Africa Cup of Nations: Picking every team's key player

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  1. Pedro Obiang West Ham
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    Equatorial Guinea

    Star man: Pedro Obiang

    Ex-West Ham United midfielder who finally opted for the African minnows after previously holding out for Spain.

  2. Frank Mhango, Orlando Pirates, January 2021
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    Malawi

    Star man: Gabadinho Mhango

    Outstanding with Orlando Pirates last term, injuries have affected his progress this season.

  3. Getaneh Kebede, Ethiopia
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    Ethiopia

    Star man: Getaneh Kebede

    Talisman for Ethiopia, and boasts an enviable international scoring record, even if he's achieved little club success outside his homeland.

  4. Juary Soares of Guinea-Bissau
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    Guinea-Bissau

    Star Man: Juary Soares

    Wideman Piqueti and Jorginho are influential, but Soares - who plays in the French lower leagues - has already scored in the Afcon, and is capable of making an impact.

  5. El Fardou Ben Nabouhane,Red Star Belgrade
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    Comoros

    Star man: El Fardou Ben Nabouhane

    Extensive experience of European football, and ensures that this organised Comorian side can pack a punch.

  6. Omar Colley Sampdoria
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    Gambia

    Star man: Omar Colley

    Playing at a high level with Serie A Sampdoria, Colley is a genuine touch of class in this Gambian side.

  7. Lens Lyon cropped
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    Zimbabwe

    Star man: Tino Kadewere

    Bagging the goals for Olympique Lyonnais in the French top flight, and nominated for the Prix Marc-Vivien Foe, Kadewere makes Zim stronger going forward than they were in 2019. His relationship with Khama Billiat has much potential.

  8. Bafana Bafana against Sudan, March 2021
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    Sudan

    Star man: Saifeldin Bakhit

    An aggressive, determined striker who is good with the ball at his feet.

  9. Mauritania
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    Mauritania

    Star man: Ismael Diakite

    Diminutive, but excellent off the ball work and can also be useful in wide areas. If used off the bench, he has the pace to punish tired defenders.

  10. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Gabon
    GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP via Getty Images

    Gabon

    Star man: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

    He's achieved precious little in his international career, but - now in his 30s - can he finally make a positive impression at a Nations Cup?

  11. Ryan Mendes
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    Cape Verde

    Star man: Ryan Mendes

    Previously spent time in France and England, but now found plying his trade in the United Arab Emirates. At 31, he still has much to offer, and can give the Sharks some bite in Cameroon.

  12. Naby Keita Liverpool 2020-21
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    Guinea

    Star Man: Naby Keita

    Struggling at Liverpool, but he remains a talisman with Guinea.

  13. Yves Bissouma - Brighton and Hove Albion
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    Mali

    Star man: Yves Bissouma

    Continuing to progress at Brighton & Hove Albion, as he becomes the kind of player who the top clubs in England are starting to look at.

  14. Bertrand Traore Burkina Faso.
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    Burkina Faso

    Star Man: Betrand Traore

    The one-time Chelsea wonderkid is now an elder statesman with the national side, and will hope to transfer his Aston Villa form to the Nations Cup.

  15. Thomas Partey, Arsenal 2020-21
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    Ghana

    Star Man: Thomas Partey

    There are some accusations that he doesn't always deliver his best for Arsenal, but when on song, he can truly shape a contest.

  16. Karl Toko Ekambi Cameroon 2019
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    Cameroon

    Star Man: Karl Toko Ekambi

    Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting remains influential, but Toko Ekambi can provide the firepower to help the hosts compensate for a muddled few years in international football.

  17. Franck Kessie, AC Milan 2020-21
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    Ivory Coast

    Star man: Franck Kessie

    Midfield powerhouse who is enjoying a fine season at AC Milan, for whom he has become a prolific contributor.

  18. Oghenekaro Etebo, Wahbi Khazri - Tunisia vs. Nigeria
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    Tunisia

    Star man: Wahbi Khazri

    Struggled to make his mark in England with Sunderland, but he's proven his quality as a goal threat in a more advanced role since returning to France with Saint-Etienne.

  19. Mohamed Salah of Egypt vs Kenya.
    Goal Kenya.

    Egypt

    Star Man: Mohamed Salah

    Surely one of Africa's all-time greats, Salah has still maintained his own high standards for Liverpool this season despite the Reds' own troubles.

  20. Victor Osimhen
    Twitter/NFF

    Nigeria

    Star Man: Victor Osimhen

    Not entirely convincing during his maiden season with Napoli, but Osimhen was Africa's joint top scorer during the entire qualifying campaign, and could really come of age in Cameroon.

  21. Riyad Mahrez Algeria
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    Algeria

    Star Man: Riyad Mahrez

    Influential as Algeria clinched the title last time around, and he's since won further major honours with Manchester City. He could be at his best in 2022.

  22. Hakim Ziyech - Chelsea
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    Morocco

    Star Man: Hakim Ziyech

    Achraf Hakimi and Youssef En-Nesyri are quality assets for Morocco, but it's Ziyech who will truly shape the Atlas Lions' attack and could give them the edge in Cameroon.

  23. Sadio Mane, Adlene Guedioura - Algeria vs Senegal
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    Senegal

    Star Man: Sadio Mane

    He played a key role as Senegal reached the final in 2019, but could the Liverpool superstar ensure they go one better in Cameroon?