Can Samuel Eto’o of Cameroon retain his title for the third consecutive time or will a new face topple him?
Another African Cup of Nations is here with us in Angola and all eyes will be on the strikers who might lift the coveted award as they look to fire their respective nations to glory.
The last tournament in Ghana 2008 was the highest scoring since the Africa Cup of Nations began, with 99 goals being recorded. Strikers heading towards Angola will hope to break that record, as well as make a name for themselves. But it takes a lot to achieve such a feat.
Besides fortune, goalscoring takes a great deal of endurance, fortitude, patience, ruthlessness, selfishness and, in rare cases, autocracy to achieve. Everybody enjoys quality football but beautiful football without goals is like having all the best food ingredients assembled on your table without salt.
The fans will be looking out for the goals and their accompanying celebrations. Who among the strikers and the fancied teams will emerge as the top goal poacher?
Samuel Eto’o, of the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, has the potential and needs no introduction. In Egypt 2006 and Ghana 2008 he wore the golden boot after scoring five goals in each tournament. Cameroon’s hopes in Angola rest heavily on his experienced shoulders, and he has been in good form in the Italian Serie A with Inter.
The 28-year-old is the all-time leading scorer in the history of the African Nations Cup with 16 goals in his bag. As the leading goal scorer in their World/African Cups campaign it would not be too risky to bet your last penny on him. Taking the title for the third consecutive time would add more to his laurels.
Nigerian strikers Yakubu Aiyegbeni of Everton and Wolfsburg’s Obafemi Martins are also strong contenders for the top goal scorer's crown. During their match against Kenya, which paved the way for the Super Eagles to go to South Africa 2010, the duo did the goal scoring trick. Either of them could make it to the top of the charts, depending on their team’s performance.
Another player to watch is Manucho Goncalves of host nation Angola. He unleashed four goals during the last tournament in Ghana 2008, finishing second in the goals table. He is a talented striker, strong and fast, able to hold the ball up well whilst not afraid to run at defenders and try his luck with shots on goal from distance. He was recently in the news when crossing the national coach, but the Angolan fans will hope that the situation is sorted out so the attacker can do his best to impress in front of his home support.
He stands the chance of competing for the top scorer mantle if his team progresses to the latter stages.
World Cup-bound VfL Wolfsburg midfielder, Karim Ziani of Algeria, could pull a surprise too. He possesses the dribbling and passing qualities. The attacking midfielder is a playmaker and could prove his critics wrong.
By now you may be waiting to come across the much-talked about Moumouni Dagano of Burkina Faso. The 29-year-old unknown striker stunned African football watchers by becoming the leading scorer during the 2010 World/African Cups qualifications.
The Al Khor forward struck 12 times to guarantee the Stallions of Burkina Faso a place in Angola. But his team find themselves in a group which makes it practically impossible to progress to the knockout stages. But football has changed and surprises continue to make the game a passion.
Dagano has what it takes to top the scoring charts but he will need his team to upset the odds and progress if he is to achieve the feat.
Mohamed Zidan is the hope of Egypt, and could build upon his two goals at the last tournament to grab the Golden Boot now that their livewire Mohamed Aboutrika is out due to injury. The Dortmund ace was outstanding in the 2008 tournament and even created the chance for Aboutrika to win the prestigious continental title.
The likes of Michael Essien and Asamoah Gyan of Ghana, Didier Drogba of Ivory Coast and Frederic Kanoute of Mali, among others, might come close but would need to put in a lot of effort to pencil their names on the score sheet.
Who else do you think might be in the running to be top goalscorer at Angola 2010?
K.N.S. Mensah, Goal.com