Africa's new stars have come out to shine


The likes of Didier Drogba, Michael Essien and Samuel Eto'o are well known across Europe and Africa, but the pundits point to the fact that there are other young stars emerging from the continent.

Below is a list of five of them, who, according to, can be safe in the knowledge that they have impressed perhaps enough to earn themselves a big move in the near future.

Alexandre Song (Cameroon)The 20-year-old may have already won himself his big move from French side Bastia to Arsenal, but the tournament has done him a world of good.

Playing regularly has helped Song’s case to break into the Arsenal first-team, showing strength, power and good distribution. His performance against the likes of Michael Essien and Sulley Muntari in the Ghana midfield in a tough semi-final was impressive and his presence was missed in the final after he limped off injured.

He may not displace the likes of Mathieu Flamini and Cesc Fabregas just yet, but the emergence of the Cameroon starlet could be one of the reasons why Arsene Wenger looks ready to offload Gilberto Silva in the summer.

Manucho (Angola)Another to have sealed his dream move already, Manucho hit the headlines prior to the tournament when he was unveiled as a Manchester United player. The response was, at best, muted as fans searched far and wide for details of the little-known striker.

However, by the end of Angola’s opening group game against Bafana Bafana, the 24-year-old had demonstrated what he was capable of and went from strength to strength throughout the tournament.

The most impressive aspect of Manucho's four goals was the variety of methods he used to find the net, while the pick of the quartet came against Egypt in the quarter-final when he rifled a left-footed drive home from all of thirty yards.

Anthony Annan (Ghana)Alongside Sulley Muntari and Micheal Essien, the defensive midfielder proved that he has the capability to play at a much higher level than he currently does. Plying his trade in the Norwegian League with IK Start, Annan has reportedly been linked to Chelsea - thanks, in no small part, to his Ghanaian midfield partner Essien.

Small, yet strong and quick around the pitch, Annan is still only 21-years-old and has been likened to Essien in his style of play. The next big thing to come out of Ghana, Annan has used the Nations Cup to good effect and it should not be long before he is seen at one of Europe's elite.

Elrio van Heerden (South Africa)Carlos Alberto Parreira made his feelings regarding this year’s Africa Cup of Nations apparent when he named his squad for Ghana.

The Brazilian chose not to include well-known names such as Benni McCarthy, Delron Buckley and Siyabonga Nomvete, moves which allowed opportunities for a number of less experienced players to shine.

The response was mixed, with Bafana struggling to compete in Group D. However, Van Heerden was one player that certainly did take his chance to impress.

Scoring in his first game against Angola, Van Heerden came off the bench again versus Tunisia and his introduction coincided with an improved second half display. Finally, Parreira rewarded the Club Brugge midfielder with a start against Senegal and Van Heerden responded by putting Bafana ahead with a clinical finish.

It was the culmination of an impressive tournament for the 24-year-old, whose lively displays, which featured an ability to use both feet and a strong presence in front of goal, are set to offer Van Heerden further chances in the build up to the 2010 World Cup.

Brian Brendell (Namibia)In a Brave Warriors side playing in just their second-ever Africa Cup of Nations, Brendell was an impressive spearhead. He found the net in Namibia’s games against Morocco and Guinea and was a constant threat with his elusive running and movement.

Indeed, had Brendell been a little more composed in front of goal, he could easily have added to his tally.

However, at just 21, he has plenty of time ahead of him to hone his potential. That development is almost certain to come at a bigger club than the one for which he currently plies his trade, FC Civics of the Namibia Premier League.

Amr Zaki (Egypt)With star striker Mido out of the tournament, the onus on goal scoring fell on the El Zamalek frontman Amr Zaki.

Boasting pace and strength, the Egyptian was influential in their semifinal win over the Ivory Coast, scoring two goals and setting scouts' pulses racing across Europe.

The striker has already had an unfortunate spell with Lokomotiv Moscow, where he didn't play a single game, so may not be interested in a move abroad.

However, alongside Mohamed Zidan and Hosny Abd Rabou, Zaki has been one of the main reasons why Egypt has done so well.

The Pharoahs did not miss Mido at all, which is a large compliment to Zaki, given the status the Middlesbrough striker commands in his home country.