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The gruelling 46-game regular Championship season has come to an end, but not for the teams who finished between third and sixth.
For these four sides, promotion—and a place in the Premier League—is still on the cards, but only if they can navigate the three-game playoff mini tournament.
Brentford face Bournemouth and Swansea City square off with Barnsley in the two playoff semis, before the winners contest the final at Wembley on May 29.
Ahead of the knockout double-headers, Goal profile the African stars set to collide with a view on reaching the top flight.
Even after missing out in the final last term, and then cashing in on Said Benrahma, Brentford have maintained their high standards this season and are back in with a shout of reaching the Premier League.
While Anglo-Jamaican striker Ivan Toney is the team’s undisputed star man, Franco-Cameroonian wideman Bryan Mbeumo has maintained his fine form from 2019-20.
The 21-year-old—who has represented France at youth level—has had a hand in 18 goals this year, down from 23 during Brentford’s run to the playoff final last season.
Ghana’s Tarique Fosu-Mensah has struggled upon his arrival from Oxford United, but having had a hand in seven goals this term, could yet make his mark in the playoffs.
Another Ghanaian—Andre Ayew—will be confident that he can bring his experience to bear to get his side over the line in this four-team tournament.
The attacker remains with the Swans—despite attempts to depart—and is currently in his second stint with the Welsh side, having originally signed from Olympique de Marseille in 2015.
The 31-year-old scored 16 last term to inspire the Welsh side to the playoffs—they ultimately fell short—but has repeated that haul this season and could sign off on his time at the Liberty Stadium in style.
- Goal Kenya.
Surprise package Barnsley may be the outsiders in the playoff race, but they’ve been inspired since the arrival of Alsatian head coach Valerien Ismael, and could yet crash the party.
Striker Daryl Dike has been a revelation since arriving from Orlando City SC on loan.
He’s the brother of ex-Nigeria striker Bright Dike, and even though he’s been capped by the United States, he’s yet to represent them in a competitive game and could theoretically turn out for the Super Eagles one day.
Kenya’s Clarke Oduor and Nigerian forward Victor Adeboyejo are also on the club’s books.
Looking to complete an immediate return to the Premier League, it’s been a tricky season back in the Championship for Bournemouth who have limped to the finish line, losing their last three.
Manager Jonathan Woodgate, however, knows that he has some serious firepower at his disposal, with the Cherries the third highest scorers in the league.
15 goals have come from Dominic Solanke, while Netherlands international Arnaut Danjuma is understood to be considering a switch to the Super Eagles.
The winger has also scored 15 so far this season, and is surely destined for a major league be it with Bournemouth or alternative employers.
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Bournemouth host Brentford and Swansea City travel to Barnsley in the semi-final first legs on the evening of Monday May 17, before the return fixtures on Saturday.
The final is scheduled for May 29 at Wembley.