The Africa Cup of hairstyles - mohawk popular with players

AFRICANS have a way of grabbing your attention.

From the outrageously unique hairstyles you see on the pitch during matches on the continent, to the rhythmically flawless way an African player celebrates triumph through dance - all of it embodies Africa's presence that cannot be found anywhere else on the globe.

It's that time again when 16 of Africa's best soccer nations come together to compete for the coveted Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).

It's difficult to talk about outrageous hairstyles in the Afcon and not mention Taibo West.

The Nigerian retired from soccer but, while he was still playing, he would usually have two small colourful ponytails somewhere on his bald head. That was over a decade ago.

But even in this year's tournament peculiar hairstyles will find a place on the field. Take for example Ivory Coast's forward Gervinho.

The Ivorian star, who also plays for AS Roma in Italy, has had his hairstyle for a while and for some reason, the braids that drop on the side of his face are something the eye never gets used to. The forward has a receding hairline that seems to be caused by the hairstyle ripping his hair from the follicles.

Another player with a peculiar taste for activities of the scalp is Gabon's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The third-runner-up for last year's CAF player of the year award, which was won by Yaya Touré, is the Gabonese star captain known for his bursts of speedy attacks.

The 25-year-old Borussia Dortmund player could be mistaken for Brazil's Neymar with his mohawk hairstyle.

With the mohawk leaving space for creativity on the side of the head, Aubameyang uses it to express certain thoughts. He famously had "BVB" (a reference to Dortmund) on his head before a Champions League match with Real Madrid.

Burkina Faso's Aristide Bance has one of the most recognisable hairstyles on the continent. The Helsinki forward has blond, bleached hair that stands out more on the field thanks to his towering 1.8m height.

Pollen Ndlanya is one of the few South Africans who did the unconventional with their hairstyles. Similar to Bance, he also has mop-like dreadlocks, but his aren't dyed.

The former Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates forward says of his hair: "Dreadlocks represent my being African.

"I cut my dreads on the side [so that] I could be recognisable on the field - it's sort of a brand.

"Players will cut their hair before a big game or a tournament like the Afcon because they know a lot of people will be watching.

"[It is] like during my derby days when, as a player, you want to look nice because you know that millions of people will be watching the game."

Ndlanya says he has had the same barber in Benoni for more than 20 years.

Other players who will grab people's attention with their hairstyles are Ghana's Edwin Gyimah, who most South Africans will know from his time at SuperSport and is now at Mpumalanga Black Aces.

Like most African players, he is also fond of the mohawk as his choice of hairstyle. But he has bigger and blown hair in the centre on his head.

Democratic Republic of Congo goalkeeper Robert Kidiaba Muteba, who is probably more famous for his eccentric celebrations than he is for his flamboyant hairdo, is also one to keep an eye out for at the tournament this year. The TP Mazembe goalkeeper has what seem like braids on the back of his head with a ponytail to top it all off.

WHO TO WATCH FROM THE SIDELINES

EVERY sporting event engrossed with testosterone will somehow attract females to it not only for the prowess on the field but also the eye-candy on show. Here are five hotties competing at this year's Afcon.

André Ayew

Ghana's André Ayew is one of the names that females can't keep off their lips. The midfielder is an important cog in the west African team and is always among the names of good-looking players ahead of any tournament because of his looks and physique.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Many people say Gabonese Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang looks like Brazil's Neymar. He is a good-looking young man who attracts the ladies with his skill, leadership and looks. Ladies consider the 25-year-old sexy because of his height, eyes and good skin. But SABC Sport host Pearl Shongwe says "It's his achievements that make him hot."

Emilio Nsue

Equatorial Guinea forward Emilio Nsue is a 25-year-old who plies his trade in England with Middlesbrough, and is another name that females often drop when talking about Afcon. He is not the best-known footballer, but women can clearly describe the Spanish born player due to his looks. His hair and complexion are his best features.

Asamoah Gyan

This is another Ghanaian player who gets tongues wagging at the sight of him getting on the pitch. His female fans find his dance moves when he celebrates his goals attractive.

Bongani Zungu

This Mamelodi Sundowns player might not be guaranteed a place on the starting line in coach Shakes Mashaba's first 11, but he does make the list of who the women will be watching. The 22-year-old's cute baby face and height of a model makes him a favourite with the ladies. - Bonginkosi Tiwane

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