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January, 7 2024.

Africa's football stage is set to pulsate with the rhythms of the 34th edition of the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Côte d'Ivoire, taking place from January 13th to February 11th. This grand tournament promises a showcase of African football brilliance, with an array of exceptional talents gracing the fields.

Here are the top five players anticipated to illuminate AFCON 2023:

1. Victor Osimhen (Nigeria, 25)

Current African Footballer of the Year, Victor Osimhen, spearheads Nigeria's quest for their first AFCON title since 2013. Renowned for his pivotal role in Napoli's Serie A victory last season, the 24-year-old is esteemed as one of the world's top strikers.

Despite still donning a protective facial mask due to an eye socket injury that sidelined him from AFCON 2021, Osimhen recently committed to a fresh contract with Napoli.

With an impressive tally of 20 goals in just 27 national appearances, Osimhen is poised to surpass Rashidi Yekini's Super Eagles record of 37 goals. His immediate aspiration, however, is steering Nigeria to a fourth AFCON title, understanding that a strong goal-scoring record could heighten his value at Napoli.le.

2. Sadio Mané (Senegal, 31)

Voted the most valuable player of the last AFCON, Sadio Mané, continues to be the focal point for the Lions of Teranga. Despite his move to Saudi Arabia last summer, Mané remains the guiding force and captain, spearheading Senegal's ambitions for consecutive victories. He will be crucial for the Lions of Teranga, if they are to defend the trophy they won two years ago in Cameroon.

3. Mohammed Kudus (Ghana, 23)

A dynamic force at West Ham United in England's Premier League, Mohammed Kudus, with his explosive speed and remarkable goal-scoring prowess, positions himself as a key figure for Ghana's quest for a fifth TotalEnergies AFCON title.

After fantastic years at Ajax, he is now in the eyes of the world in the EPL. His left foot carries venom, and he will definitely be a driving pivot for the Black Stars of Ghana. With age catching up with longstanding skipper, Andre Ayew, the new prince might just take his crown at the AFCON.

4. Mohamed Salah (Egypt, 31)

Continuing his impressive streak, Mohamed Salah, the Liverpool star and Egyptian national team leader guides his team through unscathed qualifiers, showcasing his goal-scoring prowess on both club and national levels. The last AFCON was particularly disappointing for the Pharaohs, the most successful team at the AFCON with seven titles. However the North Africans will be hoping Salah brings all his goals from Merseyside to Abidjan. With 14 goals and 8 assists in 20 EPL games this season, he represents a bag of thorns to any defence.

5. Achraf Hakimi (Morocco, 25)

A pivotal player in Morocco's historic FIFA World Cup semi final run, Achraf Hakimi's versatility and attacking prowess from the right-back position underscore his significance in shaping Morocco's ambitions in the tournament. He has contributed 7 goals in 14 games for PSG in the Ligue 1, he stands as one of the best in his position globally. The Atlas Lions will make do with his experience.

The AFCON 2023 promises to showcase the brilliance and skill of these exceptional players, and of course unearth new superstars, who will captivate football enthusiasts across the continent and beyond.

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