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Sports News of Monday, 17 June 2019


Power Ranking of potential Africa Cup of Nations top scorers

#9 Knowledge Musona

Admittedly, players from smaller footballing nations are outsiders to clinch top-scorer awards in major tournaments, but Zimbabwe have such attacking quality going forward, that Musona deserves a mention.

He bagged five goals during qualification—only two players scored more—and this was despite the Warriors being pooled in a tricky group.

He dovetails superbly with Khama Billiat, and is certainly one to watch, even though the southern Africans again have an ominous first-round challenge.

8 Fiston Abdul Razak

One of the most underrated players in the African game today, Fiston scored four goals during the World Cup 2018 qualifying campaign, and followed that up with a further six as Burundi secured their first Afcon qualification this time around.

He’ll form part of an excellent forward line alongside Cedric Amissi and Saido Berahino, but just how far will Les Hirondelles go in the tournament proper?

A favourable group-stage draw could give the former Bloemfontein Celtic man the chance to shine.

#7 Percy Tau

Bafana Bafana have won many plaudits for their defensive solidity under Stuart Baxter, they conceded just two and kept four clean sheets during qualification, but in Tau, they also have an eye-catching attacking threat.

The versatile forward, who is a threat with his pace, movement and intelligence in possession, netted twice as South Africa edged past Libya at the weekend, and gives the national side a cutting edge.

Bafana need him to be in top form, particularly following Keagan Dolly's injury misery.

#6 M’Baye Niang

Niang is the first of two Senegal players in this list, with the Teranga Lions the joint-third top scorers during qualification.

The powerful attacker appears set to lead the line for Aliou Cisse’s side, where he’ll both run the lines effectively and represent physical threat.

Plus, he’s sure to have ample support in the form of Sadio Mane, Ismaila Sarr and Keita Balde, and Kenya and Tanzania may struggle to cope with him.

#5 Cedric Bakambu

Africa’s most expensive player was the hero for the Democratic Republic of Congo on the final day of Afcon qualification, netting the winner to down Liberia and send the Leopards to Egypt.

If they can bounce back after a disappointing qualifying campaign, they’ll be contenders, and Bakambu, who scored 19 in 23 for Beijing Guoan, will be their primary goalscoring threat.

Again, however, like Musona, he's been pooled in a tricky opening group.

#4 Odion Ighalo

Ighalo has received his fair share of criticism from Nigeria fans, and endured a testing World Cup.

Nonetheless, he responded superbly, and ended the qualifying campaign as the top scorer across the whole of Africa.

Critically, five of his seven goals game in the decisive double-header against Libya, and considering Kelechi Iheanacho’s decline, he doesn’t have much competition to lead the line for the Super Eagles.

With a talented support cast, he can surely bag a few against Madagascar, Guinea and Burundi.

#3 Baghdad Bounedjah

The Algeria hitman, like a few others on this list, may play in a ‘lesser’ league, but he’s still first-choice for Les Fennecs, despite their wealth of attacking options.

He scored a ridiculous 60 goals during 2018—earning a spot in Goal’s African Team of the Year—and will have support from the likes of Riyad Mahrez, Adam Ounas, Sofiane Feghouli and Yacine Brahimi.

#2 Sadio Mane

Mane is currently in the form of his life, and even though he’s not an out-and-out striker, must feature prominently among the potential golden boot candidates.

He scored 22 goals in 36 Premier League outings last term, and as he demonstrated against Bayern Munich in Liverpool's Champions League-winning campaign, has the quality to settle the biggest games.

His pace and technique makes him a serious threat in Egypt.

#1 Mohamed Salah

Despite concerns about his current form, Salah has to be our pick as favourite for the golden boot…assuming this season doesn’t take too much out of him.

He was Africa's joint top scorer during the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, and his record-breaking goal return at Liverpool has been well-documented.

The forward scored 22 in the Prem last season, following on from 32 last term.

Home advantage should also help…

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