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CAF Champions League: King Fut’s Top Ten Players from the Group Stage
Now that the CAF Champions League group stage is over, Karim Fathi of King Fut highlights the top ten players who have grabbed the attention with eye-catching performances in Africa’s premiere club competition. Despite some of their clubs falling short of expectations, the following players have managed to have left an impression on spectators.
10. Abdel-Wahed El-Sayed – Zamalek (EGYPT)
Even though his team have only managed one point from a potential 15, Abdel Wahed El Sayed has been the only player to have impressed with the struggling Cairene side. The ‘Lion of Africa’, as he is known by Zamalek fans, has taken responsibility of protecting Zamalek’s vulnerable net in many games, most notably those away of home. A classy performance against TP Mazembe in Lumbashi sums up his shot-stopping abilities, although his team lost the game by 2 goals. Zamalek’s defense has been vulnerable in almost every game, with Abdel Wahed striving to keep the goals-conceded column as low as possible.
9. Olorundare Dele – Sunshine Stars (NIGERIA)
Olorundare Dele has been a near-constant threat to the opposition for Sunshine Stars this campaign. The striker, who can also be deployed as right winger, is one of the main reasons why the Nigerian team is still alive in the competition. Trophy-less Sunshine Stars have managed to secure a place in the semi-finals in their first ever participation in the CAF Champions League. With a man of the match performance against ASO Chlef, Dele managed to score the first goal and contribute the assist for second to grab an integral 3 points for the Agugu Boys.
8. Franck Kom – Etoile du Sahel (TUNISIA)
The Cameroonian midfielder was an ever-present for Etoile du Sahel in their group stage campaign. The Tunisian team were disqualified after four games following a pitch invasion from their fans in their clash with rivals Esperance. Kom was a determined and combative presence in the middle of the park, providing a real presence, particularly when charged with tracking Esperance right back Harrison Afful in the all-Tunisian affair.
7. Soloman Asante – Berekum Chelsea (GHANA)
Just a few weeks ago the Ghana FA cleared all doubts over Solomon Asante’s nationality by stating his eligibility for the Black Stars. Asante featured in a friendly game for Burkina Faso 2 years ago when he used to play for ASFA Yennenga, having won the Burkinabé Premier League Top Scorer in consecutive seasons at the raw age of 18. The right winger has managed to be an ideal foil for teammate Emmanuel Clottey, slicing through defenses and notching assists consistently. Asnate was named in Ghana’s 24-man squad for matches against Malawi and Liberia.
6. Mohamed Abou-Treika – Al-Ahly (EGYPT)
Even though the Egyptian magician is only 2 months away from being 34, Abou-Treika seems to have lost hardly any of the vitality of youth. The offensive midfielder has managed to demonstrate his eternal class with a couple of stunning performances in the competition. Scoring 6 goals, Abou-Treika is Al-Ahly’s top scorer in the tournament. The 33-year-old player also managed to score the winning goal against fierce local rivals Zamalek to guide the team to an important, table-topping 3 points. Remarkably, Abou-Treika has been so effective even despite missing the crunch match with Berekum Chelsea, due to his Olympic duties with Egypt. Unfortunately, Treika has now been banned for 2 months by Al-Ahly for refusing to play in the Egypt Super Cup, and is now set to miss the remainder of the tournament.
5. Yannick N’Djeng – Esperance Sportive de Tunis (TUNISIA)
The 1.87 metre hitman is yet to stop his goal-scoring exploitations against African clubs. Even though he has only contributed 4 goals so far, his immense presence is irreplaceable. N’Djeng always manages to score late in the game, rising to the occasion exactly when his team just need him most. He scored Esperance’s second against Sunshine Stars in Nigeria, as well as a 93rd minute goal winner against ASO Chlef when the score was at 2-2, finally, and most importantly, he scored the second against fierce rivals Etoile du Sahel, inciting the home fans enough to lead to a pitch invasion moments after N’Djeng’s celebration!
4. Walid Soliman – Al-Ahly (EGYPT)
The tricky winger is having a near-perfect Champions League debut campaign with the Red Devils. Having scored 2 goals against Berekum Chelsea in Cairo, both contenders for goal of the tournament, Soliman has been an electric fear for opposition defences. Against Mazembe his sliced pass led to Emad Metab opening the scoring for Ahly, while his dangerous running against Zamalek made a gibbering wreck of rightback Ahmed Samir. Soliman then contributed a man of the match performance against Berekum Chelsea, with Chelsea’s former boss Hans van der Pluijm identifying Soliman as the tournament’s ‘player to watch’. Watch out for the exciting winger in the semi-finals.
3. Mbwana Ally Samata – TP Mazembe (DR CONGO)
The Tanzanian striker has been nicknamed the Egyptian Slayer by local media after scoring against both Al Ahly and Zamalek in each game he played against them. The striker has bagged 6 goals so far in the tournament, with 4 of them coming against Egyptian teams. Three of the four scored against the Egyptian duo resulted from headers, underlining his terrific aerial ability.
2. Tresor Mabi Mputu – TP Mazembe (DR CONGO)
Nationality: DR Congo
Dubbed as ‘the next Samuel Eto’o’ by Claude le Roy, Mputu seemingly can’t stop excelling at this level. After a hatful of goals at club level, Mputu captained Mazembe through their victorious 2009 and 2010 Champions League campaigns, as well as their impressive performances in the World Club Cup. A two week trial at Arsenal followed, but for now, at least, Mputu remains in Lubumbashi, where he is the star once again, after enduring a 12 month global ban for aggressive behaviour. Mputu has scored 6 goals so far, including a double against Berekum Chelsea, to guide Mazembe to the semi-finals.
1. Emmanuel Clottey – Berekum Chelsea (GHANA)
Without any doubt, Clottey definitely deserves to top this list. At the age of 20 he top scored in the Glo Premier League with a tally of 14 goals. An unsuccessful stint in Europe followed, with premature moves to Austria and Denmark, before a downtrodden Clottey returned to West Africa. A two week trial at ENPPI came to nothing, before the striker proved what he is capable of with a barnstorming campaign. Clottey currently leads the Champions League scoring charts, and Egyptian fans know first hand why this is – he scored a hat trick against Zamalek, and one against Ahly in Cairo, to go alongside an impressive brace against Mazembe in Lubumbashi. Many clubs were reportedly attempting to lure the striker from Chelsea, but he’s finally sealed his move to Tunisia’s Esperance; one of the most expensive transfers ever between African football clubs.
With 3 Egyptians, 2 Ghanaians, 2 Cameroonians, and a Tanzanian, Nigerian and Congolese featured, this list demonstrates the talent across the board, and across the continent. Class has been evident throughout this competition, and the team at King Fut are excited to see how things develop in the semi-finals and the final. Comment below on our list, and on those players who would have made your top ten selection.