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The Best Young Talent at AFCON 2015

AFCON 2015: Chelsea's Bertrand Traore & Top 7 youngsters to watch

January 15, 2015 By Mutembei Kevin
Who are the African youngsters that will breathe freshness into the AFCON this year? Read on!

Most of us are already quite familiar with the more established faces of African Football; the likes of three-in-a-row African Footballer of the Year Yaya Toure, Mali talisman Seydou Keita, Senegalese sharpshooter Papiss Demba Cisse… the list is endless. But who are the young, emerging players that have been given the responsibility of flying their countries’ flags high? LiveSoccerTV.com profiles seven young stars to keep your eye on at the prestigious tournament in Eq. Guinea this year.

1. Bertrand Traore (Chelsea, Burkina Faso)



Exciting attacking midfielder Bertrand Traore is a both a young player and an old player for his country, having made his international debut at the tomato-tender age of 16 and proceeded to nail down his spot in the The Stallions’ squad. Such is the ferocious tenacity and refined skill set of the young forward that the mighty Chelsea of England had to take notice, snapping him up on a four-and-half year contract before sending him to sister-club Vitesse to join the horde of other young Chelsea players on loan. At Vitesse, Traore has proved an invaluable asset, helping the club to stay in the top half of the Eredivisie table. The clearest illustration of this is his sumptuous double away against Ajax that dumped the Dutch giants out of the KNVB Beker cup.

Watch Traore’s Stunning Brace against Dutch Heavyweights Ajax Below:


 

2. Roger Assale (Sewe Sport, Cote D’Ivoire)



Many football fans from around the world might not have heard of Roger Assale but Egyptian giants Al Ahly certainly have. Assale was Sewe Sport’s sole battering ram during both legs the clubs’ tie in the CAF Confederation Cup, netting in the first leg and giving Al Ahly defenders a torrid time in the second. His pace and truly boundless energy will give Elephants’ coach Herve Renard a fantastic option. In the absence of retiree Didier Drogba, the likes of Wilfried Bony and Lacine Traore will have to step their game up to stop the 21-year-old from taking their spots.

3. Yannick Bolasie (Crystal Palace, Democratic Republic of Congo)



Explosive Crystal Palace winger Yannick Bolasie was the orchestrator behind the DRC’s 4-3 upset over the mighty Elephants of Ivory Coast during the AFCON 2015 qualifiers. Though he did not get on the score sheet himself, the winger displayed his penchant for finding killer passes by setting up his teammates for the easiest of finishes. Crystal Palace’s opponents have learned the hard way to be wary of the fiery wide man especially after his fantastic display against ailing English club Liverpool in the Premier League. 

4. Nabil Bentaleb (Tottenham Hotspur, Algeria)



It has barely been 12 months since 20-year-old Nabil Bentaleb made his debut for English side Tottenham but the Algerian is clearly a star on the rise. After having been enrolled into the Tottenham Hotspur academy in early 2012, Bentaleb is now a mainstay of the Spurs team, forming a formidable deep-lying midfield duo with fellow young midfielder Benjamin Stambouli. Highly-rated midfield enforcer Moussa Dembélé has seen his playing time cut short by the Algerian, whose calm, assured, metronomic passing ability has been at the core of Tottenham’s and Algeria’s success in recent times.

5. Clinton N’Jie (Olympique Lyon, Cameroon)



The retirement of Cameroon’s leading scorer and captain Samuel Eto’o is certainly not good news for the African giants ahead of AFCON 2015. However, in the partnership between Clinton N’Jie and Vincent Aboubakar, the Indomitable Lions have an equally potent goal-scoring source. N’Jie is the latest product of Olympic Lyon’s endless production line of precocious young forwards and troubles opposing defenses with his dribbling and astute running between the channels. Aboubakar is often the beneficiary of the space created by the former and these two have already proved their worth in the country’s romp to AFCON 2015.

6. Issiaga Sylla (Toulouse, Guinea)



Capable of playing as both a winger and a full back, Issiaga Sylla’s all-round play includes purposeful attacking as well as no-nonsense defending and tracking back, making him an invaluable asset to any team. Effective teams have to attack and defend as a unit, with players who play farther up-field complementing the defender’s effort to win back possession when the team is pressed. 20-year-old Sylla is a player that enables a team to use this philosophy, and a coach of Michel Dussuyer’s experience will surely look to players of this type to offer compactness against the dangerous teams in the Black Stars’ Group D.

7. Mehdi Abeid (Newcastle United, Algeria)



Mehdi Abeid is yet another Algerian youngster that has made his mark on the Premier League this season. Abeid’s energy and pin-point passing caught former Newcastle manager Alan Pardew’s eye, and the youngster repaid his manager’s faith with fantastic displays against English heavyweights Liverpool and Manchester City. Against the physical play that is usually prevalent in AFCON tournaments, a player like 22-year-old Abeid will offer a great option for his country.


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