Mohamed Salah (Egypt)
Africa’s Footballer of the Year, and a European champion. Egypt have a new dimension with Javier Aguirre releasing the brakes after Hector Cuper’s conservative tactics, and Salah can thrive at Afcon.
Sadio Mane (Senegal)
Free of injury, suspension or mid-season international commitments, he struck 22 goals in the EPL to underpin Liverpool’s title challenge and share the golden boot. He’s now a proven big game player.
Hakim Ziyech (Morocco)
Reached another level for Ajax this season, with 16 goals in the league and 13 assists en route to a domestic double. Starred in European competition, and finding his feet in international football.
Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal)
He has emerged as one of Africa’s best defenders, if not the very best, since switching from France. The lynchpin of Senegal’s defence that conceded just 2 goals in Afcon qualifying.
Wilfried Zaha (Ivory Coast)
Technically gifted, with pace, speed of thought and unpredictability reminiscent of the nation's great wide players of the past. Key if the Elephants are to make a run for the title.
New generation of player to continue Ghana’s tradition of midfield dynamos. Starred at Afcon 2017 and has continued to grow with Atletico Madrid. Expect him to shine in Egypt.
Wilfred Ndidi (Nigeria)
Stars by doing basic things well, reminiscent of Sunday Oliseh. He is to Nigeria what Kevin Durant is to Golden State Warriors: They may win without him but are much stronger with him in the team.
Nicolas Pepe (Ivory Coast)
Heads to Egypt as the outstanding attacking talent in a squad rife with offensive flair. Fired Lille into the Champions League places this season, and will move onto better things this summer.
Odion Ighalo (Nigeria)
In the form of his life, having been the leading scorer in Afcon qualification with 7 goals. Even if he does not score, his excellent hold up play should create dangerous opportunities for teammates.
Trezeguet can play on either flank, with a preference for the left. Will be key in taking attention away from Mohamed Salah, and providing a threat when opponents are doubling up on the Liverpool man.
Ahmed Musa (Nigeria)
Quick with phenomenal balance, and stars either as a wide forward or central striker. One of two Nigeria players who have lifted the Afcon trophy, and experience vital as they attempt to win again.
Percy Tau (South Africa)
Skill, quickness and ability to create openings in tight spaces make him such a valuable asset. Even more, his ability to see and pick the right pass all over the field makes his team better.
Riyad Mahrez (Algeria)
Scored only 2 in qualifying, but influence on the team is not in doubt. Line-hugging skills and ability to cut inside and shoot on sight will give opponents sleepless nights throughout the tournament.
Naby Keita (Guinea)
Maiden season at Anfield was encouraging rather than spectacular after Liverpool paid £52m to sign him from RB Leipzig, but few players can tackle and dribble as effectively. Fitness concern, however.
Wahbi Khazri (Tunisia)
Perhaps Africa’s most underrated player in Europe’s major leagues, after shining at the 2018 World Cup. Increasingly used in a striking role, and scored 22 goals in the past two Ligue 1 seasons.