The extent of the African influence on the Premier League in England is no better illustrated than the large number of players from top flight clubs who competed in the last round of Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers over the last week.
A total of 16 saw action as the qualifying competition was settled, saved for Tuesday’s last game in Group C where Cameroon and Burundi clash in Garoua.
The Indomitable Lions must win to avoid the ignominious embarrassment of finishing behind Burundi and Namibia in their group and have Brentford striker Bryan Mbuemo to lead the line and Manchester United’s Andre Onana keeping goal.
Here is SuperSport.com’s exclusive look at how the Africans based in the EPL fared for their countries:
Simon Adingra (Ivory Coast): The new Brighton & Hove Albion signing, who has come across from their satellite club Union Saint Gilloise in Belgium, was given his first start in the Ivorian line-up as they beat Lesotho 1-0 in the last of the Cup of Nations Group H games.
Ole Aina (Nigeria): The London-born fullback is back in English football, having signed for Nottingham Forest from Torino in Italy and helped the Super Eagles complete their qualifying campaign with a 6-0 home win over Sao Tome e Principe. The 26-year-old is product of Chelsea.
Rayan Ait-Nouri (Algeria): The Wolverhampton Wanderers defender made only his second start for Algeria, after switching his allegiance from France, and helped keep a clean sheet in the 0-0 draw with Tanzania, although it had been expected the 2019 African champions would win easily at home.
Taiwo Awoniyi (Nigeria): The burly striker has been in hot form for Forest with three goals in four Premier League games and continued that at international level where he netted one of the six goals that Nigeria scored against hapless Sao Tome e Principe. It was his second goal for Nigeria.
Jordan Ayew (Ghana): The Crystal Palace striker will be heading to his sixth Cup of Nations finals after playing a full 90 minutes in the 2-1 home win over the Central African Republic, which qualified the Black Stars at the top of Group E.
Calvin Bassey (Nigeria): The Fulham defender got sent off against Arsenal last month but there was never any chance of that happening again in action for his national team as they romped home against tiny Sao Tome e Principe. Bassey is freshly arrived at Fulham from Ajax Amsterdam.
Said Benrahma (Algeria): The West Ham United winger was brought on for the last 20 minutes of the Group F clash in Annaba but could not change Algeria’s fortunes as they were held to a goalless draw by Tanzania and lost their 100 per cent record in the qualifiers.
Yves Bissouma (Mali): There have been rave reviews for the new midfield combination at Tottenham Hotspur between Bissouma and James Maddison but Mali coach Eric Chelle went with a second string side in the qualifier against South Sudan and Bissouma was only brought on as a second half replacement in the 4-0 victory.
Willy Boly (Ivory Coast): After four successive games for Forest, Boly was given a rest and allowed to sit on the bench against Lesotho in the Cup of Nations qualifier but is likely to line up for Tuesday’s friendly against Mali. Boly is in his seventh season in the Premier League.
Samy Chouchane (Tunisia): The Paris-born midfielder is only 20-years-old and slowly being brought through the ranks at both Brighton & Hove Albion as well as Tunisia, where he sat on the bench for the 3-0 win over Botswana which saw the North Africans finish top of Group J. It was the first senior call-up for Chouchane.
Maxwel Cornet (West Ham United): The West Ham striker has not played a game for his club this season so would have been pleased to get 70 minutes under the belt for the Ivory Coast as they beat Lesotho 1-0 in San Pedro, marking the opening of the new stadium built for next year’s hosting of the Cup of Nations finals.
Cheick Doucoure (Mali): The 23-year-old has featured in all four of Crystal Palace’s league games this season but was left on the bench as Mali beat South Sudan 4-0 in Bamako to finish top of Group G. The defensive midfielder was in Mali’s 2019 squad but did not go to the 2022 edition of the Cup of Nations finals in Cameroon.
Issa Kabore (Burkina Faso): Freshly signed at newly promoted Luton Town, the flying fullback played the full 90 minutes in as disappointing goalless draw for the Burkinabe against Eswatini in Marrakech, just days before the horror earthquake that hit Morocco. Kabore is on loan from Manchester City.
Mohammed Kudus (Ghana): The new West Ham signing, who joined from Ajax just before the competition of the transfer window, got yet another vital goal for his country as they came from behind to beat the Central African Republic in Kumasi. Ghana needed to avoid defeat to qualify for the finals.
Mario Lemina (Gabon): The Wolves midfielder returned to national team duty with Gabon after previously quitting the side and was hoping to help them qualify but they lost away in Mauritania and will not participate at the 2024 finals in the Ivory Coast.
Frank Onyeka (Nigeria): Brentford’s midfielder was making his 14th appearance for the Super Eagles, as they hammered Sao Tome, and put in a full midfield shift alongside Leicester City’s Wilfred Ndidi. The 25-year-old moved to the Premier League three seasons ago from Midtjylland in Denmark.
Mohamed Salah (Egypt): It was pre-arranged that amid all the transfer speculation over Salah, courted by Saudi Arabian clubs but with Liverpool refusing to budge, that the Pharaoh’s captain would sit out the clash with Ethiopia in Cairo but play on Tuesday in the friendly against neighbours Tunisia. Already qualified Egypt won 1-0.
Ibrahim Sangare (Ivory Coast):The tough tackling midfielder scored the only goal for the Elephants as they beat Lesotho, sending a clear message to his new boss at Nottingham Forest that he is ready to debut in Monday’s Premier League clash at home to Burnley. Sangare has just moved to England from PSV Eindhoven.
Antoine Semenyo (Ghana): The dreadlocked winger from Bournemouth came on for the last 20 minutes and stole away possession to help set up the late winner that ensured the Black Stars a 2-1 win over the Central African Republic and their place at next year’s finals in Ivory Coast.
Hamed Traore (Ivory Coast): The Bournemouth midfielder was an unused substitute for the Cup of Nations qualifier against Lesotho but will likely feature in Tuesday’s friendly against neighbours Mali. Traore has made only two sub appearances for the Cherries this new Premier League season.
Yoane Wissa (DR Congo): The 27-year-old has scored twice for Brentford already this season but came off the bench for the Democratic Republic of Congo in their 2-0 win over Sudan in Kinshasa which qualified the country for the next Cup of Nations finals.
*Lyle Foster of Burnley and South Africa did not compete in a Cup of Nations qualifier in this window because Bafana Bafana’s campaign is completed but did start in the friendly on Saturday in Soweto against Namibia, which ended in a 0-0 draw.
Chelsea’s new Senegal striker Nicolas Jackson, Idrissa Gana Gueye from Everton, the Forest pair of Cheikhou Kouyate and Moussa Niakhate and Spurs’ emerging star Pape Matar Sarr were not called up for the Cup of Nations qualifier against Rwanda but rather in a separate squad selected for Tuesday’s friendly against Algeria in Dakar.
*On top of this list, there were several African players from Championship clubs, like Wilfred Ndidi and Patson Daka of Leicester City and Hull’s Jean-Michel Seri, who saw action for their respective countries
Source: Backpage TXT