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7 African Sports Stars to Watch Out for in 2019

Db Genova 25/11/2018 - campionato di calcio serie A / Genoa-Sampdoria / foto Daniele Buffa/Image Sport nella foto: Christian Kouame'

In 2018, many African athletes set really big goals for themselves and gave their all to achieve them. While some made good on those self-promises, a few fell short of their mark, and for some others, 2018 was a great opportunity to showcase themselves, and even get trophies for their efforts. In 2019, more of them will shine, and we take a look at the names to keep in mind

Mo-Salah with his signature celebratory move in the Liverpool Jersey

Mohamed Salah: Of course, the reigning African Footballer of the Year is top of our list as we expect him to win his second continental award in the second week of 2019.

2019 represents a busy and important year for Mohamed Salah. The Liverpool forward is leading the Reds’ title-challenge for a first-ever Premier League title, their UEFA Champions League quest and also Egypt’s Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) challenge.

Salah has proven to be the man for the big occasion for both club and country and we can’t expect anything less from him when the Pharaohs begin their AFCON campaign in June, after he has wrapped up what would be his first Premier League title.

Joy on the podium after winning her first senior individual medal for Nigeria at the African Championships.

Joy Udo-Gabriel: 19-year-old Nigerian sprinter, Joy Udo-Gabriel had a remarkable 2018 and can only get better in the coming year.

Udo-Gabriel, who is also an undergraduate at the University of Lagos represented Nigeria in the women’s 100m and 4 x 100m at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, with Nigeria winning a Bronze medal in the relays.

She further stamped her mark at her debut African Athletics Championships, winning a Bronze medal in the 100m and Gold in the 4 x 100m relays. 2019 promises to provide Udo-Gabriel with a bigger platform on the continental and global stage, as she is expected to be a part of Team Nigeria at the 2019 African Games and the IAAF World Athletics Championship.

Kevin Anderson celebrates reaching the 2018 Wimbledon final

Kevin Anderson: The top-ranked male South African tennis player had a remarkable 2018, getting to the final of Wimbledon, but losing to Novak Djokovic.

Kevin Anderson was seeded eighth at Wimbledon; saw off the challenge from Norbert Gombos, Andreas Seppi, Philipp Kohlschreiber and Gael Monfils to reach the quarterfinal. He upset Roger Federer in a four-hour epic battle, before defeating American John Isner in the second longest match in tennis history of major tournaments which lasted 6 hours and 36 minutes in the semi-final.

Anderson ended 2018 ranked in the top 10 and at 32, he certainly still has some great years ahead, starting with 2019, provided injuries don’t prove to be an obstacle. As the 50th ATP Tour begins, we expect to see more from him, as it will mean more representation for Africa in the tennis world.

Villarreal rave of the moment Samuel Chukwueze has earned plaudits many including his teammate Santi Cazorla

Samuel Chukwueze is the rave of the moment in the La Liga, three years after winning the 2015 FIFA U17 title and Bronze Shoe with Nigeria.

Currently on the books of Villarreal, the 19-year-old Nigerian winger has made a blistering start to life with the A-team after being promoted from the reserves at the start of the season, scoring breathtaking goals and posting impressive performances in the league and UEFA Europa League.

Chukwueze has been likened to Arjen Robben and does appear to have a big future ahead of him considering his rate of progression. Despite the league struggles of Villarreal, he is linked with a big money transfer from the Yellow Submarines at the end of the 2018/2019 season. Perhaps a great performance with the Super Eagles at his maiden Africa Cup of Nations tournament could be the defining moment of Chukwueze’s 2019.

Thembi Kgatlana of South Africa awarded TOTAL Woman of the match during the 2018 TOTAL African Womens Cup of Nations match between South Africa and Nigeria the 18 November 2018 at Cape Coast Stadium, Ghana / Pic Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Thembi Kgatlana stunned the entire continent with a superb performance at the 2018 African Women’s of Nations, where South Africa ended runners-up, and is tipped by many to be crowned CAF’s Female Footballer of the Year.

The 22-year-old forward scored five goals at the tournament and was selected player of the tournament, as the Bayana Bayana narrowly lost out on a first-ever title win, losing out on penalties to the Super Falcons in the final.

This year, Kgatlana will have a great opportunity to further enhance her growing profile at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, a maiden appearance for South Africa and at her club side, where she’s remains an important player

Louisville sophomore-to-be Jordan Nwora looking to make the most of his opportunity with the Nigerian national team.

Jordan Nwora is an upcoming Nigerian-American Basketball player who plays college basketball for the Louisville Cardinals and the D’Tigers of Nigeria.

The 19-year-old forward whose father, Alex is the coach of the Nigeria men’s Basketball team made his debut for D’Tigers during the 2019 FIBA World Cup qualifiers in Lagos, Nigeria.

While Nwora endured a slow start on his international debut against Uganda, he gradually grew in confidence and came to terms with the demands of playing in Africa. The youngster set a new national scoring record with 36 points against Mali in an eventual 93-53 win for Nigeria.

Despite his chances of appearing at the World Cup in China looking very slim due to the availability of more experienced players on D’Tigers’ roaster, Nwora’s giant strides in 2018 can only mean one thing – a better 2019 waiting.

Young Ivorian forward – Christian Kouame in Genoa colors during a 2018 Serie A match

Christian Kouame: This 21-year-old uncapped Ivorian forward who is currently on the books of Genoa, is a hardworking attacker, and has been a revelation this season since his summer arrival at Genoa. He has endeared himself to the club faithful with his impressive work-rate, commitment, and goals.

Under new club manager Cesare Prandelli, the lanky Kouame is expected to play an even bigger role in the Serie A, a sparkling performance which could possibly lead to him earning the first of numerous international caps with Ivory Coast in a year the Elephants are participating in the Africa Cup of Nations.

As the games unfold, everyone will be keeping tabs on these names and hope they can all put in their best performances, and open more doors for more talents just like them.

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