The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations saw a number of young players make a big impression in Egypt, which saw Algeria emerge champions for the second time in the competition’s history following a 1-0 win over Senegal in the final played at the Cairo International Stadium on July 19.
The players who have made the list were listed based on a number of criteria which include not being over 24 years old as at the duration of the competition, a criterion which saw a number of stars fail to make this list.
DailyAdvent has presented the AFCON Best XI and AFCON Worst XI, now take a look at the five most outstanding young players from the competition.
Ismael Bennacer – Algeria, 21 years old
While Riyad Mahrez captained Algeria to the title commendably, it was 21-year-old Bennacer who was the engine room of the Desert Foxes’ run to win the AFCON title.
The former Arsenal youth player may not have scored a single goal, he played a significant role in Algeria’s playing pattern, making full use of his excellent passing range to create chances and get himself three assists in seven appearances.
It is this high level of performance that led to him winning the AFCON 2019 player of the tournament as well as attract the attention of Serie A giants, AC Milan, who have sealed a deal to sign him from fellow Italian side, Empoli.
Wilfred Ndidi – Nigeria, 22 years old
The Leicester City midfielder led the Premier League for attempted tackles and he lived up to that reputation in Egypt where he also led all players and reinforce his status as Nigeria’s best midfield enforcer.
Ndidi provided the required balance in the Super Eagles’ midfield which allowed for the likes of Alex Iwobi and Samuel Chukwueze to have the freedom needed to create chances in the final third.
Chidozie Awaziem – Nigeria, 22 years old
The Nigerian defender plays naturally in either centre-back positions but at AFCON 2019, he was deployed out of position as a right-back yet the FC Porto star performed excellently in his six appearances at the competition.
Awaziem’s impressive displays saw him achieve the feat of not being dribbled by any opposition player throughout the competition – this after facing the likes of Cameroon, South Africa and Algeria over the course of AFCON 2019.
Ismaila Sarr – Senegal, 21 years old
The Stade Rennes winger carried his form at club level in the 2018/19 campaign to AFCON 2019, proving a handful for opposition defenders in the five matches he featured for the Teranga Lions on the West African side’s run to the final.
Sarr scored one goal and proved to be one of Senegal’s most dangerous players alongside Sadio Mane and Idrissa Gueye, outshining the likes of Ivory Coast’s Nicolas Pepe and making interest in him from Premier League clubs hardly a surprise.
Samuel Chukwueze – Nigeria, 20 years old
After making only one start and two appearances in the group stage, the Villarreal winger ensured he won the right to start on the right wing with an explosive second half display against Cameroon in the thrilling round of 16 clash which saw Nigeria emerge 3-2 winners.
Chukwueze showed his performance against the Indomitable Lions was no fluke while also justifying his place in the starting team against South Africa by scoring a goal to help the Super Eagles reach the semi-final stage.
It is only a matter of time the 20-year-old will find himself in one of the bigger teams of world football if his development maintains the current trajectory it is on.
What do you make of this list of outstanding young performers at AFCON 2019? Is there a player who deserves to be on this list who is missing? Share your views about this list with us in the comment section.