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The Stars Who Must Perform at AFCON 2015

Yaya Toure, Aubameyang, Gyan: 10 top stars who can't flop - AFCON 2015

January 15, 2015 By Mutembei Kevin
Who are the African stars who must perform for their countries this year? Read on!

A team is made of 11 players but it is obvious that some players have more expectations placed on them than others. Such is the case of Yaya Toure, Aubameyang, A. Gyan and a host of other African stars whose countries’ prospects at AFCON 2015 rest squarely on their shoulders. takes a look at the players who can not afford to rest on their laurels at this year’s showdown.

1. Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast, Manchester City)

All eyes will undoubtedly be on Yaya Toure at the tournament in Equatorial Guinea. After winning the African Player of the Year trophy for four years running thanks to a great extent to his exploits with Manchester City in the English Premier League, can Toure deliver on the African stage? Can he help Ivory Coast to avoid embarrassments like the one suffered in their 4-3 loss to DR Congo in Abidjan? The Ivorian midfield enforcer is the undisputed talisman of his national side now after Didier Drogba’s retirement and will be expected to put in a performance that merits his new status.

2. Pierre Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund, Gabon)

Not long after signing for German giants Borussia Dortmund, Gabonese winger Aubameyang stole the headlines after having been timed to sprint faster than world-renown Olympics 100 meters record holder Usain Bolt. The explosive forward has continued the form he had displayed at AFCON 2012 (which was hosted in part by his motherland) in Germany, and has made a big impression at Dortmund, scoring goals left, right and center as well as assisting his teammates. Gabon will no doubt look up to the young man to provide inspiration in Equatorial Guinea. Can he do for Gabon what he has done for Borussia?

3. Diafra Sakho, Sadio Mané, and Papiss Cissé (Senegal, West Ham, Southampton, Newcastle Respectively)

Senegal has a history of producing great forwards who have fared well internationally, and this triplet are no exception. All three play in the Premier League, arguably the world’s toughest league, and are invaluable players for their respective teams.

Sakho in particular has shone for West Ham, combining with fellow forward Enner Valencia to propel the Hammers to their current #7 position on the EPL table (as per January 15, 2015 standings).

Papiss ‘Demba’ Cisse was the engineer of Chelsea’s first loss of the season, netting a sumptuous brace to break Jose Mourinho’s unbeaten start to 2014/15.

Sadio Mane has been equally instrumental, netting the equalizer against the aforementioned Chelsea as well as against Arsenal and a host of other EPL clubs.

4. Asamoah Gyan and the Ayew Brothers (Ghana, Al Ain, Marseille, Lorient)

These three players are the stars in a star-studded Black Stars team.

Ghana captain A. Gyan cemented his place among the best forwards in the game after his fantastic displays for English club Sunderland before switching to the UAE. The scar of his penalty miss against Uruguay in 2010 now completely healed, Gyan will be looking to secure more silverware for his country at AFCON 2015.

One Ayew brother is missing from Avram Grant’s final squad for the tournament this term, but Andre and Jordan have made it. Young Jordan (left) will have to vie for a starting berth with more established strikers like Gyan but his older brother (right) will likely slot right into Avram Grant’s plans for the midfield. Can the trio make the difference for the Black Stars this year?

5. Seydou Keita (Mali, AS Roma)

Seydou Keita has represented Mali since the tender age of 20 and is a fully-fledged experienced international player who has played for a good number of clubs now. At 34, and given his immense experience, Keita’s starting berth in the Malian team is under little threat and he will be looked up to inspire the rest of the squad to victory at the tournament in Guinea. Capable of playing as both an attacking and defensive midfielder, the former Barcelona man’s versatility is a quality that coach Henryk Kasperczak will count on.

6. Vincent Aboubakar (Cameroon, Porto)

After leading scorer and captain Samuel Eto’o’s retirement, the Cameroonians are crying out for a prolific striker capable of filling the shoes of the former African Player of the Year. Aboubakar’s arrival on the scene is an answer to their prayers. The 22-year-old’s four goals in Cameroon’s qualification campaign were central to the former African champions’ 1st placed finish from Group D. Another factor that will excite Indomitable Lions’ fans’ is his flourishing partnership upfront with fellow youngster Clinton Njie. Can Aboubakar make the lions truly indomitable?

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