The talent on display at the Africa U-20 Cup of Nations in Mauritania has been plentiful with players from all positions excelling. After a group stage that featured surprises and breakout performances, here is a list of players who have caught the attention of Pan-Africa Football:
Abdul Fatawu – Ghana (Standfast Babies) DOB: 8 March 2004
One of the youngest players in the competition at 16 looks like a seasoned pro when he’s on the ball. Abdul Fatawu is a player who isn’t even in the Ghana Premier League currently, making his name last season with Division One side Standfast Babies where he accumulated goals and assists. The young attacking midfielder/forward possesses a magical left foot and excellent close control of the ball to go along with ability on set pieces. Highlights below show how the sky is the limit for Fatawu and his emergence is easily one of the stories of the tournament.
El Mehdi Moubarik – Morocco (FUS Rabat) DOB: 22 January 2001
On the other end of the age spectrum, central midfielder El Mehdi Moubarik is among the tournament’s more professionally experienced players at 20. Moubarik has already made a couple of starts for FUS Rabat in Morocco’s Botola Pro, so he had no problem playing at a high speed from the start. Particularly impressive was his performance against Ghana where Moubarik constantly disrupted any rhythm the Black Satellites tried to develop. At his best when reacting and zipping around to break up attacks.
The central defense pairing of captain Moustapha Ouédraogo and Yacouba Nasser Djiga have headlined a physical and punishing Burkinabé side. Both are approaching ten appearances this season in domestic football as regulars at their clubs and are still under 20 at this point. A perfect pairing, Ouédraogo is a bit smaller but makes up for it with crunching challenges and leadership. Djiga is taller yet more technical and comfortable with the ball at his feet on either foot. The clips below start with Ouédraogo followed by Djiga.
Silly Sanghare (#23 in picture) – Mauritania (Chamois Niortais) DOB: 24 February 2001
It is a shame that the hosts will not be part of the tournament any longer, if anything because it means we will not see anymore of Silly Sanghare. The winger never saw a defender (or three) that he could not dribble by and his swashbuckling style of attacking was a joy to watch. Part of Mauritania’s European-based contingent, Sanghare just turned 20 and has yet to make his professional debut in France at Chamois Niortais.