10 Footballers of African Descent to Watch at The Euros

The next African Cup of Nations does not come up till next year but Africans will regardless enjoy the European version this month. Even as many Africans have their ‘alegiances’ to some of these European countries due to their affinity to European club football. Don’t be surprised that even many Africans are more conversant with the European players than African players.

Another subplot is the emergence of many European footballers of African decent. Majority of the teams have at least one in their ranks. One of the pre-tournament favorites, France could even lineup with a starting eleven of Africa-born footballers.

Of the many, we have selected 10 of them you should keep an eye on.

Bukayo Ayoyinka Saka (England)

Bukayo Saka is one Nigerians will watch with envy cum delight. The young man has come a long way in a very short time. He was Arsenal’s player of the season in the just concluded season, at just 19. He has five caps and has scored once for the Three Lions.

He was born in London to Nigerian parents.

Saka has had a fantastic year

Adama Traore (Spain)

Muscular Adama Traore was close to representing Mali, even declaring for Mali in 2019 before a Spain call-up came.

The Wolves winger was born in Spain to Malian (not to be confused with Marlians) parents. He has made five appearances for Spain.

Jeremy Doku (Belgium)

With Eden Hazard struggling with fitness, the weight of Belgium’s attacking play might fall on the young shoulders of Jeremy Doku.

The Rennes forward is of Ghanaian descent. He has represented Belgium eight times and is seen as a bright prospect.

Yussuf Poulsen (Denmark)

Yussuf Yurary Poulsen is one of the danger men of 1992 winners – Denmark. The RB Leipzig forward has 8 goals in 54 appearances for the Danes.

Poulsen’s father is from Tanzania.

Karim Onisiwo (Austria)

Alongside more popular David Alaba, the Austrians have two Nigerians in their ranks. The Mainz forward was born in Vienna, Austria to a Nigerian father.

He has 29 caps for the Austrian national team.

Ben Cabango (Wales)

Swansea were close to returning to the Premier League last season. One man was at the heart of it, Ben Cabango.

The center-back was born in Cardiff to to an Angolan father and Welsh mother. He has three caps for the Wales national team.

Wissam Ben Yedder (France)

Ben Yedder is one of numerous Africans in France’s ‘united nations’ team. The Monaco forward is of Tunisian descent, he rejected the Tunisia FA’s advances on five different occasions before finally getting a call-up from France.

Expected to play majorly as a backup, he has scored twice in 14 appearances.

Wissam’s parents are from Tunisia

Danilo Pereira (Portugal)

The defensive midfielder was in the squad when Portugal won the last Euros and is back as they try to defend it.

The PSG player was born in Bissau, Guinea Bissau before he left for Portugal. He has made 47 appearances for the Portugal national team.

Serge Gnabry (Ivory Coast)

The Bayern Munich winger is one of the key men for the Germans.

Born in Stuttgart to an Ivorian father and German mother 25 years ago, Gnabry has an impressive record of 16 goals in 22 appearances for the German national team.

Gnabry has grown in leaps and bounds in the last few years

Ken Sema (Sweden)

Angolan-born Sema will be representing Sweden at the Euros.

The Watford midfielder goes to his first major tournament on the back of gaining promotion with Watford to the Premier League. He has made 12 appearances for the Swedes.

The above listed are just ten of a massive pool of Africa-born footballers at the Euros. It is expected to be an interesting tournament and the Africans are expected to play a major part.

Arsenal’s Win or Saka’s Goal, Which Was The Fluke?

Arsenal returned to winning ways in the Premier League for the first time since November. In that time they have failed to win against the likes of Burnley, Aston Villa, Southampton, Wolves, including a run of not winning home matches, which included four straight defeats at home. A run that has seen them stuck in the relegation zone, closer to the bottom than to the top. However, they broke that duck when least expected with an impressive win against Chelsea. Have the Gunners turned the tides or have the win against Chelsea was just a flash in the pan?

Kudos to Mikel Arteta for making some big calls or calls he was forced to make. Youngsters Emile Smith-Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli started and added more spark to the attack. Would he have started them if Pierre- Emerick Aubameyang was hundred percent fit or if Willian was available? It was glaring it was the call Arteta should have made earlier but he stuck with the misfiring Aubameyang and Willian alongside the likes of Nicholas Pepe and Alex Lacazette. That it took Arteta long to make or be forced to make the bold calls should be a cause for worry.

There have been calls that the sidelined Mesut Ozil should be called back due to an inability of the team to create chances. Their goals and chances created stats are embarrassing and one that should not be associated with Arsenal of London, maybe Arsenal Tula. They scored three against Chelsea and could have scored more but they still struggled to create clear cut chances. This is easy to argue against. For their ‘dominance’ against Chelsea, two of the goals came from set pieces and the third was a speculative shot many have argued was not intentional, even if it was intentional, it won’t be successful nine out of ten times. The young players played with more energy and pressed Chelsea impressively but is it sustainable?

As we have seen in some of their wins and in some of their struggles, they tend to always move the ball out wide due to an inability to break down teams through the center. The first penalty came as a result of coming in from the flanks. While coming in from the flanks may not be bad, most times their final balls are always poor. We saw that against Chelsea, until Chelsea gave them the breakthrough with the penalty. The second goal was also Saka trying to run in from the flank before he was hacked down for the freekick that led to the second. It was a game in which Edouard Mendy in goals for Chelsea made numerous saves. Apart from scoring the penalty, Lacazette barely touched the ball in the opposition’s box as he regularly dropped deep to link up play. It worked against Chelsea but in truth, we have seen it all before and many teams have set up to nullify it. It was not a tactical ingenuity that Arsenal fans can get overly excited about.

Three goals up and seemingly comfortable, Arsenal found a way to be Arsenal still, they allowed Chelsea back into the match. It was almost three- two and an edgy finale had Bernd Leno not pull up a penalty stop. Their next two matches are against fellow relegation strugglers Brighton and Hove Albion and West Brom. If they are able able to get maximum six points in those matches, Arsenal fans can bring out the sticks of the drums, not the drums yet. But very few Arsenal fans are confident going into the matches still. Brighton have become a sort of a boogey team, they did the double against Arsenal last season. Sam Allardyce is in charge at West Brom, he has a good record against Arsenal.

Arsenal should still see this as a crisis period and do good business in January instead of waiting till the summer, since they have decided to stick with Arteta. Like they did in 2011 after an 8-2 defeat against Manchester United, when they went into the transfer market to do emergency business – that brought Arteta to Arsenal, they should do same in January. The team needs lots of quality. The quality of the players can cover up for some of Arteta’s flaws while he continues to learn the ropes. The win against Chelsea might just be a flash in the pan, there is still lots of work to be done.

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Nigeria Loses Saka to England

The dream of Nigerians to have Saka Bukayo play for the Super Eagles is about to end. The Arsenal youngster has gotten a debut call-up to the Three Lions of England by Coach Gareth Southgate.

Saka is one of three debutants in a 30-man squad. In-form Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Harvey Barnes have also been called up. There are no places for Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood, after they were sent home from the national team during the last international window.

Southgate has named an extended 30 man squad for the games against Wales, Belgium and Denmark amid fatigue concerns for a number of players.

The full list:

Goalkeepers: Dean Henderson, Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope

Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ben Chilwell, Conor Coady, Eric Dier, Joe Gomez, Michael Keane, Harry Maguire, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Tyrone Mings, Bukayo Saka, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker.

Midfielders: Jordan Henderson, Mason Mount, Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice, James Ward-Prowse, Harry Winks.

Forwards: Tammy Abraham, Harvey Barnes, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Jack Grealish, Danny Ings, Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, Raheem Sterling.

Arsenal forward scores hattrick for England in nine minutes

Arsenal forward Edward Nketiah has proven that the high hopes Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has of him is not a fluke. The 21-year-old forward who captained the team scored three goals for England U-21 in the space of nine minutes in a 6-0 win against Kosovo.

In a Euro U-21 qualification match away at Kosovo, Nketiah scored in the 51st, 55th and 60th minute to put the Young Three Lions three up after a goalless first half. Another Arsenal youngster Reiss Nelson added a fourth in the 66th minute to add gloss to the result. Tottenham’s Ryan Sessegnon added a fifth in the 82nd minute, then Borussia Dortmund new boy Jude Bellingham scored a sixth in the 85th minute as the Young Lions ran riot. Nketiah and Nelson were not the only Arsenal players involved in the match as they were joined by Bukayo Saka.

It was Nketiah’s 6th, 7th and 8th goals in four qualification matches.

Nketiah is eligible for both England and Ghana national sides at international level. In January 2019, Nketiah reportedly turned down a call up from Ghana manager James Kwesi Appiah to the senior Ghana national side, with Nketiah favouring to play for England