On Sunday, January 9, the 2021 continental Africa Cup of Nations will kick off with dozens of Muslim players listed to take part in the 24-team tournament.
The 33rd edition of the biennial competition is the second enlarged version to be contested between 24 teams.
Here are a number of Muslim players participating in major African squads.
Achraf Hakimi – Morocco
Hakimi is a professional footballer who plays as a right wing-back for Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain and the Morocco national team. Widely considered as one of the best right-backs in the worl, Hakimi can also play on the as a right winger.
Sadio Mane – Senegal
Sadio Mané, 27, is the captain of the Muslim West African country of Senegal. Mané finished fourth for the 2019 Ballon d’Or, and in the award for the Best FIFA Men’s Player he ranked fifth in 2019 and fourth in 2020.
Radio is also known off the picth as a philanthropist. In 2019, he donated £250,000 ($319,103, €284,813) to build a school in his home town of Banbali, Senegal. In 2021, he donated £500,000 ($638,207, €561,987) towards the construction of a hospital in Banbali.
Mohamed Salah – Egypt
Egyptian winger and forward Mohamed Salah is considered by experts to be one of the best players in the world. Salah has been in superb form with his club Liverpool. Though he finished in seventh place in the Ballon d’Or 2021, Salah won the African Ballon d’Or title in 2017 and 2021. His goal this year is to help Egypt secure an eighth continental title.
Riyad Mahrez – Algeria
Captain of defending champions Algeria, Riyad Mahrez will hope to be at the top of his game during this AFCON. He has produced some less than convincing performances in the last few months for his country, but Algeria fans expect him to replicate his Manchester City form on the big stage.
Wahbi Khazri – Tunisia
Wahbi Khazri, who plays for French Ligue 1 side Saint-Étienne, is one of the most prominent players in the Tunisia national team.
Wahbi Khazri is also the captain of the Tunisia national team, whose jersey he has worn 63 times for 22 goals since 2013 and with which he played the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Ahmed Musa – Nigeria
Ahmed Musa is one of the best players in the Nigerian national team.
Born in Nigeria in October 1992, the Muslim star was among the key players who played for Nigeria in the World Cup 2014. He currently plays as a forward and left winger for Turkish Süper Lig club Fatih Karagümrük.
Musa became the first Nigerian to score more than once in a FIFA World Cup match, after scoring twice against Argentina in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Musa is also the first Nigerian to score in two FIFA World Cup competitions, after scoring twice against Iceland in the group stage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Mahmoud Ahmed Ibrahim Hassan, commonly known as Trézéguet is an Egyptian professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for Premier League club Aston Villa and the Egypt national team. His nickname is taken from the former French footballer David Trezeguet, after his former youth coach noticed similarities between the pair in playing style and appearance.
Trézéguet made his full debut for the Egyptian senior side in 2014 at the age of 19 in a friendly against Kenya. He was named in Egypt’s squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, playing in all three group matches. To date, he has made over 40 appearances for his country’s national team, scoring 7 goals.
Hakim Ziyech – Morocco
Hakim Ziyech is a professional footballer who plays as an attacking midfielder or winger for Premier League club Chelsea and the Morocco national team
Ziyech is known for his finishing, dribbling, long passes, technique, and ability from free kicks. In 2019, he was selected as one of the 20 best players in the UEFA Champions League for the 2018–19 season. At the end of the same year, he was ranked 29th in The Guardian’s list of “The 100 best footballers in the world”.
Sékou Koïta – Mali
Sékou Koïta is a Malian professional footballer who plays as a forward for Austrian Football Bundesliga club Red Bull Salzburg and the Mali national team.
Kalidou Koulibaly – Senegal
Born June 20, 1991, Kalidou Koulibaly is a professional footballer who plays as center back for Serie A club Napoli and the Senegal national team.
He made his senior debut with Senegal in 2015 and was a member of the Senegal squad that took part at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations. He was named to the side that represented Senegal at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Koulibaly played all three matches, as Senegal were knocked out in the group stage of the tournament after becoming the first team in FIFA World Cup history to be eliminated due to fair play tiebreaker rules.
Naby Laye Keïta – Guinea
Naby Laye Keïta, 24, is a Guinean professional footballer who plays as a central midfielder for Premier League club Liverpool and captains the Guinea national team.
Keïta made his senior international debut for Guinea in 2012. He has earned over 40 caps and was part of their squad at the Africa Cup of Nations in 2015 and 2019.
Islam Slimani – Algeria
Islam Slimani is always involved for holders Algeria, playing as a forward for Ligue 1 club Lyon and the Algeria national team. Coach Djamel Belmadi knows that he can count on his striker, the top scorer in Algeria’s history with 38 goals.
Amadou Haidara – Mali
Amadou Haidara has become a key midfield presence for German club RB Leipzig. He fulfils a similar role for the Eagles of Mali, who are among the outsiders at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations.
Kamaldeen Sulemana – Ghana
The Ghana international is in the makings of being a star. Simply known as Kamaldeen, he plays as a winger for Ligue 1 club Stade Rennais and the Ghana national team. Currently at Rennes, Sulemana is being tracked by some of Europe’s biggest clubs. His enthusiasm, speed and touch will bring a breath of fresh air to a Ghana team looking for a resurgence in Cameroon.