The Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinals starts on Friday when Gambia lock horns with Cameroon, the hosts. The tournament produced many shocking results from the group stages and in the Round of 16. The current champions Algeria was shockingly knocked out in the group stages, and Ivory Coast lost to Eygpt in the Round of 16.
Let’s take a look at some of the players who had a stand out performance for their team:
Vincent Aboubakar (Cameroon)
The player of the tournament so far has to be the Cameroon captain Vincent Aboubakar. He’s scored six goals in four games, and he’s on his way to putting in an incredible performance across the whole tournament. The 30-year old Al Nassr forward scored braces in their group stage games with Burkina Faso and Ethiopia and one each against Cape Verde and Comoros.
Preceding Aboubakar’s immense output at AFCON 2021, Eto’o was the record holder for the most goals scored by a Cameroonian at a single Africa Cup of Nations, having struck five times in Ghana back in 2008. With Aboubakar having now netted a resounding six times, he has surpassed Eto’o to become the country’s new record holder.
He has now scored 33 goals for the national team. He is the fifth-highest scorer in the national team’s history behind Samuel Eto’o (56 goals), Francois Omam-Biyik (45), Roger Milla (36) and Patrick Mboma (33).
Ibrahima Kone (Mali)
Kone has three goals at the tournament with Mali and has an impressive international record of 11 goals in nine caps. He would have scored more in the tournament if Equatorial Guinea did not knock out Mali in the Round of 16.
The 22-year old currently plays in the Norwegian top flight for Sarpsborg 08. His performance with the national team will surely attract some European clubs in the near future.
Karl Toko Ekambi (Cameroon)
Ekambi has also netted thrice so far, with he and Aboubakar having contributed eight of Cameroon’s nine goals at the tournament so far. He plays his club football with Lyon, having joined the French side from Villareal in 2020. His performance will be critical for Cameroon, alongside Vincent Aboubakar. This duo’s understanding of each other on the pitch will decide their progress.
- Achraf Hakimi (Morocco)
Achraf Hakimi is on top form for Morocco in the Africa Cup of Nations. Morocco coach Vahid Hailhodzic believes that Atlas Lions star Achraf Hakimi is one of the best two right-backs in the world, with only Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold able to rival him for the title of the best in their position.
Hakimi is emerging as one of the standout talents at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations, having netted a sensational free-kick from 35 yards to down Malawi in Morocco’s Round of 16 triumph.