When it comes to football punditry, hindsight is the easy way out. So while your very own and brave AIAC published a top 10 list of African footballers who could emerge this year way back in early January, pundits, like the BBC’s Piers Edwards, waited until after the AFCON to make the same prediction. But our early or Edwards’ after the fact predictions have nothing on a Lagos pastor who claimed God showed him the final match in its entirety beforehand.
But before we get to that pastor, let’s get back to the players first. No surprise to see the name of Emmanuel Mayuka sitting right at the top of the BBC list. Mayuka was sensational throughout the AFCON, scoring a classy winner against Ghana in the semi and pulling off the tournament’s outstanding assist with an outrageous piece of skill to set up Chris Katongo against Libya. The big question, as with all the Zambians, will be whether Mayuka can sustain the level he showed in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea outside of what was obviously an extraordinarily driven and spirited Zambian team.
Younes Belhanda (Tunisia) and Youssef Msakni (Morocco) both look the real deal too. Expect Arsenal to sign the pair of them and turn them into a couple of soft-shoed, goal-shy Rosickys.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was outstanding for Gabon right up until his heartbreaking penalty miss against Mali in the quarters. Not since Baggio in ’94 has the world felt so sorry for a man with such a silly haircut making such a hash of a spot-kick. Asamoah Gyan is proof of just how damaging a miss of that magnitude can be to a player, especially if folk insist in immortalising it in song.
Other players who might have been worth a mention are Zambian trio Nathan Sinkala (he of the absolutely stonking penalty in the shootout), Isaac Chansa and Stophira Sunzu, all of whom must have attracted interest from scouts at AFCON.
If those scouts want some really solid predictions, they could do worse than ask this fellow, a Lagosian pastor (he’s part of this crew) who predicted a win for Zambia in the run-up to the final. He had the distinct advantage of having God show him the match in its entirety beforehand (using some kind of divine DirectTv, one assumes), unlike we base heathens at AIAC, who nonetheless correctly predicted a Chipolopolo victory after extra time (ok so the score wasn’t exactly right, but I think we were a bit more specific than the pastor).