The CHAN tournament is a competition which gives an opportunity to lesser known African footballers to showcase their ability and some have done just that.
There may be no African Cup of Nations this year, but its alternative the African Nations Championship is well underway in Cameroon.
The tournament only permits nations to select players from their domestic leagues which allows exposure for some lesser known talents around the continent.
As always there have been plenty of U23 players impressing scouts. First Time Finish have kept a close eye on the tournament and we have selected five players who have showed they are ready for a European move.
Harvy Mick Ossete
Current Club: Diables Noirs
Position: Central Defensive Midfielder
Earlier this year when speaking to Congo Sports, Mick Ossete described Tanguy Ndombele and Sergio Busquets as his two role models.
One can see the inspiration. The gangly long-legged Ossete plays with the same poise and nonchalance in possession.
He stands towering above his peers and is excellent in physical battles.
As Congo’s primary pivot, Ossete controlled the midfield area during the group stages of the tournament. In his second game against Niger the 21 year old was voted as the Man of the Match highlighting his influence on the team.
Ossete is the perfect tiki-taka player. He averaged 44 passes per game with an 82.9% accuracy and always made himself available for his teammates when in possession. No player from Congo’s midfield received more passes per 90 than Ossete with 29.86.
As a defensive midfielder Ossete puts in integral work at the back too.
He participated in 9.25 defensive duels per 90. 22 duels in total in 200 minutes and won 11 of them.
His reading of the game is impressive defensively. Ossete averaged 3.79 interceptions per 90.
While Ossete is not a dribbler per say and does not make advancing progressive runs often, he does offer offensive contributions with his penetrative passes.
He makes a total of 9.25 passes into the final third per 90 which is the highest for Congo at the tournament.
Ossete is also clever and capable of keeping possession even in tight situations. If needed he is good at drawing fouls with his quick feet. He suffered a total of 2.94 fouls per 90 which is the 2nd highest for his team.
A pure possession player, Osette resembles Busquets more than Ndombele and he could be an astute pick-up for any team in Europe’s lower leagues who play with tiki-taka or possession based football.
⭐ Total Man of the Match from the #CGONIG match = Congo’s Mick Itali Ossete 🇨🇬
— #TotalCHAN2020 (@CAF_Online) January 22, 2021
Current Club: Stade Malien Bamako
Undoubtedly one of the best players of CHAN so far. The diminutive Demba Diallo has caught the eye with his boisterous energy, persistent pressing and sheer speed.
On top of that the young Malian is an adept dribbler and has been the main threat going forward for his country.
Diallo’s decisive winner against Zimbabwe was the goal which helped the Eagles top their group above hosts Cameroon in Group A.
The pacey winger who has played both on the left and right flank at the tournament thrives at driving against opposition attackers.
In his last two games he attempted 4 dribbles per match with an impressive success rate of 75% percent. His 2.3 progressive runs per 90 is also an admirable statistic.
But he doesn’t just dribble to show off. His runs have purpose and they often end with him laying a pass off for his teammates.
In the 3 games he has played at the time of writing Diallo has averaged 2.67 passes into the opposition’s penalty area per 90. His success rate of 62.5% is a relatively impressive return too.
His pace and his energy is really impressive. Diallo does not shy away from putting in the work defensively either. He competes on average in 2.33 defensive duels per game with a success rate of 57% which is not bad for an attacker of his ilk.
Diallo’s explosive nature would make him an attractive player in European football.
Diallo put in an impressive performance for his club side Stade Malien in the CAF Champions League qualifiers earlier this year despite a 3-0 defeat against Wydad.
He is highly regarded in Mali, and a move to a better club will surely be a matter of time.
If he continues to impress at CHAN, he could be one of the best newcomers of the competition.
Current Club: USGN
Position: Central Midfielder
Niger are not a nation renowned for producing top prospects, but Abdoul Moumouni proved just why he is regarded as one of the nation’s brightest hopes.
Even though Moumouni and Niger were eliminated from CHAN, it wasn’t for a lack of trying on the 18 year old’s part.
Moumouni showed maturity beyond his years and dictated the play in the midfield.
He was instrumental in helping Niger secure drawas between Libya and Congo. And was voted Man of the Match in Niger’s first CHAN game against the former .
Moumouni is of the same mould as N’golo Kante. The young man is extremely adept in the middle of the park.
He averaged 79.23 actions per game with a success rate of 76.8%.
Going forward Moumouni competed in 7.92 offensive duels per 90 and won 72% of them.
Meanwhile in defence he won 77.8% of his 5.7 defensive duels per 90.
He was especially adept at reading the game, and totalled 11 interception in total which is the second most for an U21 midfield player in the tournament during the group stage games.
He also made 8.24 recoveries with 50% coming in the opposition’s half.
But where Moumouni excelled the most is with his vision and passing. He made an average 47.54 passes per 90 with an accuracy rate of 88%.
Impressively he made more forward passes than backward passes. Moumouni made 14.26 forward passes per 90 with a success rate of 80% meanwhile he made 8.24 backward passes and had a success rate of 92.3%.
His 9.19 passes into the final third with an accuracy of 75% further highlights Moumouni’s excellent ability to instigate attacks.
The Niger teenager would be an astute pick-up by lesser European clubs. But he has the potential to play at a high level too in the future.
Abdoul Moumouni = 🤩
— #TotalCHAN2020 – FR (@caf_online_FR) January 18, 2021
Current club: Horoya AC
The 22 year old Guinea midfielder has the potential to become the best player of CHAN 2020 if he continues his stupendous performances and helps Mali advance to the final.
He’s already produced two Man of the Match performances in his first two games. Ans the only factor which robbed him of a third was a suspension after picking up two yellow cards which prevented him from participating in Guinea’s last match of the group stages.
Guinea were not the same without Sylla in their final game of against Tanzania and were lucky to scrape a 2-2 draw to help them advance into the quarter finals of CHAN.
Sylla is a silky player. He is fun to watch. Adept at marauding forward, he is a well rounded midfielder who is capable of dropping back too and breaking up the opposition’s offensive transitions.
One of Sylla’s best ability is the ease with which he skips past players. He only averaged 3.26 dribbles per 90 however, his success rate of 71.4% is an extremely productive return.
His biggest moment at CHAN so far came through his excellent goal in the first game of the tournament against Namibia which exemplified the Sylla’s strengths.
🇬🇳 Guinea’s Morlaye Sylla; the Total Man of the Match from the #GUINAM clash!
— #TotalCHAN2020 (@CAF_Online) January 20, 2021
The clever run into space and the deft finish is what the Guinea midfielder is all about. He is excellent at breaking with pace and can use it to devastating effect.
Sylla’s passsing output is exemplary too.
He made a total of 97 passes in the two games he has featured so far with an accuracy of 87.6%. Out of those passes Sylla made 12.59 forward passes per 90 with an 81.59% accuracy.
For an all-round midfielder he reads the game well. He averaged 2.3 interceptions per 90 at the tournament despite Guinea dominating both games he featured in when it came to possession.
An area he could improve in is his defensive output. In his first game against Namibia Sylla didn’t win a single defensive duel out of the four he attempted. He improved that statistic with 2/4 against Zambia.
But in general for Horoya in the CAF Champions League qualifying this season and last season, Sylla has only won 46% of his defensive duels from the 7.93 he competed in per 90. It’s an area where Sylla should definitely concentrate on if he is to become the perfect all round midfielder.
Nonetheless, the Guinean is extremely easy on the eye when in possession and always looks to penetrate opposition defensive lines. For that alone he could be a valuable asset to any team.
In the past he has netted against Brazil at U17 level, and in key games against Mali and Ivory Coast at U20 and U23 level respectively, which begs the question just how is he still playing in Guinea?
With Horoya having qualified for the CAF Champions League group stages, the 22 year old has a huge chance to impress even more scouts after the tournament is over.
Triste pour le résultat, on aurait pu mieux s’en sortir. Heureux cependant de savoir qu’on a encore notre destin en main. Merci à tous pour vos messages ✌🏾#Syli 🐘🇬🇳 #MS10✨#TotalCHAN2020 pic.twitter.com/ADZsqjNqyp
— Morlaye Sylla 🇬🇳 (@MorlayeSylla24) January 24, 2021
Yakhouba Gnagna Barry
Current Club: Horoya AC
The top-goal scorer of CHAN with 3 goals in 3 games deserves a mention on this list too. Yakhouba Barry has led the Guinean forward line with distinction so far.
The towering gangly forward is blessed with a quick burst of pace, and the physicality to wrestle against his opponents and win headers in the box.
The Guinean has a real striker’s instinct. In his first goal against Namibia he was quick to pounce on an error by the goalkeeper to guide the ball into the back of the net.
In his second he used his pace to beat his marker and finished deftly for the ball to end up in the back of the net rather fortuitously.
Gnagna is a constant nuisance on the pitch. He is bursting with energy and on top of that he battles and challenges for aerial duels too.
Sometimes his first touch lacks precision, but he makes up for it with his pace.
He contests a lot of aerial duels 10.83 per 90 to be precise and for a striker his 40.6% win percentage is not a bad outcome.
His hold up play could improve at times, he’s only successful in 42.9% of his dribbles out of 2.37 per 90.
Where Yakhouba thrives is when he is playing in between the lines and running behind defenders onto through balls and long passes.
With his long legs he is hard to catch when in full stride and that’s how he creates most of his opportunities. In that regards, Yakhouba is a devastating player.
And if he keeps doing what a striker needs to do which is to score goals he will continue to attract scouts. Having vowed to finish as the top-goal scorer of CHAN, Guinea’s number nineteen is a determined individual both on and off the pitch.
His hard-work on the pitch is especially admirable and one that has won over the hearts of many in his home country.
(All stats via Wyscout)