-born striker has played for Cameroon at three Cup of Nations finals but pointedly sat out the 2017 tournament in a protest and missed out on winners’ medal. He has also been to three World Cups with the Indomitable Lions while was on the losing side in the Champions League when on the books of Paris St Germain in 2020.

Noussair Mazraoui: One of the stars of Morocco’s run to the World Cup semifinals, even though he played out of position on the left instead of the right, having been restored to the side by coach Walid Regragui after falling out with the previous coach. He is Dutch-born and came through the ranks at Ajax Amsterdam, before signing a four season deal with Bayern last year.

Bouna Sarr: A member of Senegal’s winning team at the last Cup of Nations finals, he moved to Bayern from French club Olympique de Marseille in 2020 on a four year deal but has seen very little game time and is yet to play a single Champions League match for the Bundesliga champions.

FC Copenhagen

Elias Achouri: Paris-born striker but with Tunisia and Algerian heritage who has won six caps for Tunisia over the last 14 months. Began his career at St Etienne and has played at clubs in Portugal and at Viborg in Denmark before moving to FCK at the start of last season.

Khouma Babacar: He won two caps for Senegal in 2017 but has never been a real part of the national team squad despite a lengthy career in Europe. Hde was 14-yrear-old when he arrived in Italy and has spent most of his career at the likes of Fiorentina, Sassuolo and Lecce.

Galatasaray

Cedric Bakambu: Former French junior international who switched to the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2015 and is now their key attacker as they head to the Cup of Nations finals. He moved to Galatasaray in June after scoring 18 goals for Greek club Olympiakos last season.

Wilfried Zaha: Crystal Palace desperately wanted the Ivory Coast winger to stay but Zaha was keen for a new adventure after 13 seasons at Selhurst Park. Born in France but brought up in London, Zaha played for England in two friendlies before changing his sporting nationality.

Hakim Ziyech: The Dutch-born =winger was an unused substitute when Chelsea beat Manchester City 1-0 in Porto to win the 2021 Champions League. He also made his mark in the competition when he was at Ajax Amsterdam. A major part of Morocco’ success at the World Cup in Qatar last year.

Manchester United

Sofyan Amrabat: The tireless midfielder is Dutch born but a Morocco international, and another of the World Cup heroes from last year, and was at Feyenoord before moving to Serie A, playing last season at Fiorentina where he helped them to the Europa Conference League final. He secured a last gasp loan deal move to Old Trafford in the last hours of the transfer window.

Andre Onana: The Cameroon goalkeeper returned to national team duty last week after his bust-up with coach Rigobert Song saw him sent home from the World Cup last year. Onana was in last season’s Champions League final with Inter Milan but ended up on the losing side and has also had experience in the competition with previous club Ajax Amsterdam.

Group B

Arsenal

Mohamed Elneny: The dreadlock Egyptian midfielder underwent knee surgery in January and has not played since but is reportedly back at training. He first arrived in England from Swiss club Basle in 2015.

Thomas Partey: The Black Stars midfield maestro is not expected to make his comeback from a groin injury before next month and will likely miss out the first group games for the Gunners. When he was at Atletico Madrid he featured in the 2017 Champions League semifinal against neighbours Real Madrid.

PSV Eindhoven

Ismael Saibari: Morocco striker who scored two goals for PSV in the playoff tie against Glasgow Rangers to ensure they qualified for the Champions League group phase. He was born in Spain, grew up in Belgium but started playing in the Netherlands but has helped Morocco’s under-23 side qualify for next year’s Olympic Games.

Racing Lens

Massadio Haidara: French-born left back who spent five years at Newcastle United before moving to Lens in 2018. Before committing to play for Mali, he had previously won caps at under-21 level for France.

Namplys Mendy: Freshly signed from Leicester City, where he was cast aside over the last two seasons and saw little game time. At the same time he proved to be the midfield mainstay for Senegal and was in the side that won the last Cup of Nations finals.

Yannick Pandor: The 22-year-old goalkeeper who made his Comoros Islands debut in June. He is from the large Comorian community in Marseille but has come through the ranks at lens, where is still the third choice goalkeeper.

Salis Abdul Samed: Ghana’s defensive midfielder who won his first cap just before the last World Cup in Qatar and is now a Black Stars regular. He was an academy player in Ghana before being signed by Clermont Foot, moving to Lens last season and helping them to finish second in Ligue 2.

Morgan Guilavogui: Guilavogui is the brother of the French international footballer Josuha Guilavogui. But he has committed to Guinea and played for them at the last Cup of Nations finals.

Sevilla

Youssef En-Nesyri: The gangly but prolific centre forward scored vital goals for Morocco at last year’s World Cup and has tasted success in European club competition with Sevilla too, twice winning the Europa League and scoring against Manchester City in this season’s Super Cup before his side lost on post-match penalties. He has also found the back of the net in past Champions League campaigns.

Group C

Napoli

Victor Osimhen: The Nigerian ace played some of the season with a face mask after a horror cheek bone injury but still banged in the goals with ease, finishing top scorer in Serie A with 26 goals and helping Napoli to a first title in more than 20 years. He is the highest scoring African player in Serie A with 47 goals, overtaking George Weah’s record.

Andre Frank Zambo Anguissa: Cameroon’s midfield master was at the World Cup with his country last year and picked up a bronze medal at the last Cup of Nations final. At club level in Europe, he was a runner-up in the 2018 Europa League final where his club Marseille were beaten by Atletico Madrid.

Sporting Braga

Almoatasembellah Al-Musrati: The only Libyan involved in their Champions League this season, he has been at Braga for the past four season and played at Vitoria Guimaraes and Rio Ave before that. The 27-year-old made his debut for Libya in 2014 and has almost 50 caps for his country.

Alvaro Djalo: Thew 24-year-old was born in Madrid but his parents hail from Guinea Bissau. He has been in Braga’s set-up since his teenage years and made his debut for the club last season. He has already scored a goal for Braga in this new Portuguese league campaign.

Roger Fernandes: The 17-year-old has been registered for this competition to give him early exposure after his promotion from Braga’s under-19 side. He was born in Guinea Bissau, who will be closely monitoring his progress as they prepare for the Cup of Nations finals in the Ivory Coast in January.

Sikou Niakate: French under-20 international who has switched his allegiance to Mali and made his debut earlier this month in the victory over South Sudan. The centre back is on loan at Braga this season from En Avant Guingamp and played in the playoff win over Panathinaikos of Greece that booked for Braga a spot in the group phase.

Union Berlin

David Datro Fofana: The Ivory Coast born striker is on loan in Germany from Chelsea, who signed him from Molde in Norway. He was the captain of the Ivory Coast under-23 side and when he was still at AFAD he played in the Chan competition.

Aissa Laidouni: Made a massive impression with his passionate play and hard running in midfield in the colours of Tunisia at the World Cup in Qatar last year. Union Berlin signed him one month later from Ferencvaros in Hungary and he helped them to finish fourth in Bundesliga last season.

Group D

Real Sociedad

Umar Sadiq: The striker from Kaduna won a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and has since gone onto win senior camp with the Super Eagles. His time at Roma was mainly spent out on loan and after that he moved to Almeira before Real Sociedad signed him last year.

Hamari Traore: The right back is the captain of Mali, and going with his country to a fourth successive Cup of Nations finals in January. Now 31-years-old, he moved from Bamako to Paris in 2012 and played at Lierse in Belgium and then Stade Reims and Stade Rennes in Ligue 1 before his move to LaLiga this season.

RB Salzburg

Mamady Diambou: One of four Malians at the club, who was on loan at Luzern in Switzerland last season. He is only 20 and recovering from a fractured arm. He was in Mali’s under-23 side that finished third at the African championship in Morocco in July to book a ticket to Paris Olympics

Nene Dorgeles: Spent last season on loan in Belgium where he scored 13 goals for Westerlo. Salzburg had signed him in 2020 but loaned him out and it is only this season that he has finally made his debut for the club, although he is still only 20 years old.

Amankwah Forson: The 20-year-old Ghanaian has been at Salzburg for the last three season but loaned out to get more experience. But he made 13 starts last season on the right wing in the Austrian Bundesliga and will be hoping to get a taste of Champions League football as well.

Sekou Koita: The 23-year-old Mali striker had a six months drug ban two years ago but put that behind him to be a regular as Salzburg won the Austrian Bundesliga last season. He played for Mali at the 2019 Cup of Nations finals but missed the last tournament in Cameroon because of a cruciate ligament rupture.

Karim Konate: Only 19-years-old but the striker already made his debut for the Ivory Coast 18 months ago. He moved to Austria from the ASEC Abidjan academy and last season on loan at Liefering in the Austrian second division scored 15 goals.

Group E

Atletico Madrid

Reinildo: The 29-year-old left back comes from Beira and moved to Benfica in Portugal eight years ago, slowly working his way up the ranks before being signed by Atletico Madrid. He has already appeared in two Champions League campaigns for the LaLiga outfit but not played since February when he suffered a serious knee injury

Feyenoord Rotterdam

Yankuba Minteh: The teenage striker scored a vital goal for Gambia against Congo earlier this month to help them to qualify for the Cup of Nations finals. He was signed ferom Odense in Denmark and has already got a goal for Feyenoord in the Dutch league.

Ramiz Zerrouki: Born in the Netherlands, Zerrouki has spent his entire club career in the country, moving at the start of the season from Twente to join champions Feyenoord. But he chose in 2021 to play for Algeria and was in their squad for the last Africa Cup of Nations finals in Cameroon.

Group F

AC Milan

Samuel Chukwueze: Freshly arrived from Villarreal in a 20-million euro deal, the Nigerian speedster is yet to start for Milan bui played four games as an impact player off the bench. He made his Nigeria debut away against Bafana Bafana at Soccer City in 2018 in an African Cup of Nations qualifier.

Borussia Dortmund

Ramy Bensebaini: Algerian born, the 28-year-old left back had trials at Arsenal, played in Belgium and France before arriving at Dortmund on a free transfer from Borussia Moenchengladbach at the start of the season. He has yet to compete in the Champions League but been part of Algeria’s set up since 2015 and was a Cup of Nations winner in 2019.

Sebastian Haller: Former French junior international who switched his allegiance to the Ivory Coast. Last year he was diagnosed with testicular cancer but has made a fulsome recovery. He scored in every group game of the Champions League for Ajax Amsterdam in 2021.

Paris Saint Germain

Achraf Hakimi: Morocco’s flying fullback was one of the stars of the World Cup last year and at the age of 24 has had a busy club career already, starting with Real Madrid in Spain, then Borussia Dortmund and Inter Milan in Italy and winning back-to-back Ligue 1 titles at PSG. He was only 18 when was involved in Real Madrid’s successful 2017-18 Champions League campaign although he did not make the match day squad for the final win over Liverpool.

Group G

RB Leipzig

Amadou Haidara: One of the stars of the Mali national team and a Bundesliga regular too, where he has helped Leipzig to cup success. He moved from Bamako in 2016 to RB Salzburg in Austria and then moved onto their sister club in Germany.

Red Star Belgrade

Osman Bukari: The 24-year-old made two appearances for Ghana at last year’s World Cup finals in Qatar. He moved to Europe in 2018, first in the Czech Republic and has since also played in Belgium and France before moving to Serbia.

Nasser Djiga: The 20-year-old hails from Bobo-Dioulasso and has already won two caps for Burkina Faso. He plays at centre back and is on loan from Swiss club FC Basle, who had previously loaned him out to Nimes in France. He has yet to make his debut for the Serbian club.

Guelor Kanga: The Gabon international midfielder was previously the subject of a dispute with DR Congo, who claimed he is playing under a false identity. The 33-year-old is in his fourth season at Red Star, for whom he scored 10 goals last season.

Kings Kangwa: The 24-year-old played at Buildcon in Zambia before moving to Arsenal Tula in Russia and is now in his second season at Red Star. Last season, as they won the Serbian title, he scored eight goals and is also a regular for the national team.

Jean-Phillipe Krasso: Forward, who was born in Germany, brought up in France but has won seven caps for the Ivory Coast and will be hoping to be in their squad for Jnauary’s Cup of Nations finals. Krasso moved to Red Star from St Etienne in Ligue 2.

Cherif Ndiaye: Senegalese forward who is 27-years-old and freshly arrived from Turkey, where he played at Adana Demirspor. Ndiaye has no national team experience but competed at clubs in Belgium, Croatia and China.

Peter Olayinka: The Nigerian striker scored 11 goals for Slavia Prague in the Czech league this season and has one goal for his new club in the early stages of the Serbian league campaign. He has four caps for the Super Eagles, having made his debut in a friendly against Brazil in Singapore in 2019.

Young Boys Berne

Mohamed Ali Camara: Tall and imposing centre back from Guinea who is now in his sixth season with the Swiss champions, having won the title four times in the last five years. He played his first game for Guinea in 2018, not long after representing his country at the 2017 U-20 World Cup.

Miguel Chaiwa: The 19-year-old defensive midfielder was capped by Zambia last March and will be hoping to make the squad for the Cup of Nations finals. He made only two starts in the league last sxeaon as the Swiss look to bring him on slowly.

Ebrima Colley: Newly arrived at Young Boys on loan from Atalanta in Italy. He was in Gambia’s squad at the last Cup of Nations finals where they got as far as the quarterfinals. He has also played on loan in Turkey.

Meschak Elia: Democratic Republic of Congo attacker who was a stalwart for TP Mazembe, with whom he twice won the African Confederation Cup in 2016 and 2017. He moved to Switzerland in 2019 and been a league champion three times.

Silvere Ganvoula: Scored for Congo from the penalty spot last week but it was not enough to beat Gambia and qualify of the Cup of Nations finals. He has joined from German Bundesliga club VfL Bochum and gone straight into the starting line-up.

Saidy Janko: Born in Zurich and a former Swiss junior international who switched his allegiance to the Gambia and competed for them at the last Cup of Nations finals. He has had eight previous clubs, including in England, France, Germany, Scotland and Spain

Cheikh Niasse: Born in Senegal but registered as a Frenchman, he first broke through at Lille, playing for them in the Europa League, and also spent a spell on loan in Greece. Young Boys signed him in early 2022 but he is yet to emerge on the radar of Senegal coach Aliou Cisse.

Jean-Pierre Nsame: Striker from Cameroon, who was in the World Cup squad in Qatar last year but did not get any playing time. He scored 21 goals for Young Boys last season as they won the title in Switzerland.

Group H

Porto

Zaidu Sanusi: Nigeria’s first choice left back who helped Porto to the quarterfinals in 2021 where they lost to Chelsea, and to the last 16 in the previous season where Porto were beaten by eventuasl runners-up Inter Milan. He moved to Portugal in 2016, starting first at Gil Vicente.

Royal Antwerp

Alhassan Yusuf: Nigerian striker, 23, who is in his third season with Antwerp and played a role in their surprise championship success in the last campaign. He had previously played in Sweden at Goteborg.

Chidera Ejuke: Signed by Antwerp from Hertha Berlin, who were relegated from the Bundesliga in Germany last season. The much travelled striker has also played at clubs in Norway, the Netherlands and Russia and was in Nigeria’s squad at the last Cup of Nations finals in Cameroon.

Shakhtar Donetsk

Novatus Miroshi: The 21-year-old is a left back who is on loan at the Ukraine champions from Zulte Waregem in Belgium. He is originally from Arusha and left Azam to move to Israel in 2019 for his first taste of European club football. Last week he helped the Taifa Stars qualify for the Cup of Nations finals.

Source:  Mzansi Football

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