Senegal should clinch Afcon Group C

Riyad Mahrez of Algeria.
Riyad Mahrez of Algeria.
Image: Getty Images / Carlos Rodrigues

This year's Afcon, starting on Friday until July 21 in Egypt, promises to be one of the closest to call in recent memory as all the big guns of African football qualified.

Sihle Ndebele unpacks Group C of the continental showpiece.


All eyes may be on tricky Manchester City left-winger Riyad Mahrez to do wonders, but Fenerbahce's Islam Slimani is expected to lead the attack alongside Yacine Brahimi of FC Porto.

French coach Djamel Belmadi called up only one locally based player in midfielder Hicham Boudaoui of Paradou. Algeria's goalkeeping department, featuring Saudi Arabia-based Rais M'Bolhi and Azzedine Doukha, appears their weakest link .

Key player: Riyad Mahrez


Goalkeepers: Rais M'Bolhi, Azzedine Doukha, Alexandre Oukidja

Defenders: Aissa Mandi, Mehdi Zeffane, Ramy Bensebaini, Rafik Halliche, Mehdi Tahrat, Djamel Benlamri, Youcef Atal, Mohamed Fares

Midfielders: Haris Belkebla, Ismail Bennacer , Mehdi Abeid, Sofiane Feghouli, Adlene Guedioura, Hicham Boudaoui

Forwards: Adam Ounas , Riyad Mahrez, Islam Slimani, Yacine Brahimi, Baghdad Bounedjah,Youcef Belaili.

Coach: Djamel Belmadi (France)


Victor Wanayama of Kenya.
Victor Wanayama of Kenya.

Not progressing to the knockout phase in their previous five Afcon finals makes Kenya one of the competition's underdogs.

However, the Harambee Stars, led by Tottenham Hotspur's Victor Wanyama, proved their big game temperament when they beat Ghana 1-0 in the qualifiers last September.

Zesco United defender Owino Odhiambo, who alongised Wanyama are the most capped players with 55 games each, will be crucial for the East Africans.

Key player: Victor Wanyama


Goalkeepers: Patrick Matasi, John Oyemba, Faruk Shikalo

Defenders: Philemon Otieno, Abud Omar, Bernard Ochieng, Musa Mohammed, Joash Onyango, Joseph Okumu, David Owino, Eric Ouma

Midfielders: Victor Wanyama, Dennis Odhiambo, Erick Johanna, Ayub Timbe, Francis Kahata, Ismael Gonzalez, Ovella Ochieng, Paul Were, Johanna Omollo

Forwards: Masud Juma, Michael Olunga, John Avir

Coach: Sebastien Migne (France)


Sadio Mane of Senegal.
Sadio Mane of Senegal.
Image: Getty Images / Xaume Olleros

Senegal boast one of the well-balanced squads, hence they are among favourites.

All the 23 players are foreign-based, and in top European leagues.

The Lions of Teranga's best Afcon display was in 2002 when they finished as runners-up. Now led by Liverpool's Sadio Mane, they are eager to deliver their first Afcon trophy.

Key player: Sadio Mane


Goalkeepers: Abdoulaye Diallo, Alfred Gomis, Edouard Mendy

Defenders: Kalidou Koulibaly, Moussa Wague, Pape Abdou Cisse, Salif Sane, Youssouf Sabaly, Lamine Gassama , Saliou Ciss, Cheikhou Kouyate

Midfielders: Alfred Ndiaye, Santy Ngom, Idrissa Gueye, Keprin Diatta , Pape Ndiaye, Sidy Sarr, Henri Saivet

Forwards: Ismaila Sarr, Keita Balde, Mbaye Niang, Moussa Konate, Mbaye Diagne, Sada Thioub, Sadio Mane

Coach: Aliou Cisse (Senegal)


Mbwana Samatta of Tanzania.
Mbwana Samatta of Tanzania.

Tanzania are the group's dark horses. The Taifa Stars have 13 locally based players.

For goals, they pin their hopes on Mbwana Samatta, who plays for Belgian giants Genk. Samatta has netted 17 goals in 49 games in national colours.

Key player: Mbwana Samatta


Goalkeepers: Aishi Manula, Metacha Mhata , Aron Kalambo

Defenders: Hassan Ramadan, Vincent Phillipo, Gadiel Michael, Ally Mtoni, Mohammed Hussein, Kelvin Yondani, Erasto Nyoni, Agrey Moris

Midfielders: Feisal Salum, Himid Mao, Mudathir Yahya, Frank Domayo, Farid Mussa, Yahya Zayd

Forwards: Rashid Mandawa, Mbwana Samatta, Thomas Ulimwengu, John Bocco, Abdillanie Mussa, Simon Msuva

Coach: Emmanuel Amuneke 

Group C fixtures

Senegal v Tanzania, 30 June Stadium, (6pm), June 23 Algeria v Kenya, 30 June Stadium (9pm), June 23Senegal v Algeria, 30 June Stadium (6pm), June 27Kenya v Tanzania, 30 June Stadium (9pm), June 27Kenya v Senegal, 30 June Stadium (8pm), July 1Tanzania v Algeria, Al Salam Stadium, July 1

Prediction: Algeria and Senegal to qualify for the knockout phase

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