Seven players who could emerge as stars of the AFCON, including Ilaix Moriba and Kamaldeen Sulemana

Europe’s top clubs will have an eye on the Africa Cup of Nations this month as they try to spot the continent’s next big things. Matt Whiley selects seven who could end the tournament in great demand.

On Sunday, the 33rd Africa Cup of Nations will kick off in Cameroon, as 24 countries battle it out to be crowned continental champions.

Over 29 days, six venues will host 52 matches. With every competing nation taking a squad of 28, that means 672 players vying to make their mark on the tournament.

Planet Sport picks out seven emerging talents who could make this year's event their own.

Edmond Tapsoba (Burkina Faso)

Edmond Tapsoba Bayer Leverkusen Dec21

Tapsoba is a 6ft 4in centre-back who plies his trade for Bundesliga outfit Bayer Leverkusen. Part of a Burkina Faso side making their AFCON debut, he is renowned for his marking and tackling abilities and has an impressive passing range. The 22-year-old provides a calming influence at the heart of the back line, with composure and decision-making beyond his years.

He scored his only Bundesliga goal to date with a 94th-minute equalising strike against Augsburg in February last year, proving his ability in the clutch moments too.

Ilaix Moriba (Guinea)

Moriba is an 18-year-old central midfielder who came through Barcelona's famed La Masia academy before departing for RB Leipzig last summer.

He officially changed his international allegiances from Spain to Guinea shortly before the move, granting his superb technical, passing, and dribbling abilities to the National Elephants.

Given that Guinea have been issued an ultimatum by the country's president of "bring back the trophy or bring back the money we invested in you", the side may well be feeling the pressure. However, it is certainly a major boost to them to know they are taking a wonderkid of Moriba's calibre to the tournament.

Ibrahim Sangare (Ivory Coast)

Ibrahim Sangare PSV Nov21

Sangare is another midfielder, with a defensive mindset, who plays for Dutch side PSV Eindhoven. He fills the role of enforcer, patrolling in front of the defence, and at 6ft 3in with an aggressive, tireless mindset, does so extremely effectively.

He recycles the ball well, making use of his long legs to be a handy interceptor, and when that doesn't work, he happily dives into a tackle.

Once he has the ball at his feet, he can make use of his dribbling and passing skills, and with three international goals to his name from 17 caps, also provides a direct proven threat himself.

Abubeker Nassir (Ethiopia)

Few outside of Ethiopia may have heard of 21-year-old striker Nassir, but if he has the sort of tournament his considerable promise suggests he could have, that will change.

He currently plays for Ethiopian Coffee SC in his homeland's Premier League, scoring four goals this season.

He also has four goals for his country, in 15 appearances, and has demonstrated impressive technical ability, while his 6ft 2in frame also makes him an aerial threat.

Keep your eyes open for Nassir, as if he fulfills his potential, he's definitely the sort you can boast about having seen first.

Samuel Chukwueze (Nigeria)

Samuel Chukwueze Villarreal Dec21

Winger Chukwueze is more of a known quantity, playing for Villarreal in Spain's La Liga after moving from his homeland in 2017.

Having idolised compatriot Jay-Jay Okocha growing up, the sky's the limit for this determined youngster who dreams of emulating Dutch legend Arjen Robben.

The 22-year-old operates best on the right flank, but can also play on the left, and makes use of a seriously impressive first touch, alongside lightning pace and precocious dribbling skills.

He has three goals at domestic level this season, and could now be set for a breakout international tournament too.

Mohamed Camara (Mali)

Mohamed Camara Red Bull Leipzig Sep21

Camara is a central midfielder who will line up at AFCON alongside Brighton's Yves Bissouma, giving Mali a fascinatingly talented core in the middle of the park.

He plies his domestic trade for Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, and although he isn't the most aesthetically pleasing of players, he does his job, and he does it well.

What Camara lacks in dazzling flair, he makes up for in stamina and hard work, with his value underlined by his 16 starts for Salzburg in all competitions this season.

He is a player who rather defies the stats, with no goals or assists, but he shouldn't be concerned, with Salzburg, and now Mali, all the richer for having him.

Kamaldeen Sulemana (Ghana)

The last man on this list is Sulemana, who is a left-sided winger for Stade Rennais in France's Ligue 1, and he has been ever-present for his club this season.

His five goals and two assists in 23 appearances mark him as a standout, and set him up perfectly ahead of his first international tournament.

Previously of Nordsjaelland in Denmark, where he hit 14 goals last season, he has shown off his rapid pace and impressive technical ability, belying his tender age of just 19.

Having already taken on the No. 10 shirt at club level, he is highly regarded even at this early stage in his career and has all the attributes to emerge on to the world scene at AFCON.

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