6 players to watch at the 2014 African Nations Championship

2014-01-11 09:17

With the start of the third edition of the African Nations Championship today, Daniel Mothowagae picks six players to keep an eye on in the January 11 to February 1 tournament

Vuyo Mere (South Africa)

After a lengthy absence from Bafana Bafana, the 29-year-old Platinum Stars defender will be hoping to utilise his return to the national team by re-establishing himself as one of the finest fullbacks in the country.

Robert Kidiaba (DRC)

The flamboyant TP Mazembe goalkeeper – who is famous for his butt-bouncing repertoire each time his team scores – will stretch his appearances in this tournament to three as he was part of the Leopards side that lifted the inaugural edition in 2009. Kidiaba is one of the best shot-stoppers on the continent and a loyal club man who has achieved continental success with former African club champions Mazembe.

Soumaila Diakite (Mali)

The 27-year-old Stade Malien goalkeeper boasts quite invaluable experience between the sticks having been part of the Malian teams that participated at the last three Afcon finals, including the one in South Africa last year. Diakite will be best remembered for saving Dean Furman’s and May Mahlangu’s penalties that led to Bafana crashing out in the quarterfinals of the 2013 Afcon.

Daniel Cousin (Gabon)

One of the experienced campaigners at the African Nations Championship, the 36-year-old striker had stint overseas with spells at a number of clubs in France and Scotland before he returned home in 2011 and joined local Gabonese side Sapins FC. The erstwhile Glasgow Rangers marksman was one of the stars of the 2012 Afcon that was co-hosted by his country and Equatorial Guinea.

Kwabena Edusei (Ghana)

The Asante Kotoko midfielder had a brief trial at Absa Premiership club Bidvest Wits in July last year. Edusei can play on either sides of the defence and he was part of the Black Stars side that clinched the Wafu Cup in November last year, a tournament similar to the African Nations Championship that allow only home-based players to participate.

Degu Debebe (Ethiopia)

Another familiar face from last year’s Afcon, the St George defender Debebe captains both club and country. The 30-year-old led his side to the group stages of the 2013 CAF Confederation Cup. He and midfielder Addis Hintsa are expected to unleash the same form that saw them triumph over the big guns during the Walias’ fairytale run in the 2014 Fifa World Cup qualifiers where they eliminated Bafana.

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