AFCON 2021 has had its fair share of surprises, with African powerhouses Algeria and Ghana crashed out of the continental tournament in the group stages.
In the Round of 16, Ivory Coast and Mali were eliminated while Morocco and Tunisia had their adventures cut short in the quarter-finals.
Egypt, Cameroon, Senegal, and Burkina Faso will compete for a position in the final, which will be hosted at the Olembe Stadium in Cameroon on Sunday night.
The AFCON semifinals will take place over the next few days, and we already have some standout performers.
The five best players in AFCON 2021 so far.
1 Vincent Aboubakar (Cameroon)
Vincent Aboubakar, a striker for Cameroon, scored five goals in three games, including braces in their first two matches against Burkina Faso and Ethiopia.
The 30-year-old is a technically skilled shooter who has an excellent understanding of the last third and can connect up with his teammates.
In Cameroon’s 2-1 Round of 16 win over Comoros, he was involved in both goals, scoring one and assisting on the other. Despite not scoring in Cameroon’s 2-0 quarter-final victory over Gambia, Aboubakar put in a strong showing.
2 Karl Toko Ekambi (Cameroon)
Cameroon’s strikers have been on fire, and their efficiency in front of goal and sheer spirit of adventure have lit up the competition.
In Cameroon’s second group stage match against Ethiopia, Karl Toko Ekambi should have scored a hat-trick. He had five shots on goal and scored two goals as a result of his efforts. After a lackluster performance in their penultimate group stage match, a 1-1 draw against Cape Verde, Ekambi excelled in the knockout stages.
In Cameroon’s 2-1 triumph over Comoros, he scored the game’s first goal. Cameroon defeated Gambia 2-0 in the quarter-finals, with the Olympique Lyon forward scoring another brace.
3 Achraf Hakimi (Morocco)
Until Morocco was ousted in the quarter-finals by Egypt, Achraf Hakimi was one of the most consistent players at AFCON 2021.
Forth games against Comoros and Gabon, the Paris Saint-Germain right back put in strong displays, scoring a key 84th-minute equalizer in the latter.
In the quarter-finals against Egypt, the 23-year-old performed admirably.
He won a penalty early in the game, which Soufiane Boufal converted to give Morocco a 1-0 lead.
Hakimi, on the other hand, was responsible for the game-winning goal by losing Trezeguet at the back post.
4 Sadio Mane (Senegal)
At AFCON 2021, Sadio Mane had a tremendous start. Senegal demolished Zimbabwe in their opening game, and he was perhaps the finest player on the field. However, it took a last-gasp penalty for them to get the better of their opponents, with Mane scoring from the spot in second-half stoppage time.
Following the game against Zimbabwe, the Liverpool winger had two fairly quiet performances. As Senegal drew goalless draws against Guinea and Malawi, he was underwhelming. Mane, on the other hand, resurfaced in the knockout stages.
In the Round of 16 versus Cape Verde, Mane was a force to be reckoned with. He put up a lot of effort and scored the game’s first goal as Senegal won 2-0.
5 Mohamed Salah (Egypt)
This season, Mohamed Salah has been in outstanding form for Liverpool. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to replicate his success with Egypt in AFCON, but he’s done well enough thus far.
He began with an uncharacteristically quiet performance in Egypt’s 1-0 defeat to Nigeria. Salah swiftly recovered and was the Pharaohs’ best player in their following game against Guinea-Bissau, scoring the game’s winning goal.
Salah’s match-winning powers were on full display as Egypt faced Morocco after two solid performances against Sudan and Ivory Coast.
As Egypt defeated African heavyweight Morocco, the 29-year-old scored a goal and assisted on Trezeguet’s extra-time winner.