Africa’s rising stars at the World Cup
The World Cup in Qatar is the perfect platform for players to showcase their quality, and for some of Africa’s young stars, an opportunity to catch the eye of the biggest clubs on the planet.
There are a number who will be hoping to use the tournament to further their careers and win a big transfer at the end of the season.
We pick five players who will be eager to make a statement.
MOHAMMED KUDUS (AJAX AMASTERDAM & GHANA)
Kudus has made no secret of his desire to leave Ajax Amsterdam this season and had agreed a deal to join English Premiership side Everton before Manchester United swooped for Antony and his club blocked the move as they did not want to lose both in the same window.
But it does seem inevitable that Kudus will go in the near future and a good World Cup will likely open up his options in the future.
He is one of the first names on the Ghana teamsheet and a huge attacking threat for the Black Stars, having already netted 10 times for Ajax this season, including four goals in the Uefa Champions League.
The 22-year-old will see this as the perfect stage to display his talents to the world.
HANNIBAL MEJBRI (BIRMINGHAM CITY & TUNISIA)
Mejbri is on loan at English Championship side Birmingham City from Manchester United, and at only 19 will be one of the youngest members of the Tunisian squad in Qatar.
The French-born midfielder has come through the academy at United but is yet to get really near the first team. It will be interesting to see how the club view him after the World Cup.
But a strong showing will certainly put him in the show window for next season if Erik ten Hag does not see him in his plans.
The former France junior international already has 18 caps for Tunisia and is a vital part of their side despite still being a teenager.
JEAN ONANA (LENS & CAMEROON)
Onana is not always a first choice for Cameroon but will be eager to grab any opportunity he gets at the World Cup.
The 22-year-old plays for Lens in Ligue 1 but will have eyes on a step up in his career after Qatar, even though he only joined the team this season from Bordeaux.
He is a product of Blaise Nkufo’s academy, who made his way to Ligue 1 through Portugal and signed for Lens after Bordeaux were relegated in the last campaign.
He made his International debut against Japan in 2020 and played at the Cup of Nations finals at the start of the year.
AZZEDINE OUNAHI (ANGERS & MOROCCO)
Ounahi made his debut for Morocco this year but has cemented his place in the side and made a huge impression on the international stage.
He will hope to carry that into the World Cup having made his breakthrough at Ligue 1 side Angers last season.
The 22-year-old will see this as the perfect chance to showcase his quality to a watching world and make a case for the fact he should be at a bigger club in a bigger league.
BAMBA DIENG (MARSEILLE & SENEGAL)
The striker had his breakthrough season with Marseille in 2021/22, which led to a call-up for Senegal and a place in the victorious squad at the Africa Cup of Nations finals in Cameroon.
The 22-year-old is not prolific as a forward, but has other attributes with his height and pace, and is a superb foil for Sadio Mane in the Senegal team.
He is already at a big club in Marseille, but will have ambitions beyond Ligue 1, and a strong showing in Qatar will only enhance his growing reputation.