We have not referred to anyone plying their trade in Europe or a major global league, meaning Cape Verde and Burkina Faso’s surprise packages and the likes of Ghana’s Christian Atsu and Nigeria’s Ahmed Musa are not listed.
We have also operated a strict U25 cut-off point, which excludes African-based revelations such as Mpeko Issama (DR Congo, 26) and Walid Hichri (Tunisia, 26).
So here are out top five African-based youngsters from this tournament, with Nigeria’s Godfrey Oboabona a clear candidate for a move to Europe.
Godfrey Oboabona (22, Nigeria, Sunshine Stars, centre-back)
Nigerian players are usually scouted young, so the big defender’s inclusion in the squad was unexpected given the Super Eagles’ strength in central defence. He has fared well though, certainly better than Joseph Yobo, who looked more like the rookie in the draw with Burkina Faso. Will surely move this summer if not tonight.
Djene Dakonam (21, Togo, FC Coton Sport, full-back)
The athletic defender has been a genuine revelation at these finals, having only made his debut this winter. Quick, agile and as comfortable getting forward as in defence, he has all the hallmarks of a top full-back, but will probably need to leave Cameroon – where he is based – to get there. Like Oboabona, would be available for a small fee.
Youssef Msakni (22, Tunisia, Lekhwiya, attacking midfielder)
The goal-scoring winger sealed a big-money January move to Qatar last summer, which may have been premature as he has shone as a creative force for Tunisia in these finals. His screamer gave them victory over Algeria, and he played well in the 1-1 draw with Togo. His Lekhwiya deal will include a buyout clause, which would not be cheap.
Stoppila Sunzu (23, Zambia, TO Mazembe, centre-back)
The lanky stopper has been one of Zambia’s better players. Good in the air and decent positionally, it’s easy to see why he has been linked with Reading among others. Congolese side TP Mazembe are claiming he has three years left on his contract, so any move depends on whether FIFA side with the player or club. Either available on a free, or for a couple of million.
Saladin Said (24, Ethiopia, Wadi Degla, forward)
Ethiopia’s only major professional player is an energetic and tricky forward. Unfortunate to miss a penalty against Zambia, but a constant threat and caused the defending champions all kinds of problems with his pace and flair. Also impressed in the unlucky defeat to Nigeria, a real livewire with the ball. Expected to move to Belgium with Lierse, who are owned by the same Egyptian that owns his current club. Someone should gazump them.