AFCON 2023 will be one of the major tournaments in world football where hidden talents have the opportunity to emerge.

The tournament has served as a springboard for some of Africa’s most promising talents to showcase their skills and make the jump to the next level. 

5 players to keep an eye on at AFCON 2023

With AFCON 2023 just weeks away, we look at 5 of the continent’s rising stars.

Junior Tchamadeu – Winger (Cameroon)

The 19-year-old Stoke City winger has forced his way into the Cameroon national team on the back of some fine performances for his club.

He was named EFL young player of the month for January 2023 with former club Colchester. He then joined Stoke in the summer for an undisclosed fee. 

AFCON 2023 - Junior Tchamaeu

A left-footed winger, Tchamadeu possesses great speed and agility, enabling him to beat his man on the dribble.

He was called up in November by Rigobert Song and started both games against Mauritius and Libya.

Oumar Diakite – Striker (Ivory Coast)

The 20-year-old Reims striker is another one to watch out for at AFCON 2024. Diakite impressed with Austrian side Lifering, scoring 9 goals in 25 games to earn a move to French Ligue 1 side Reims. 

A big and imposing centre-forward,  the 6ft tall striker, who has scored 2 goals in his 15 appearances for Reims this season, will offer an excellent alternative to first-choice striker Sebastien Haller. 

The Ivorians will need strength in depth as they look to win the tournament on home soil. 

Fares Chaibi – Midfielder (Algeria)

Algeria are one of the favourites for AFCON and they have a gem in 21-year-old attacking midfielder Fares Chaibi.

The Eintracht Frankfurt playmaker has become an almost guaranteed starter in the #10 position for Algeria. He operates just behind target man Islam Slimani in a fluid 4-2-3-1. 

He can also play on either side of the attack, highlighting his versatility.

Chaibi has made 15 appearances for the Bundesliga side this season providing 2 assists. With the likes of Riyad Mahrez and Sofiane Feghouli around him, he will play his natural game without pressure.

Bruno Onyemaechi – Defender (Nigeria)

24-year-old Bruno Onyemaechi has emerged as Nigeria’s latest talent at left full-back. He is following a long list of stars like Celestine Babayaro, Ifeanyi Udeze and Taiye Taiwo. 

The Boavista man received his first call-up from Nigeria coach Jose Peseiro and was impressive on his debut.

Since his debut for the Super Eagles, he has played in every single game.

He will start ahead of ahead of Jamilu Collins in Cote d’Ivoire.

Nigeria must head to AFCON 2023 with title aspirations and a solid defence is key to achieving that. Onyemaechi provides the perfect balance between defence and attack. He will combine with Ademola Lookman effectively on the left wing.

Onyemaechi has been ever-present for Boavista this season, contributing 1 assist in 14 appearances across all competitions, and a fine showing at AFCON could open the door to a big move in the summer.

Yankuba Minteh – Winger (Gambia)

Gambian winger Yankuba Minteh has earned the nickname “Messi” which is high praise born out of his performances for club and country.

Minteh impressed in Denmark for Odense BK and was signed by Premier League giants, Newcastle for €8 million.

The 19-year-old was immediately loaned out to Feyenoord and has hit the ground running, scoring four goals and providing two assists in 18 games across all competitions so far.

Minteh only recently made his national team debut in an AFCON qualifier in October 2023, coming off the bench at halftime and scoring for Gambia in a 2-2 draw against the DR Congo.

That is Yankuba’s only national team appearance so far. However, he will add more at the upcoming AFCON in a difficult Group C along with Cameroon, Senegal and Guinea.