After a long qualifying process, the list of 31 teams heading to Russia next year is finally complete. Africa's representatives will be Nigeria, Morocco, Senegal, Tunisia, and Egypt, and all of these teams will be obviously hoping to go as far in the tournament as possible.
Of course, no team can achieve this without their key players stepping up, and while there are 11 men on the pitch, there are some faces that fans obviously will have their eyes on at World Cup 2018.
Here are ten players to look out for at next year's tournament.
Simply put, one can't talk about African stars without mentioning Mohamed Salah. The former Chelsea man rediscovered his confidence after moving to Serie A, where he plied his trade with Fiorentina and Roma before securing a big money move to Liverpool this past summer. Salah netted five of Egypt's eight goals en route to the Pharaohs topping a quartet that also included Ghana, and he arguably will be one of the biggest names to be representing Africa at next year's World Cup.
Naturally, Salah's Liverpool colleague Sadio Mane is another big name set to feature at the upcoming tournament. While his participation for Senegal was hampered due to injury, Mane's strong showings for the Reds certainly are a testament to his overall quality. Should be hopefully avoid any further injury set-backs, he obviously will be one of the stars for the Lions of Teranga next year.
Although Benatia is not a consistent starter for Juventus, the former Roma, Udinese, and Bayern Munich defender played a vital role in securing his side's spot at World Cup 2018. The skipper's goal, which made it 2-0 for Morocco against the Ivory Coast, was enough to seal all three points and earn them a berth at the tournament for the first time in two decades. Furthermore, his leadership from the back proved vital in Morocco making it through their group not just undefeated, but without conceding a single goal.
A four time AFCON winner - and runner-up at the latest edition - El-Hadary will be 45 years old by the time next year's World Cup rolls around. Yes, that's right, 45 years old. He's currently the eldest ever player to feature at an AFCON tournament and played a vital role in the Pharaohs' run to the final, including saving two spot-kicks against Burkina Faso during a tense penalty shoot-out. Should he feature, he will thus become the eldest ever player in history to take part at the competition, and given his evergreen nature, one shouldn't bet against him playing a part for his national side next summer.
It was just a friendly, of course, but Alex Iwobi's recent brace to fire Nigeria to a 4-2 comeback against Argentina had Super Eagles fans obviously excited about their team's prospects ahead of next year's World Cup. The Arsenal starlet may be just 21 years old, but he's already making waves, including scoring a vital goal against Zambia to secure Nigeria's spot at the World Cup back in October. It goes without saying that he definitely will be among the young prospects to track as the team aim to improve on their past World Cup showings.
Since making his move from Genk to Napoli in 2014, Kalidou Koulibaly has rapidly established himself as one of the top defenders in Serie A, and for anyone who knows calcio, that's not an easy feat. The powerful center-back has been vital to Napoli's excellent start to the league campaign which has seen them concede just eight goals in their first 12 matches. More significant is his versatility, which means he can also be used as a full-back if needed, and that, plus his strength in the air, is something Senegal will be heavily relying on next summer.
Keita Baldé Diao
His pace and trickery are among his attributes that many Serie A fans are familiar with following Keita's four seasons with Lazio. In his final term with the Biancocelesti, Keita netted an impressive 16 goals in 34 appearances across all competitions. A move to Monaco soon followed this past summer, where he's scored three times, and he netted once goal during Senegal's World Cup qualifying campaign. He'll only be 23 years old by the time the latest edition of the World Cup kicks off and definitely is one to keep note of at next summer's tournament.
Another young prospect for Nigeria, Kelechi Iheanacho scored the first of the Super Eagles' goals during their recent 4-2 friendly win against Argentina. He has eight goals so far for his national side, including two in their recent qualifying campaign. The 2013 U-17 World Cup winner, who now plays his club football for Leicester City, will be eager and hungry to make a name for himself on football's biggest stage in Russia next summer.
Although he's only 19, he's been getting some serious minutes with Real Madrid due to the absence of other more senior players. Notably, Hakimi has already featured for the reigning UCL champs in their double-header with Tottenham, as well as in La Liga and the Spanish Cup, while he also played a vital role in Morocco's strong showings in their qualifying process for the upcoming World Cup.
Netted a vital hat-trick on the road to inspire Tunisia's comeback against Guinea, which put them in pole position to eventually seal top spot. Although may not be as well known as some of the others on this list, the 27-year-old, who plays his club football for Qatari side Al-Duhail, has plenty of AFCON experience and surely will be relishing his chance to shine for Tunisia at their first World Cup since 2006.