U-17 AFCON: PLAYERS TO WATCH
With the Under-17 Africa Cup of Nations kicking off in just over a fortnight, The SuperSub takes a look at some players to watch in Tanzania, one from each qualified team.
Bilal Ouacharaf (Morocco)
Tawfik Bentayeb may have finished the North Zone qualifiers as top-scorer, but Ouacharaf is arguably the bigger talent. A self-confessed Barcelona fan, the 16-year old wide forward is a composed finisher off either foot, and has scored four times in 16 starts for second-placed Malaga B Juvenil in the Liga Nacional this season.
Olatomi Olaniyan (Nigeria)
Manu Garba is developing a penchant for teams built around rapid transitions and players interchanging positions. He has put together another irresistible team here, and Olaniyan may be the pick of the bunch. A sumptuous dribbler, unfazed in tight spaces and comfortable on either foot, he is the conductor of Nigeria’s attack.
Aliou Balde (Senegal)
Senegal is possibly the most prepared team in the competition and has a tendency to go goal-crazy. This is not surprising: a number of Malick Daff’s players are drawn from Diambars Academy, and so there is a natural chemistry. Forward Balde is tremendous on the counterattack, has bags of flair and technical quality, and plays with a constant smile. Real MVP contender.
Agiri Ngoda (Tanzania)
He simply loves to play reverse through balls, but what’s remarkable is he’s comfortable doing it with either foot. A silky creator who drifts in from the wing to wreak havoc between the lines, he’s handy in front of goal as well. Has a great partnership with striker Kelvin John.
Steve Mvoue (Cameroon)
The 16-year-old has been compared to Paul Pogba and has already had trials with some of the biggest clubs in France. There are concerns over his defensive contribution, but it’s going the other way that the midfielder truly shines. Strong, technically accomplished for his age and a masterful free-kick taker, his stated aim is to win the tournament Golden Ball.
Thomas Kakaire (Uganda)
Uganda relies a lot on set-pieces, but Kakaire is the team’s most consistent creative outlet from open play. Davis Ssekajja provides runs from midfield, and Abdulwahid Iddi is a poacher in the purest sense, but Kakaire is the one who knits the play together for the CECAFA representatives.
The Primeiro De Augusto youth forward has proven himself to be clutch for Angola in the crucial moments. Osvaldo Capemba’s excellence is in finding space in the box by working defenders’ blindsides. He is not one-dimensional by any means: being on the small side, he avoids duels in favour of subtlety and will drop deep on occasion as well.
Momo Fanye Toure (Guinea)
Guinea has, in Toure, the makings of a very impressive striker. His finishes are calm and assured, almost nonchalant. He can hold it up, flick it round the corner, run in behind and lay it off with a single touch. What’s not to like?