In the pulsating buildup to the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), the spotlight has turned to Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena, a sage with a discerning eye for football talent and a wealth of experience in coaching at the highest levels. A
midst the excitement surrounding the impending tournament in Abidjan, Mokwena has made waves by singling out the Super Eagles of Nigeria as one of the prime contenders for Afcon glory.
Sundowns coach has shared his insights on the other teams and players he believes will shine in the tournament.
Mokwena has identified six strong contenders to reach the AFCON quarterfinals and beyond: Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Morocco, Egypt, Ghana, and Senegal.
He emphasized the Super Eagles' perennial status as favorites, given their abundance of top-class players
“Nigeria (Super Eagles) will always be favourites because they have several top players and they are never pushovers when it comes to the tournament.
“Morocco is another team I believe will do well because they have a great coach, a great squad and we saw their exploits at the last World Cup,” said the coach.
Sundowns coach sees Egypt as a significant threat, given their history of success and the invaluable experience within their squad.
“Egypt can also be considered a big threat in the competition as they have the pedigree and know-how to win the title. I also tip Ghana and Senegal to be strong contenders and I think Ivory Coast will also make it to the last eight.”
Mokwena spotlights Super Eagles' Osimhen among players to watch at AFCON
In addition to identifying promising teams, Mokwena has singled out individual players who he believes will make a significant impact during the tournament.
The Super Eagles striker stands out for his exceptional goal-scoring abilities.
“Victor Osimhen is one player who is in great form and we have seen his abilities in front of goal. He leads the line confidently and scores lots of great goals and in tournaments like this you need goals.
“I also think Achraf Hakimi is an exceptional player who can change the course of games in several ways,” he added.
Mohammed Kudus, another player identified by the coach, is expected to be a game-changer during the tournament.
Bafana Bafana's tough group: Mokwena balances support for South Africa and Namibia
Turning his attention to the South African national team, Bafana Bafana, the South African acknowledges the challenges they face in a tough group with former champions Tunisia, Mali, and unpredictable Namibia.
“My heart, as a South African, will always be with Bafana Bafana because we have several players on the team.”
Despite his South African roots, the coach expressed support for both Bafana Bafana and Namibia, the latter featuring his player Peter Shalulile.
Mokwena's emotional connection to his players is evident as he hopes for the success of both teams in the tournament. With eleven players from his squad participating in Afcon, the Sundowns coach is eager to witness their performances on the grand stage.
This article was most recently revised and updated 1 month ago