Skip to content

AFCON 2023: Which players are set to shine and have Premier League eyes on them in Ivory Coast?

The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations starts on Saturday January 13 and Sky Sports will be showing every game of the 34th edition live; hosts Ivory Coast vs Guinea-Bissau in Abidjan opens the tournament; the final also takes place at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium on Sunday February 11

Every game of AFCON 2023 is live on Sky Sports. Ahead of the tournament, Sky Sports News have picked out some of the most exciting prospects in the tournament.

Let's start with the hosts who have decided to leave Wilfried Zaha in Turkey for the tournament.


Karim Konate and Ousmane Diomande

Karim Konate is likely to play understudy to Sebastien Haller in AFCON 2023
Image: Karim Konate has been in fine form for RB Salzburg

RB Salzburg have a habit of producing future Premier League forwards, with Sadio Mane and Erling Haaland both making their way in Austria. And Salzburg might be hoping that 19-year-old Karim Konate has a quiet tournament so they can keep hold of him a little longer.

Hailing from the same team in Ivory Coast as Yaya and Kolo Toure, Konate's performances and eight goals in the Austria Bundesliga this season suggest he has the potential to succeed like the strikers before him at RB Salzburg.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

A look at some of the best goals scored by African players in the Premier League including screamers from Tony Yeboah, Sadio Mane and Didier Drogba.

Konate's lightning pace and willingness to take on players will have Premier League clubs and fans watching him closely. However, with Sebastian Haller likely to lead the line, we may see Konate making cameos from the bench. They will certainly be worth looking out for.

Ousmane Diomande has seen himself linked with Liverpool, Chelsea and Newcastle
Image: Ousmane Diomande has previously been linked with Liverpool, Chelsea and Newcastle

People remember tournaments for the great goals and top goalscorers, but any team looking to win the Africa Cup of Nations needs a steady defence. It looks like Ivory Coast will put their trust in 20-year-old Ousmane Diomande for that.

Links to Liverpool, Newcastle and Chelsea have come after an impressive 2023 at Sporting, his third club in the space of two years.

Sporting's Ousmane Diomande has been linked with Liverpool

Diomande fits the bill of modern defender: strong, quick and comfortable on the ball. If he gets the nod ahead of experienced defender Wily Boly, don't be surprised to see those links to the Premier League get stronger and for a summer move to be on the cards.


Serhou Guirassy

Guirassy Stuttgart

Guirassy's 17 goals in the Bundesliga for Stuttgart have seen Manchester United monitor the striker, who is available for less than €20m in January.

In a tough group containing tournament favourites Senegal and Cameroon, if Guirassy can prove himself as a goal scorer on the biggest stage, his price will certainly make him desirable to teams in the Premier League. In his first four Bundesliga matches this season, the striker netted a remarkable eight goals from eight shots on target.

Serhou Guirassy was once again on the scoresheet as Stuttgart eased to a 3-0 Bundesliga win over Augsburg.
Image: Serhou Guirassy has been lethal in front of goal for Stuttgart

Standing at 6ft 2in, Guirassy looks a fit for the Premier League, with his penalty box finishing what we are likely to see in Ivory Coast, which could tempt any club struggling in front of goal to make a move for him.

Only Harry Kane is ahead of Guirassy in the Bundesliga top scorer list, but don't expect to see the Guinean drop deep like Kane and link the play. His one assist in the league is proof of Guirassy's priorities: goals, goals, goals. An injury suffered against Nigeria in a warm-up match is not expected to keep him out.


Victor Osimhen

Napoli's Victor Osimhen celebrates scoring during the Serie A soccer match between Frosinone Calcio and SSC Napoli, at the Benito Stirpe stadium in Frosinone, Italy, Saturday Aug. 19, 2023. (Alfredo Falcone/LaPresse via AP)
Image: Napoli's Victor Osimhen celebrates scoring during the Serie A soccer match between Frosinone Calcio and SSC Napoli, at the Benito Stirpe stadium in Frosinone, Italy, Saturday Aug. 19, 2023. (Alfredo Falcone/LaPresse via AP)

When the day comes where Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane hang up their international boots, it seems as though Victor Osimhen is lining himself up to take the place as the face of African football.

Last season's Serie A top scorer would force his way into that sphere by leading Nigeria to a first AFCON title since 2013 and a strong performance at the tournament certainly won't quiet down speculation regarding his future at Napoli.

Expect all action displays from a striker who doesn't have much missing from his game.


Ernest Nuamah

Ernest Nuamah is the latest Ghanian talent to come out of the Right to Dream academy
Image: Ernest Nuamah is the latest Ghanian talent to come out of the Right to Dream academy

If we go off the success of the Right to Dream Academy/Nordsjaelland partnership when developing African talent, Ernest Nuamah has a big chance of success. A move to Lyon this summer is a definite mark of success, although Lyon's disastrous season has made it hard for Nuamah to shine.

With Mohamed Kudus, the Ayew brothers, Antoine Semenyo and Inaki Williams in the ranks, Nuamah's impact from the wing may come from the bench at the start of this tournament.


But his ability to take on players will come in handy late in games and if Ghana start slowly, don't be surprised to see Chris Hughton turn to Nuamah.


Omar Marmoush

Omar Marmoush celebrates after scoring Eintracht Frankfurt's goal
Image: Omar Marmoush celebrates after scoring for Eintracht Frankfurt

Since choosing to represent Egypt instead of Canada, Eintracht Frankfurt's Omar Marmoush has gone on to form a strong personal relationship with Mohamed Salah. Could a strong performance in Ivory Coast see Marmoush join his countryman in the Premier League?

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Mohamed Salah reflects on his time in the Premier League and his pride in becoming the league's highest-scoring African.

A striker by trade, Marmoush has showed his versatility by playing all across the front line, and six goals in his first ten league appearances this season show his effectiveness as a forward. A goal and assist in Eintracht's 5-1 win over Bayern Munich show Marmoush's ability to do it on the big stage. He has only recently started to play for Egypt, which means he will likely need to oust former Aston Villa player Trezeguet to start in Ivory Coast.

Omar Mamoush opted to represent Egypt over Canada
Image: Omar Mamoush opted to represent Egypt over Canada

But if Marmoush brings his form in Germany to AFCON, he may well just help deliver Salah's first trophy for his country and see calls for him to join him in England.


Ismaila Sarr and Lamine Camara

Remember Ismaila Sarr? After a season in the Championship with Watford, Sarr transferred to Marseille last summer in a return to France where he started his professional career. A front three of Sadio Mane, Nicolas Jackson and Sarr sees tournament holders Senegal come into the competition as favourites. And Sarr can show why he belongs back at the big time with a strong showing in January.

Senegal's Ismaila Sarr

Midfielder Lamine Camara, 20, cites Idrissa Gueye as his football role model and if he carries on in the same fashion he's started his professional career, you can see him reaching the heights of the Everton man.

The energetic central midfielder came through the same youth system in Senegal as Mane and started his European career at Metz, also like Mane. Camara won player of the tournament as Senegal romped to victory in the U20 AFCON last year.

Lamine Camara won player of the tournament at last year's Under-20 AFCON
Image: Lamine Camara won player of the tournament at last year's Under-20 AFCON

If you haven't seen his David Beckham-like goal away at Monaco from the before the halfway line, get yourself searching on social media now - although the technique is more Wayne Rooney vs West Ham. Camara should sit alongside Gueye in Senegal's midfield and if he's not already on the radar of Premier League fans, it would be a shock if he isn't by the end of this tournament.


Edmond Tapsoba

Edmond Tapsoba has been at the heart of Bayer Leverkusen's defence for their strong first-half of the season
Image: Edmond Tapsoba has been at the heart of Bayer Leverkusen's this season

Things are going very well at Bayer Leverkusen this season and Edmond Tapsoba is playing his part in that. Tapsoba made the team of the tournament at the last Africa Cup of Nations but Leverkusen's form this season will have the centre-back on watch even more so this time around.

Comfortable on the ball with both feet, with a good passing range (93 per cent passing accuracy in the Bundesliga this season) and carrying ability, it's another chance for Tapsoba to shine this January. In a group containing Algeria, Angola and Mauritania, Burkina Faso will fancy a late run in the competition where Tapsoba will be crucial in any success.


Yankuba Minteh

Yankuba Minteh is on loan at Feyenoord from Newcastle.
Image: Yankuba Minteh is on loan at Feyenoord from Newcastle.

Newcastle fans will already be familiar with the prospect of Yankuba Minteh. But while most fans tuning into Senegal vs Gambia on January 15 will be expecting the excitement of Sadio Mane, don't be surprised if you come away wanting to see more of Minteh.

His form at Feyenoord has seen calls for Newcastle to recall him from his loan, but that will not be happening in order to allow him to carry on his development. His electric pace, eye for goal, and direct dribbling convinced Newcastle to sign him from Danish club OB before the loan in the Netherlands.

He ticked the Champions League goal target in December by scoring at Celtic Park, and with heavyweights Senegal and Cameroon in The Gambia's group, he will have a chance to convince Newcastle he's worth keeping around next season.

Win £250,000 with Super 6!
Win £250,000 with Super 6!

Correctly predict six scorelines to win £250,000 for free with Super 6. Entries by 3pm Saturday.

Around Sky