Monday Dec 25, 2017. 12:00
With the 2018 World Cup set to be held in Russia next hear between June and July, AfricanFootball.com picked their top 10 players from the African continent who will grace the Russian stage.
*NB - We picked two players from each of the five qualified teams: Egypt, Senegal, Nigeria, Tunisia and Morocco.
Mohamed Salah - Egypt
One of Africa’s greatest current superstars and the inspiration behind Egypt’s qualification for the 2018 World Cup. The 25-year-old plays his club football with English giants Liverpool and is renowned for his pace and direct attacking style.
Abdallah Said - Egypt
A powerful and tireless central midfielder, Abdallah Said has been a key player for the Egyptian national team and Cairo giants Al Ahly for many years now. The 32-year-old is a box-to-box player who also packs a punch in his long-range shooting ability.
Sadio Mane - Senegal
Blessed with speed, skill and a keen eye for goal, Senegal’s Sadio Mane will head to the 2018 World Cup as one of Africa’s brightest stars. The 25-year-old is equally capable of the killer pass or clean finish in the final third of the field, and is very much a fan favourite at Liverpool.
Kalidou Koulibaly - Senegal
A powerfully built centre-back, Kalidou Koulibaly has established himself as one of Serie A’s best defenders in his time with Napoli and has been strongly linked with a big-money move to the Premier League. The 26-year-old is set to be the player Senegal build their defence around.
Victor Moses - Nigeria
Transformed from a forward to a wingback at club level with Chelsea, Victor Moses proved that he has lost none of his skill in the final third of the field by being a key player for Nigeria in their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign. The 26-year-old was part of the Super Eagles’ squad in Brazil 2014 and will be looking forward to his second World Cup.
John Obi Mikel - Nigeria
The captain and midfield general for Nigeria, John Obi Mikel is arguably the Super Eagles’ most important player as they head into the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The 30-year-old’s experience and ability to transition from defence to attack (and vice versa) makes him the pivot around which the Super Eagles move.
Youssef Msakni - Tunisia
A winger or striker, Youssef Msakni demonstrated his goal-scoring prowess for Tunisia in their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, notably scoring a hat-trick in a 4-1 win over Guinea in October. The 27-year-old is set to be the key attacking player for the Carthage Eagles in Russia.
Wahbi Khazri - Tunisia
Much maligned for his unimpressive spell with Sunderland in the Premier League last season, Tunisian fans know the true value of playmaker Wahbi Khazri. The 26-year-old is set to be their main source of creative inspiration when they make a return to the World Cup in Russia 2018.
Medhi Benatia - Morocco
It says everything for Medhi Benatia’s influence as a defender and captain that Morocco didn’t concede a single goal in their 2018 World Cup qualifying group. The veteran centre-back, who has represented the likes of Roma, Bayern Munich and Juventus in his career, will be the Atlas Lions’ key player in Russia.
Khalid Boutaib - Morocco
In a team which errs on the defensive side of things, striker Khalid Boutaib often has to feed on scraps when playing alone upfront for Morocco. Yet his tireless efforts in pressing, making intelligent runs down the channels and an ability to finish off the rare chances he is given makes him the perfect striker for this Atlas Lions side.