Steven Pienaar, Kwadwo Asamoah & Africa's Top Five football academy products

Goal.com profiles a few of the fine players from Africa who emerged from the football academy system to become stars in various parts of Europe
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By Kent Mensah

Africa, it is often said, does not lack in the production of football stars despite its poor facilities. Fine players have emerged from the dusty streets to shine on the pristine pitches of Europe.

One area where players have often been produced on an impressive scale is the football academy system, which boasts household names making a mark in the beautiful game's top-flight competitions in Europe.

Goal.com takes a look at five such players who have contributed to both club and country as they seek to make a case for the numerous football schools on the continent.
5. SANI EMMANUEL (Nigeria & Lazio)

The 18-year-old came into the limelight when he played a prominent role during Nigeria's Under-17 campaign at the 2009 Fifa Youth Championship. He single-handedly powered the Golden Eaglets to the final of the tournament through his impressive goals.

Emmanuel won both the U17 Golden Ball and Silver Shoe. He came from the My People club serving as an academy to help talented footballers polish and develop their skills.

4. AFRIYIE ACQUAH (Ghana & Palermo)

The 18-year-old is Palermo's new teenage Ghanaian star. He took the path-less-travelled to Sicily via Glentoran in Belfast's east side. Acquah grew up in Ghana’s Sunyani. Thanks to Glentoran Football Academy, now called Sillsport Football Academy, the youngster plays for the Serie A outfit.

He has a five-year deal with the Rosanero, which runs until 2016. “Acquah will become one of the Messis, Xavis or Iniestas in no distant time,” his mentor Christopher Forsythe once told Goal.com.

3. KNOWLEDGE MUSONA (Zimbabwe & Hoffenheim)

The 21-year-old emerged from the Aces Youth Soccer Academy in his native country of Zimbabwe. The training institution has carved a niche for itself as a hub for exporting quality strikers.

Young though he is, the former Kaizer Chiefs forward was one of the best marksmen on the continent before joining Hoffenheim this year. In 2010, he won the Premier Soccer League Club Rookie of the Year award and in the 2010-11 season he grabbed the Lesley Manyathela Golden Boot. Musona is clearly a star in the making. 

2. KWADWO ASAMOAH (Ghana & Udinese)

One of Liberty Professionals’ finest products is the 23-year-old Udinese midfielder. Over the years, Asamoah has been the creative force in the Ghana set-up and has been a delight to watch.

He has been an important player since arriving at the Stadio Friuli and is touted as a future dribbling maestro if he can keep his focus having won the Most Promising Africa Player award after the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations. Liberty Professionals can be very proud of their part in his development.

1. STEVEN PIENAAR (South Africa & Tottenham)

The Tottenham Hotspur attacking midfielder was a product of the Safa School of Excellence. The technical handlers saw his potential and recommended him to Ajax Cape Town’s youth academy.

The 29-year-old subsequently graduated to Dutch giants Ajax, the parent club of Ajax CT and played with the Amsterdam side between 2001 and 2006. Since then he has featured for Borussia Dortmund, Everton and Spurs. He has won the Dutch Eredivisie twice and an English FA Cup runners-up medal.


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