GOAL celebrate the African stars who took their game to new heights over the last 12 months
We already knew that Kudus was good last season, but during the second half of 2022, he’s established himself as one of Africa’s most effective stars.
He made only four starts for Ajax last term, but has already made 14 appearances and scored five in the Eredivisie this season.
He’s already proved his class in the Champions League – with four goals in six games – while his double for Ghana at the World Cup also set him apart as the future of the Black Stars.
A consistent figure in various post-World Cup Teams of the Tournament, Amrabat was the lynchpin at the heart of the Atlas Lions’ midfield, playing a key role in protecting the backline and helping the North Africans launch attacks.
Indeed, he can take a lot of credit for their excellent defensive record, while his crunching tackle on Kylian Mbappe in the semi-final defeat by France was one of the highlights of the tournament for admirers of the defensive side of the game.
A Serie A stalwart at Fiorentina, he appears destined for a big move in 2023.
Udogie enjoyed an excellent debut season at Udinese after signing on loan from Hellas Verona, netting five goals from wing-back and breaking into the Italy U-21 squad.
His form prompted interest from Tottenham Hotspur, who promptly signed the attacking wideman on a five-year deal in August.
Back in Udine on loan this season, Udogie has already had a hand in three goals so far this season, and Nigeria’s Super Eagles need to up their efforts if they’re going to secure the future of this talented youngster.
20-year-old Ouattara only scored once in 25 Ligue 1 appearances last term and, in truth, showed little evidence that he was destined for such a magnificent campaign this time around.
However, he’s been one of the outstanding players in the French top flight during the opening months of the season – he’s already had a hand in nine goals in 14 games – and proved influential in Les Merlus’ continental push so far.
AC Milan are reportedly keeping tabs on the left-footed right winger, who has proved to be a lethal threat when cutting in from wide areas.
Another under-the-radar star who is helping Ligue 1 retain its reputation as the ‘League of Talents’ is Ounahi, who was one of the heroes of Morocco’s run to the World Cup semis.
He enjoyed lofty praise from Luis Enrique in the aftermath of their Last 16 defeat of Spain, with the ex-Barcelona manager singling the midfielder out for praise, and the head coach was stunned that the youngster was playing for Ligue 1’s basement club Angers.
He won’t be there for much longer, having surely attracted the attention of bigger clubs with his dynamism, defensive anticipation and intelligent use of the ball in Morocco’s midfield.
It’s one of the great mysteries of modern Ghanaian football that Paintsil was overlooked for Otto Addo’s Black Stars squad.
He’s been magnificent in the Belgian Jupiler League with Genk so far this season – having a hand in 12 goals in 15 games – having earlier hinted at his quality in the Turkish Super Lig with Ankaragucu.
Paintsil was one of the bright lights during a miserable Africa Cup of Nations campaign for the Black Stars, and it’s baffling that Addo opted to cut him from proceedings.