The African Cup of Nations 2017 will kick off tomorrow with hosts Gabon battling with Guinea Bissau in the opening game. Supersport.com identifies six players to watch in Africa’s premier competition that represents an opportunity for the world to cast their eyes on the continents best of the best.The following six players stand out among the 16 participating nations who could make an impact in Gabon.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Gabon
The host Gabon will be banking on the services of their talisman Pierre Aubameyang, at this year African Cup of Nations. The Borrusia Dortumond striker has been one of the finest players in the world since 2014.
The French born player who was named the 2015 CAF player of the year is ranked among the best ten players in the world this year.Aubameyang is known for his speed, having clocked 30 metres in 3.7 seconds, and his capability of playing as a forward or a winger. Gabon will greatly depend on the 27-year old forward for goals and he is a must see player in the tournament.
Riyad Mahrez, Algeria
This is another player to watch. The Algerian has enjoyed spectacular success as he inspired Leicester – who had been 5,000-1 outsiders – to a first league title.Mahrez, 25, scored 17 league goals and was voted Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year – the first African to win the award. He also starred for Algeria as they qualified for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.
Sadio Mane, Senegal
Mane, 24, became the most expensive African footballer in history when he joined Liverpool for £34m in the summer.He has made an immediate impact at Anfield, with six goals and four assists in 11 matches for the Reds. Before his move, he had scored eight league goals this year for Southampton, including a hat-trick against then champions Manchester City.Quick on the turn, skilled and mesmeric, Mane is coming into his own as a winger and will carry the weight of Lions of Teranga’s expectations on his shoulders.
Mohamad Salah, Egypt
AS Roma winger has represented the Egyptian national team since 2011, he also participated in the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup and the 2012 Summer Olympics.He won the Swiss Super League in his first season with Basel, and was awarded the CAF Most Promising African Talent of the Year in 2012. In 2013, he was awarded the SAFP Golden Player award for being the best in Swiss Premier League.He is tricky, never predictable and will be expected to light sparks at the tournament.
Adre Ayew, Ghana
Ghana are hardly lacking in the attacking department, but one man whose form may just carry them all the way is the 28-year-old forward Adre Ayew.The striker has hit most of decisive goals for Black Stars in recent years for West Ham by December. Making it to Liberville, provides a clinical eye for goal could provide a serious headache for his defensive opponents.
Khama Billiat, Zimbabwe
The Sundowns striker has flown under the radar for much of his career. But after being voted the PSL Player of the Year for the 2015-16 season, he will very much be in the spotlight.In him Zimbabwe has a certain game changer.Whether they need to go forward and score or sit back and defend, they will not look no further than the youngster to steer them past the group stages.He is definitely one of the African based players to watch.
Culled from SuperSport.com