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5 lesser-known African stars who could shine at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar

Tunisia v Algeria - FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021 Final
Tunisia v Algeria - FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021 Final

Africa has always provided some of the best entertainment at the FIFA World Cup over the years. African teams have delivered a number of very impressive performances in the competition's recent history, making them a force to be reckoned with on the global stage.

In the 1994 FIFA World Cup, Nigerian legend Jay-Jay Okocha rose to prominence, as did El-Hadji Diouf of Senegal in 2002. In the 2006 edition of the FIFA World Cup, Michael Essien was a force of nature for Ghana, and Asamoah Gyan took on the mantle in 2010 on African soil.

Algeria's Yacine Brahimi impressed in Brazil in 2014, and Peter Etebo impressed in the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The 2022 edition of the FIFA World Cup provides another chance for African players to stake their claim on a global stage.

With star names such as Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Victor Osimhen, and Riyad Mahrez missing out for various reasons, there is room for a new crop of stars to emerge. Without further ado, here are five lesser-known African stars who may have a big impact in the 2022 FIFA World Cup.


#5 Hannibal Mejbri (Tunisia)

Tunisia v Egypt: Semi-Final - FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021
Tunisia v Egypt: Semi-Final - FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021

Teenage star Hannibal Mejbri is one of the most highly-rated players to come out of the Manchester United academy in recent years. The 19-year-old has featured for the Red Devils' first team and is heading to his third tournament with Tunisia.

Originally born in France, Mejbri decided to represent the country of his parents in 2021. The teenager was sent out on loan at the start of the 2022-23 season to acquire first-team experience and get a few minutes.

He plays for Birmingham City in the EFL Championship and has 15 appearances to his name this season. Known for his tenacity and confidence on the ball, Mejbri may bring a different dimension to how his team will play in Qatar.

Mejbri is a full international with the Carthage Eagles, having made his debut in 2021. The midfielder has already made 18 appearances for Tunisia and has played in two tournaments already. The 2022 FIFA World Cup is being held in Qatar, the country where Mejbri first represented Tunisia in a tournament, the FIFA Arab Cup.


#4 Abde Ezzalzouli (Morocco)

Paraguay v Morocco - International Friendly
Paraguay v Morocco - International Friendly

FC Barcelona starlet Abde Ezzalzouli will be appearing in his first major tournament at international level for Morocco. The 20-year-old winger enjoyed an impressive breakout season at Camp Nou and now looks set to possibly impact the FIFA World Cup with the Atlas Lions.

Ezzalzouli was one of the youngsters Barcelona turned to in 2021-22 as they faced a variety of challenges, and he played his part in helping the club. He transferred to Osasuna on loan ahead of the 2022-23 season and has appeared eight times for them.

Ezzalzouli was coveted for his talents, and Morocco quickly approached him ahead of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations. He was unable to join up with the squad then, but has already appeared in two friendlies. He will be looking to perform impressively for his country at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.


#3 Salis Samed (Ghana)

Ghanaian midfielder Salis Samed is set for his international bow in Qatar
Ghanaian midfielder Salis Samed is set for his international bow in Qatar

After their exploits at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, Ghana have failed to impress at the Mundial. The Black Stars will look to some younger players, such as Salis Samed, for inspiration in Qatar.

RC Lens midfielder Salis Samed has been one of the best midfielders in the French Ligue 1 this season. The 22-year-old impressed at Clermont Foot in the 2021-22 season and earned a move to Lens, where he has continued to shine. His performances have helped Lens reach second place in Ligue 1, behind only PSG.

Salis Abdul Samed, the πŸ‡¬πŸ‡­ midfielder of Lens, ranked 6th best player in the French top-flight by L'equipe newspaper, will be a key player for the Black Stars at #WorldCup. He is the next Essien. https://t.co/zMuyVv19zg

Samed earned his first invitation to the senior Ghanaian national team on the back of his consistent performances. The midfielder immediately showed his class as the Black Stars defeated Switzerland 2-0 on his debut ahead of the FIFA World Cup.


#2 Iliman Ndiaye (Senegal)

Sheffield United v Queens Park Rangers - Sky Bet Championship
Sheffield United v Queens Park Rangers - Sky Bet Championship

With the talismanic Sadio Mane ruled out through injury, there is room for a new Senegalese hero at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Many may argue that Sheffield United attacker Iliman Ndiaye stands a very good chance of doing just that.

Ndiaye is a fleet-footed forward capable of playing across the front line. The 22-year-old has impressed greatly in the Championship with Sheffield United. Similar to Mane in his eagerness to press opponents and brilliant dribbling skills, Ndiaye is a supremely talented player. He has nine goals and two assists in the Championship this season.

Sheffield United shouldn't fear a World Cup masterclass from Iliman Ndiaye. I would be good for him, good for them and, let's be honest, every recruitment expert worth their salt already knows who he is anyway. #sufc #twitterblades thestar.co.uk/sport/football…

Ndiaye already made his Senegal debut in June 2022 and added a second cap in September. The forward was born to a French mother but will represent the African champions at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.


#1 Bryan Mbeumo (Cameroon)

Brentford FC v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League
Brentford FC v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League

Brentford forward Bryan Mbeumo is one of the most recognizable players from the English club. The France youth international will be at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, representing his father's country.

Mbeumo has enjoyed a great deal of success since joining Brentford for a club-record fee in 2019. The 23-year-old forward has developed a partnership with Ivan Toney at the club, and the pair have blossomed. Mbeumo has three goals and an assist in 16 appearances for the Bees this season.

Bryan Mbeumo has revealed how Samuel Eto'o convinced him to ditch France πŸ‡«πŸ‡· for Cameroon πŸ‡¨πŸ‡² πŸ—£οΈ https://t.co/LeJjY2AkF8

Mbeumo was swayed to play for Cameroon in 2021 after meeting with Samuel Eto'o. The forward has made three appearances in friendlies for the Indomitable Lions and will be one of their stars at the Mundial.

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Edited by Yasho Amonkar
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