U17 AFCON: Lawali, Diouf & best players of the group stage

U17 AFCON: Lawali, Diouf & best players of the group stage

The 2023 U-17 Africa Cup of Nations in Algeria has provided exciting and nail-biting encounters as the next generation of African football stars continue to showcase their talents on the continental stage to a global audience.

With the disqualification of South Sudan, a total of 15 matches were played across three groups with a total of 36 goals scored.

Following the conclusion of the group stage, eight teams have shown their superiority and progressed to the quarter-final round, with a number of players exhibiting their skills and unmatched qualities.

Afrosport takes a deep dive into the five best-performing players in the group stage, their qualities, and the numbers that prove their dominance.


1. Vicky Mkhawana – South Africa

Mkhawana is the joint-leading scorer in Algeria with three goals in his first three games, including a glorious opener against Zambia, which is arguably the best goal in the competition so far.

Mkhawana has been the star for South Africa, scoring in the two games he has started as he continues to be a handful for the opposition defenders with his pace, strength, agility, and prowess in front of goal.

The 17-year-old, who plays for Kaizer Chiefs youth side, will need to continue firing on all cylinders if the Amajimbos are to defeat Senegal in the quarterfinals, progress to the last four, and subsequently book a place in the 2023 FIFA U-17 World Cup.


2. Amara Diouf – Senegal

Senegal’s Amara Diouf has been one of the revelations of the tournament so far. The Young Lions of Teranga winger reminds many of senior compatriot Sadio Mane with his trickery and skill on the ball as he marauds on the left wing.

Diouf is also on three goals with a brace against hosts Algeria and another against debutants Somalia, helping Senegal to three wins in the group stage.

The 14-year-old is a member of the popular Generation Foot in Senegal and has been a beam of light on the Saliou Dia-led side.


3. Yahaya Lawali – Nigeria

Yahaya Lawali has proven to be reliable and efficient in Nduka Ugbade’s selection, and he has played every minute of Nigeria’s games in Algeria so far.

Naturally a fullback but sometimes deployed as a midfielder, his pace and ability to move the ball in tight spaces have caught attention.

The teenager won two consecutive Man-of-the-Match awards in the group stage.

Lawali’s creativity and leadership will be very key for the Golden Eaglets, and they will hope he maintains his form as they continue their push for a record third title.


4. Mamadou Doumbia – Mali

Another prolific goalscorer that has light up this year’s U17 AFCON is Mali talisman Mamadou Doumbia.

The Black Stars FC forward has two goals from two games, scoring in all the matches he featured in for the Eagles in Group C.

Doumbia, 17, is strong, quick, has a solid left foot, and has a sharp eye for goal. He has not been shy of showcasing these qualities for Mali in the first round of the competition.


5. Taha Benrhozil – Morocco

Benrhozil was an unbreakable wall for Morocco in their first two games in the group stage.

The 16-year-old was in goal for the Atlas Cubs’ first two games, where he kept clean sheets in both games and made five saves overall.

In his absence in their final group game, Morocco conceded their first two goals in the tournament and went ahead to lose the game.

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