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Sadio Mane. ((Instagram)

The 10 Best African Players in the 2018 World Cup

10 African players who have a real chance to shine at this year's World Cup.

You know what the best part of the World Cup is? Everyone gets their chance to make something incredible happen for themselves; each and every player on the pitch has the glimmering chance to drag their team along to unforeseen heights, or drop them off the cliff into football infamy.

This rings no truer than for the players of the five African squads that are warming up and getting a feel for the spring of stadium grass in Russia as you read this. These are the 10 players who have the very real chance to bring the glory of the glory of a textured-gold World Cup trophy back to Africa for the first time in the tournament's history.


10. Wabhi Khazri (Tunisia)

Khazri, with no glibness at all, has the most pressure on him out of any player on this list. An underrated striker with a good story; he's taking on the hopes of Tunisia after a recent string of injuries to Youssef Msakni, Taha Yassine Khenissi and Ben Amor ravaged their attacking capability. Khazri is a natural striker and Tunisia will need his nose-for-goal if they're to make it out of a group featuring Belgium, England and Panama. That being said, with his absolutely deadly strikes, Khazri is the one man with the footballing gifts to raise the Tunisian squad to greater heights.

9. Medhi Benatia (Morocco)

The Moroccan squad, if anything this year, is being underestimated. There is one man wearing the red, white and green of his country who takes exception to this. That's Benatia, the Juventus veteran defender and stalwart of the Moroccan national team. A real presence at the back, he's the captain for his country and an absolute lock down presence drifting in towards the box.

8. Ahmed Fathy (Egypt)

Fathy is absolutely nothing except the epitome of consistency for Egyptian national football. He's been a top defensive back for the national team since 2002, consistently taking on the most daunting of defensive assignments. This year he's hoping to be frustrating opposing strikers while feeding into Egypt's brilliance in attack. At 34, expect Fathy to play with every fiber of energy he can muster for all 90 minutes as it may well be his last crack at glory.

7. Alex Iwobi (Nigeria)

Simply put, the guy can straight up fly, his speed is rapidly becoming the stuff of folklore. The streaking Nigerian has the all-too-real capability of wearing his opponents late in games and simply blowing by them early on. The Arsenal FC winger has the potential to tip the scales in the Super Eagles favor with his ability to get in behind defenders. Playing against Iwobi must be the stuff of nightmares for the unfit.

6. Cheikhou Kouyaté (Senegal)

Kouyaté is one of keys to the balance that Senegal holds coming into Russia later this week. Games of football are won and lost in the midfields, and no one exemplifies this mid-fielding mindset like Kouyaté. He's a jack of all trades, outstanding at clawing possession away, while holding it in a death grip for his own squad. He's that classic player who can dive in front of a streaking shot on one end, then pop it in the net at the other. Whatever the fate of Senegal will be in 2018, Kouyaté will be an integral part.

5. John Obi Mikel (Nigeria)

Nigeria is coming into this World Cup with chips on their shoulders the size of cinderblocks. That's Obi Mikel in a nutshell, a wily veteran mid with a lot to prove in this cup. He's one of the oldest members of Nigeria's youth packed squad and they'll need him to show his mettle during the emotionally exhausting pressure of the World Cup stage. Watch out for Obi Mikel, he possesses every trick in the book and probably wrote up a couple of subsequent sequels.

4. Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal)

If you're a fan of football, it truly is a tall order not to dig on the play of Koulibaly, He's a back's back, incredibly versatile, adaptable and no BS to be found. He's been outstanding as an enforcing defender Napoli in Italy's Serie A. When you put Koulibaly on this talented on a Senegal squad, he's the quintessential 'straw the stirs the drink'; the type to lift up the spirits of a troubled member of the squad, or throw an elbow to thwart any relevant shot on goal by an opponent.

3. Victor Moses (Nigeria)

Moses is the definition of a do-it-all wing back, and he looks to be the 'glue guy' for Nigeria in this the coming days and weeks. He's the guy that can do it all and fill in some gaps that his team didn't know they had. Moses has been on the grand stages for Chelsea in recent years and is no stranger to the crushing heat of camera lights. Surely Nigeria (as the youngest team in the 2018 field) will need his presence and every ounce of Moses's seemingly never-ending motor. Watch out for him cutting up the wings, and the deadly possibility of him scoring from the head off of set pieces.

2. Sadio Mané (Senegal)

Mané has been in nothing short of spectacular form within recent months. He nearly managed to single handedly drag his undermanned Liverpool squad to upset the dynastic Real Madrid in the Champions League final in Kiev a few weeks back. Now he's at the forefront of a stacked Senegal squad, the kind of team with the depth and balance to make a real run at breaking through in Moscow. Mané is creativity incarnate, his dribbling is decadent, and his passes travel on razor thin margins at impossible angles. The never-say-die attitude he brings to the table could be all the difference in a close match.

1. Mo Salah (Egypt)

I'm not biased as a Liverpool fan, I swear. Right now Salah's more influential than the president of Egypt and that is not an exaggeration. He's that damn good. No, that's a gross understatement: Salah is transcendent; he envisions seams that were long since shut, he lets shots fly that have no earthly right to travel as they do, his dribbling ability will be the stuff of epic poems. Salah is worthy of this number one spot, as he more than any other has the skill and utter drive to flip a match on its head single handedly, changing fortunes (in the case of Russian gambling dens, literally) and inverting the outlook of hopes that looked to be wandering the streets of Cairo. With a relatively weak group (Uruguay, hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia) the striker has a clear chance to carry Egypt through to the second round, where anything can happen.

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Photo courtesy of Junior Achievement Africa

Tonight, Come Join Junior Achievement Africa in New York City

Frank Aswani, Special Advisor for Strategic Initiatives at Higherlife Foundation will be giving the keynote speech at the Facebook offices about investing in Africa's future.

Sponsored content from Junior Achievement Africa

In just 15 years, Africa will have the largest workforce in the world. How we prepare them now will determine the course of our businesses and our economies.

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Photo courtesy of Junior Achievement Africa

Join JA Africa, Facebook and OkayAfrica for an evening to learn why youth economic empowerment is important in Africa and how you too can invest in Africa's future. You will hear the stories of JA Africa alumni—brilliant young Africans who are changing the trajectory of the continent.

Our keynote speaker, Frank Aswani, Special Advisor for Strategic Initiatives at Higherlife Foundation, will also be speaking about the importance of work and economic growth for youth. Until last month, Frank led the Business Development team at African Leadership Academy delivering on corporate partnerships, network development and managing strategic relationships.

We hope to see you this Friday, September 21st at 6:30 PM at Facebook's office: 225 Park Avenue South. Email juniorachievementafrica@eventsatfacebook.com with your full name and email address to RSVP.

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Photo: Zahara Abdul.

The Spirit of Nyege Nyege, Africa's Best Underground Music Festival

It was a non-stop four-day celebration of music, art and culture.

The thousands of local and foreign party-goers who made their way to the Nile Discovery Beach Resort in Jinja, Uganda for this year's MTN Nyege Nyege festival had a weekend of intense fun in store for them

Upon arrival, visitors are greeted by the town's most significant geographical sight. Jinja Town prides itself of sitting right along the northern shores of Lake Victoria, next to the source of the River Nile. From several parts of the district, one can get a stunning view of the famous river as it starts its journey to the Mediterranean Sea.

The annual four-day festival also breathes life into this otherwise laid-back and charming town. With the introduction of MTN as a sponsor, Nyege Nyege promised a bigger and better event. This would include a venue tripled in size, with two additional stages (Spirit of UG stage and Dark Star Stage) and a larger self-contained camping area. For those who do not favour camping, there were several hotels and guesthouses near the city centre, a few minutes by motorcycle taxi (bodaboda) to the venue.

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Audio

Mannywellz & Adekunle Gold's 'Yeoo' Will Soundtrack Your Weekend

You're going to have this one on repeat.

Mannywellz is a buzzing Nigerian-born artist whose music blends influences from hip-hop, RnB and West African rhythms. His recent Soulfro EP has earned him millions of streams online and he's even opened for Jidenna on tour across the US.

Manny is now sharing his latest single "Yeoo," an uplifting and addictive remix of his Soulfro standout track that sees him link up with Nigeria's Adekunle Gold.

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