Mohammed Salah

There will be many stars in Cameroon for the Africa Cup of Nations 2022 that kicks off this month.

The 36-match group phase kicks off on January 9 at the newly built Olembe Stadium in Yaounde and the tournament concludes at the same 60,000-seat venue on February 6 with the final.

Here, we look at some of the big names to watch out for and to keep an eye on when the tournament kicks off;

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Mohamed Salah – Egypt

Mohamed Salah has been in superb form with his club Liverpool currently the top scorer with 16 goals and 9 assists. He finished in seventh place in the Ballon d’Or 2021. His goal will be to bring Egypt an eighth continental title.

Sadio Mané – Senegal

A key member of Klopp’s famed attack at Liverpool, Mané is one of the best wingers in the world. Captain of Senegal, he is the main offensive asset for the Lions of Teranga. After losing out to Algeria in the final last time out, he finally wants to lead his teammates to glory.

Islam Slimani – Algeria

Slimani is always involved for holders Algeria, even if he is now mainly a substitute for club Olympique Lyonnais. He is the top scorer in Algeria’s history with 38 goals.

Franck Kessié – Ivory Coast

Franck Kessié is the boss of the Ivory Coast midfield. He is also an important player at AC Milan, his club since 2017. His calmness, his vision and his leadership will be assets for the Ivorians.

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting – Cameroon

Choupo-Moting has become a leader of the Cameroon team, having not made himself available at times in the past. Despite being a reserve striker at Bayern Munich, he remains important in the Cameroonian wheel. At 32 years old, he will be one of the most experienced players in the squad.

Sébastien Haller – Ivory Coast

Brilliant for Ajax this season, especially in the Champions League, Haller will be the leader of the Ivory Coast attack. The former Eintracht Frankfurt player only made his debut for the Elephants in 2020.

Edouard Mendy – Senegal

Senegal’s Edouard Mendy has established himself as the uncontested no. 1 at Chelsea since his arrival from Rennes in 2020. He won the Champions League with the Blues in 2021. He is now widely known as one of the best goalkeepers in the world.

Riyad Mahrez – Algeria

Captain of defending champions Algeria, Riyad Mahrez will hope to be at the top of his game during this AFCON. He has produced some less than convincing performances in the last few months for his country, but Algeria fans expect him to replicate his Manchester City form on the big stage.

Amadou Haidara – Mali

Amadou Haidara has become a key midfield presence for German club RB Leipzig. He fulfils a similar role for the Eagles of Mali, who are among the outsiders at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations.

Saïd Benrahma – Algeria

The West Ham winger is coming in after taking the Premier League by storm and this tournament is where he can shine. If Algeria wants to become back to back AFCON champions and add to their recent FIFA Arab Cup title, the West Ham winger in addition to their other talented players will be key.

Achraf Hakimi – Morocco

Hakimi has been one of the best young talents in Africa for years now, as evidenced by his 41 international caps by age 23. Earning a big-money move from Inter Milan to PSG this past summer, Hakimi has hit the ground running in Paris, where he has contributed three goals and three assists from his right back position.

Kalidou Koulibaly – Senegal

The Napoli star made headlines two years ago as a possible high-value transfer target, and he still remains one of the top defenders in Europe. It’s no coincidence that Napoli lost just one league match until his injury, at which point the club lost three of four during his absence.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – Gabon

Frozen out of the Arsenal squad and rumored to be pushing his way out, this month Aubameyang will be extra hungry to feature at the AFCON event and remind the world.

Thomas Partey – Ghana

Thomas Partey has quietly transitioned into one of the most valuable players in the Premier League, and his loss will be felt at Arsenal. Partey is a true box-to-box talent who can lead Ghana deep into the knockout stage.