The 2013 edition of the African Nations Cup has come to an end with Nigeria emerging victorious against Burkina Faso in the final. There were many star performers in the campaign with John Obi Mikel in particular shining as perhaps the player of the tournament. Gervinho was in good form for Ivory Coast while Wakaso and Kwadwo Asamoah caught the eye for Ghana.
But which players who may have escaped your radar before the commencement in South Africa caught the eye sufficiently to get a mention as the emerging stars of Africa?
Jonathan Pitroipa - Burkina Faso & Lorient
The 26-year-old was named the player of the tournament after his performances for The Stallions and it is easy to understand. The lightning fast winger has previously played in Germany making something of an impact with Hamburg during his time in the Bundesliga. He finally seems to be living up to his bags of potential and after the injury to Alain Traore he revelled in the role of key-man for the team. His goal against Togo was the highlight of his and his countries tournament and he should be hopefully appreciated on a wider scale after his performances.
Godfrey Oboabona - Nigeria & Sunshine Stars
The versatile defender is one of the lesser known names in the triumphant Nigerian squad but that may not be the case for long. His performance against Ivory Coast might just be the best in the competition. Tasked with the job of marking the Chelsea legend Didier Drogba he bullied the Galatasaray striker for the entire game. He has been linked with a move away from his homeland and at 22-years-old you have to feel the time is right to test himself in Europe.
Mamadou Samassa - Mali & Guingamp
The goalkeepers at the African Nations often get plenty of stick so when catches my attention for the right reasons I feel it is only fair to give them the recognition they deserve. The giant Mali goalkeeper was one such exception. Good in the air and quick off his line the former French youth international was the best keeper at the competition.
Serge Akakpo - Togo & MSK Zilina
Highlighted as ‘one to watch’ before the competition started he did not disappoint. The captain was another former French youth international and was team-mates with Younes Kaboul and Abou Diaby at Auxerre but left France for Eastern Europe in 2009. His imperious performance against Algeria in the Group Stage was a sight to behold and his dream of joining his old friends in the Premier League may not be a wayward prophecy.
Sunday Mba - Nigeria & Warri Wolves/Enugu Rangers
Has anyone made more of an impact than this man? The centre of a transfer storm in his homeland he may soon find himself a wanted man on European shores after his explosive midfield performances in the knockout stage of the competition. Not content with scoring the winning goal against Ivory Coast he also wanted the winner in the final.
Here is the winning goal…
Can any of these players make it in Europe?