Africa has always been an integral part of the FIFA World Cup. They have pleasantly surprised the footballing universe with their recent performances in the finals and their progression in the tournament is no longer deemed an upset. Players like Samuel Eto'o, Didier Drogba, Jay Jay Okocha and Roger Milla have lit up several tournaments in the past with their mesmerizing performances.
The African continent will be heavily represented at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, with five of its nations participating in Qatar. Cameroon, Ghana, Senegal, Morocco and Tunisia will be hoping to make the continent proud by aiming to win the biggest prize in world football.
The African talent pool always churns out players who rise to the biggest stage. Due to the recent rise of such players, especially in Europe, a handful of such stars are expected to feature in Qatar. Most of them have given scintillating performances while playing for the biggest clubs in Europe in most of the top five leagues.
Without further ado, this article will take a look at the five most rated African players heading into the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
#5 Mohammed Kudus
Mohammed Kudus is currently one of numerous African players plying their trade in Europe who are bound to impress in Qatar. The Ajax forward was selected by Black Stars coach Otto Addo as part of Ghana's 26-man squad list to play in the maiden football competition.
The 22-year-old forward has been a revelation for his club side Ajax this season, judging by his exceptional performances during the 2022-23 football campaign. Kudus has so far netted an impressive total of 10 goals in 21 games across all competitions for Ajax. Five such goals have come in the Eredivisie, while scoring four in the UEFA Champions League against top teams such as Liverpool and Napoli.
At 22 years old, the stage is set for Kudus to make a grand entry on the world's biggest stage. He will be hoping to replicate his goal scoring form with Ajax this season for the Black Stars Qatar.
#4 Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting
Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting heads into the 2022 FIFA World Cup as one of the most in-form African players judging by his exploits with Bayern Munich. The Cameroon forward has scored 11 goals and three assists for the Bavarians this season in just 16 games across competitions. He is currently the club's third highest goal scorer for the 2022-23 campaign.
The forward has an impressive resume playing for top clubs such as Paris Saint-Germain and top leagues such as the Premier League with Stoke City. The 68-capped Cameroon international has 18 goals to his name, with his last goal coming against Algeria in the third round of World Cup qualifying in March.
The 33-year-old will be hoping to translate his ongoing form to his national team Cameroon in Qatar. He will be looking to take his country past his best ever quarter-final finish from the 1990 version.
#3 Achraf Hakimi
Another highly rated African player heading into the 2022 FIFA World Cup is Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) defender Achraf Hakimi. The 24-year-old player is an integral part of Morocco's senior men's national team and would be hoping to help the Atlas Lions go deep in Qatar.
Primarily a defender, Hakimi is also a strong attacking menace down the right flank and scores important goals. He scored one of four goals against DR Congo in the third round of qualifying in March, sealing a place for his country in the World Cup finals.
Hakimi's form heading into the competition has been quite impressive as he has scored three goals and three assists in 21 games across competitions for the French giants. At only 24 years old, he has amassed 53 caps for his country and scored eight goals.
#2 Thomas Partey
Thomas Partey will be one of the most notable African footballers to look out for during the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The Arsenal midfielder was selected among Ghana's 26-man squad, with high-profile stars such as Kudus, Inaki Williams and Ayew brothers, among others.
The defensive midfielder is an integral part of the Black Stars team. Recall that it was his solo strike in the second leg of the qualifying third round in March against Nigeria that secured Ghana's qualification for the World Cup in Qatar.
His club form has also been very impressive for Arsenal. The 29-year-old has scored two Premier League goals for Mikel Arteta's team, who are currently top of the table.
#1 Sadio Mane
Sadio Mane is arguably Africa's biggest player at the World Cup in Qatar with the likes of Mohamed Salah and Riyad Mahrez not participating. The Senegalese forward was selected by head coach Aliou Cissé, despite reports of the player not being fit enough for the competition due to injury.
The forward suffered an injury scare while playing for Bayern Munich against Werder Bremen in the penultimate match before the winter break. He is, however, expected to miss Senegal's opening fixtures at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Mane has inspired Senegal to great heights in the recent past, helping them win the Africa Cup of Nations held earlier in the year. He also helped them qualify for the World Cup by beating Egypt in the third round of qualifying.
Mane's club form this season has been impressive for Bayern Munich as he has registered a total of 11 goals and four assists. Should he be fit, the Senegalese all-time top scorer will be hoping to replicate such form for the Lions of Teranga in Qatar.