One U21 Player To Look Out For in Each of Africa’s Ten Best Leagues (Part Two)

Akwa United Champions

With the World Cup rapidly approaching, many nations have started recruiting dual nationals. Just look at Ghana: they’ve convinced Mohammed Salisu, Iñaki Williams, Tariq Lamptey, Patrick Pfeiffer, Stephan Ambrosius, and Ransford Yeboah to swap allegiances. However, while strong moves, sometimes nations need to look closer to home when picking their squads.

In 2018, zero African countries made it to the knockout stage of the World Cup. Egypt had eight players from their domestic league, Tunisia had six, Morocco had two, and both Senegal and Nigeria had none. However, all of Africa’s most successful teams in the World Cup have had at least one domestic player: Senegal had one in 2002, Ghana had three in 2010, and Cameroon had eleven in 1990.

With that in mind, the domestic leagues in Africa should be getting a lot of attention for the next few months. Some players will want to impress domestically, some will look for moves abroad to improve their chances, and some, who won’t be in the tournament, will just look to prove themselves. Here’s part two of my list of African prospects to look out for in Africa’s most successful leagues — plus a bonus league.

(Note: These leagues are chosen by most CAF Champions League titles overall. All stats come from If you missed part one, you can find that here.)

Cameroonian Elite One: CM Jean Eric Moursou, 17, Coton Sport FC

Jean Eric Moursou could soon join the growing list of Coton Sport prospects to make it big. André Zambo Anguissa and Vincent Aboubakar, both expected to be on Cameroon’s squad for Qatar, started their careers with the club, as did Togo center-back Djené. Moursou is building his legacy — the Cameroon youth international has impressed both internationally and nationally. A veteran in the Confederation Cup, he’s made fifteen appearances since his debut as a 16-year-old. Coton Sport have some other talents who could just as easily be here, but Moursou is my personal favorite.

Ghanaian Premier League: ST Franck Etouga, 20, Asante Kotoko

The Ghanaian Premier League has so many exciting talents, ranging from Daniel Awuni to Gregory Obeng Sekyere. However, it’s a Cameroonian that is the Ghanaian Premier League’s top prospect — Franck Etouga. Etouga scored at an elite rate for Asante Kotoko last season, finding the back of the net 21 times in 30 games. In addition, he scored two hat tricks, chipped in with two assists, and helped the club secure the Premier League title. He has yet to make his senior debut for Cameroon but could have a chance to make the World Cup squad.

Guinée Championnat National: DM Fode Camara, 20, Horoya AC

While perhaps not known as one of Africa’s top footballing nations, Guinea has some pretty strong players. Among them is Liverpool’s center midfielder Naby Keïta, who started his career with Horoya AC in Guinea. Horoya has continued to develop young players, with Fode Camara being a top prospect. The young midfielder impressed in the CAF Champions League, starting seven of Horoya’s eight appearances, earning him a call-up to Guinea. He has yet to play internationally, though, so a move to a higher profile league may be necessary.

South African Premiership: CM Ethan Brooks, 20, AmaZulu FC

It’s no secret that South Africa has struggled since hosting the World Cup. Since then, they haven’t made the World Cup and have made the AFCON knockouts just twice. South Africa hasn’t even qualified for two of the last three AFCON tournaments. Still, the domestic league has been better, with South African clubs reaching the CAF Champions League final on three occasions recently. Ethan Brooks has been a benefit of the strong league — the midfielder is now a South African international and is a Premiership veteran. Now at AmaZulu after starting with TS Galaxy, it’ll be interesting to see how he can perform with his new club.

Nigeria Professional Football League: CM Bello Babatunde Martins, 19, Akwa United

The Nigerian Professional Football League has struggled in recent years due to finances and corruption, causing the league to lose some of its appeal. As a result, many of Nigeria’s (and West Africa’s) top prospects have instead opted to play in football academies, which further harms domestic leagues. Still, the NPFL has some exciting prospects. Bello Babatunde Martins is one of them — the 19-year-old has already played over 40 games and has earned a call-up to Nigeria. One to watch for sure.

Bonus: Ivory Coast Ligue 1: LB Yannick Adjoumani, 19, ASEC Mimosas

Technically, this is the eleventh league on this list, but the Ivory Coast is tied for CAF Champions League wins with South African and Nigerian clubs, so I decided to include them anyways.

Adjoumani is fresh off two loans to Sweden, in the first and second tiers. The young Ivorian made his Allsvenskan debut at age 18 and played 18 matches in Sweden. Mimosas have a rich history of developing young talent (Yaya Touré, anyone?) and Adjoumani could well be their next big thing.

Got a player, league, or country you want me to write about? Let me know in the comments!

Image Courtesy of Funman19, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

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