The biggest tournament in the continent kicks off today at Cairo International Stadium in Egypt where the hosts Egypt will take on Zimbabwe who will be appearing in the tournament for the fourth time..
The competition will feature some of the finest players playing in Europe and other parts of the world. We take a look at some of the players that play in the widely followed and watched English Premier League that will be on duty for their respective countries.
Mohamed Salah does not need an introduction for any football enthusiast. He is one of the dependable players for the hosts just as he is for English side, Liverpool where has been for the last two seasons.
Regarded as one of the best players in the world, the 27-years-old started his senior career with Cairo club El Mokawloon in the Egyptian Premier League in 2010. He later moved to swiss side, Basel for an undisclosed fee.
While in Switzerland, he starred by helping his side win the league title in his debut season and clinched the SAFP Golden Player Award in the process.
Salah’s performances then attracted Premier League side Chelsea, whom he joined for a £11 million fee in 2014. However, he was used sparingly in his debut season and was allowed to leave on loan to Serie A clubs Fiorentina and Roma, with the latter eventually signing him permanently for €15 million.
After consistent match-winning performances in Rome and leading them to second-placed finish and a record points-tally in 2017, Salah returned to the Premier League and signed for Liverpool for a then club-record fee of £36.9 million.
The 31-year-old plays as a right back for Premier League club Aston Villa who have been promoted to the top League this season and is the captain of the Egypt national team. He has scored thirteen goals in his duty in the land of the queen.
Mohamed Elneny is the other Egyptian professional footballer to watch in the tournament . He plays as a midfielder for Premier League club Arsenal and the Egypt national team after joining the side during Arsene Wenger reign.
The 26-year-old started his carer in Egypt before moving to Swiss club Basel in January 2013 and helped the side to win eight honours, including the Swiss Super League in each of his four seasons. In January 2016, he was transferred to Arsenal.
He’s arguably one of Kenya’s most successful footballers following the footpaths of his older brother, McDonald Mariga.
The defensive midfielder who plays for Tottenham Hotspur doubles as Stars captain became the first ever Kenyan player to score in the UEFA Champions League when he found the back of the net in Celtic’s 2–1 win over Barcelona on 7 November 2012.
He has played for international clubs for close to ten years and will be leading the side in the tournament.
The Manchester City winger will be leading the Arab nation of Algeria who are grouped against Kenya, Tanzania and Senegal and is one of the lethal players to watch in the tournament. His football career came to the limelight while he was with Leicester City in the Championship helping them get promoted to the Premier League and played a key role in helping the side win the English Premier League title in 2016.
Naby Keita, 24, features for UEFA Champions League winners, Liverpool, a side he joined in 2017 from Germany side, RB Leipzig. Although he initially struggled after joining the Reds ,he has steadily improved to become a key player for the Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Keita made his senior international debut for Guinea in 2013 earning over 30 caps. He was part of their squad at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations. He will lead his national team in the Group B which has favourites Nigeria Madagascar and underdogs, Burundi.
The Moroccan professional footballer plays for Premier League club Wolverhampton Wanderers and the Morocco national team as a defending midfielder.
The Cameroonian professional footballer plays as a left-back defender for Premier League side Brighton & Hove Albion and the Cameroon national team.
The speedy star previously played for Metz, Tours, Valenciennes, Olympiacos and Wigan Athletic . He also represented France at under-21 level before switching to his native Cameroon.
Andrew Ayew, Christian Atsu, Thomas Agyepong
Ghana, who are among the favourites has arguably one of the best squads in Africa which will be led by Andre ‘Dede’ Ayew, who currently plays for Fernabache on a loan from Swansea City FC.
Christian Atsu who plays for Premier League club Newcastle United and the Ghanaian national team will also be a vital organ in the Black Cats squad. He primarily plays as a winger, although he can also be deployed as an attacking midfielder.
Thomas Agyepong, who is a Manchester City winger although he is yet to feature for the Premier League winners is another player to watch. Agyepong has previously played for Dutch clubs Twente and NAC Breda, and Scottish club Hibernian. He has also made five full international appearances for Ghana.
Jonathan Kodjia, Wilfried Zaha, Serge Aurier
Jonathan Kodija who plays for a recently promoted side, Aston Villa in the Premier League will be the striker to watch in the Ivory Coast squad. He has scored 29 goals for Villa since he joined the team in 2016.
Wilfried Zaha who features for Crystal Palace will be the other man to watch in the Ivory Coast squad. He is a versatile quick forward who takes on defenders with ease.
He was born in the Ivory Coast and grew up in England from the age of four.He made two non-competitive appearances for England in 2012 and 2013 before switching his allegiances to the Ivory Coast ahead of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.
Ivory Coast back has some security which is led by Serge Aurier who plays as a right back for Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur. Aurier was part of the team that won the AFCON title in 2015.
Sadio Mane, Idrissa Gueye, Cheikhou Kouyate
Senegal will enjoy the services of Liverpool’s finest, Sadio Mane who was among the Golden boot award winners in the just concluded EPL season.Unfortunately, the striker who doubles as the side’s captain will not be in the squad that will face Tanzania in their first match of the tournament after he was suspended for one match.
Idrissa Gueye features for the English side, Everton as a midfielder after joining them from Aston Villa in 2016 and has scored 3 goals after 99 appearances. The last in the list of the Senegalese is Cheikhou Kouyate who is a midfielder for Crystal Palace.
Leon Balogun, Wilfried Ndidi, Iwobi, Henry Onyekuru
Balogun, a German-Nigerian professional footballer who plays as a defender for Premier League club Brighton & Hove Albion and has spent most of his football life in Germany.
Wilfriend Ndidi, a midfielder for Leicester will be completing the ball holding for the Nigeria team. The 22-year-old has been with the side for the past two seasons and has featured in 8matches scoring 4 goals.
Nigeria will also enjoy the services of Henry Onyekuru Nigerian professional footballer who plays as a forward for Galatasaray, on loan from Premier League club Everton, and the Nigeria national team. The forward scored 14 goals in his 31 appearances for the club in the ended season.
Arthur Masuaku, v
Musuaku is Congolese left-back to watch in the tournament. He is a French-born Congolese professional footballer who plays for English Premier League club West Ham United.
Yannick Bolasie is another player to watch in the DRC squad. He plays as a winger for Anderlecht but is on loan from Premier League club Everton.