With the qualifiers for the 2021 AFCON having come to an end for the November international break, FARPost looks at some of the best performers across the continent from match day 3 and 4.
A few players helped their respective countries to be the first to qualify for Cameroon while others pushed their nations a step closer to the continental showpiece with some crucial points earned.
HAKIM ZIYECH (MOROCCO, 3 GOALS)
Top of the list is Morocco’s Hakim Ziyech after scoring three goals in the two back-to back games against Central African Republic. The Chelsea attacker scored two goals in the first game at home as Morocco won 4-1 and scored again in the 2-0 away victory on Tuesday night. The 27-year-old also registered two assists to his name in both games which took his overall goal contribution to five goals in the two games – no player had a better contribution.
The Moroccan has now scored 17 goals in 37 international games for the North African side who sit top of Group E with 10 points, 5 points clear of second-placed Mauritania.
PERCY TAU (SOUTH AFRICA, 3 GOALS)
South Africa’s ‘Lion of Judah’ sits second in the rankings after his stellar performances against minnows Sao Tome ePrincipe. Tau helped South Africa overcome the stubborn Islanders in the first game in Durban scoring the first goal from the spot as South Africa won 2-0 on Friday night. In the second game South Africa beat Sao Tome 4-2 at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium with Tau scoring two beautiful goals to help Bafana Bafana move up to second in Group C, level on 9 points with Ghana. Tau now sits on 12 goals in 25 appearances for South Africa as he looks to climb up the ladder to ultimately break Benni McCarthy’s scoring record of 31 goals.
VINCENT ABUBAKAR (CAMEROON, 3 GOALS)
The Beşiktaş striker ran riot for the ‘Indomitable Lions’ as he carried the team in both games against Mozambique. In the first game at home the 28-year-old scored a brace as the former champions picked up three important points winning the game 4-1 in Cameroon. In the reverse fixture the FC Porto loanee took his international tally to 23 goals in 69 matches scoring the first goal as Toni Conceicao’s charges won 2-0 away from home.
SADIO MANE (SENEGAL, 2 GOALS)
The Liverpool winger was the local hero yet again for the ‘Lions of Teranga’ as he helped them to be the first country to qualify for the AFCON in Cameroon. Mane scored two crucial goals in both games for the West Africans. In the first leg the 28-year-old scored from the penalty spot as Senegal won 2-0 at home before scoring the only goal in the return fixture in Guinea-Bissau to secure Aliou Cisse’s men a place in Cameroon.
RIYAD MAHREZ (ALGERIA, 2 GOALS)
Two beautiful goals have earned Manchester City and Algeria winger Riyad Mahrez the last spot in this top 5. The attacker first scored a beautiful solo goal in the first leg going past three Zimbabwean defenders before beautifully chipping the opposition goalkeeper to give Algeria a convincing 3-1 home victory. In the second game on Monday, Mahrez scored an even more amazing goal dancing around the opposition defence with ‘classic’ Mahrez dribbles turning from right to left and left to right before slotting home with his weaker right foot. The encounter ended 2-2 as the ‘Warriors’ of Zimbabwe fought back to equalise in the second half.
SPECIAL MENTION: Kas Eupen forward Knowledge Musona scored the goal of the qualifiers with a beautiful free-kick against Algeria in the 2-2 draw in Harare.
By Prince Sobayeni