The Africa Cup of Nations is still regarded as the most prestigious tournament in African football, and with Egypt’s 2019 edition almost at our doorstep, many players will be seeking to write their names in the history books.

Kawowo Sports’ Ismael Kiyonga looks at the East African players that could light up the tournament.

Denis Onyango (Uganda)

Kawowo Sports | AISHA NAKATO Denis Onyango

A contender for the best goalkeeper on the continent, Onyango will make an appearance at the showpiece for the second successive tournament.

A brilliant game reader, leader and above all experienced custodian conceded only in one game in the qualifiers and if The Cranes are to go far, he must at his best.

Mbwana Ally Samatta (Tanzania)

TFF Samatta

Samatta is so good that is easy to forget that he comes from a small footballing nation, Tanzania.

The KRC Genk forward is not only a typical goal scorer but also a provider and comes into the tournament on the back of winning the boot in Belgium and also being named the Best Player of the African origin.

His movement, passing, dribbling and shooting technique make him a joy to watch but above all, he unselfish.  

Victor Wanyama (Kenya)

© Kawowo Sports | AISHA NAKATO Victory Wanyama

The Harambee Stars skipper needs no introduction. A big central midfielder with top game intelligence, Wanyama doesn’t only intercept opponents play with his brilliant positioning but also initiates attacks from deep.

He also has an eye for goal and gives the Harambee Stars confidence in any game.

Abdul Razak Fiston (Burundi)

CAF Abdul Razak Fiston

He is the modern-day striker who is capable of not only scoring goals, but also rescuing games from dead situations, thanks to his sensational burst of pace and dribbling skills, and will be expected to light Egypt up.

Fiston finished the qualification campaign as the top scorer and will be eager to prove his 7 goals was no fluke.

Lumala Abdu (Uganda)

FUFA Media Lumala Abdu

Lumala Abdul conquered the hearts of all the lovers of Ugandan football with his scintillating performance although not many had seen him play before.

The youngest on the Cranes squad, Lumala has the ability to unlock defences with dribbling skills, pace and that sublime defence-splitting pass but also has an eye for goal with a shooting technique that is envy of many experienced footballers.

The Afcon will prove a very big test for the Syrianska man but his confidence levels and top attitude won’t let him down.

Michael Olunga (Kenya)

© Kawowo Sports / AMINAH BABIRYE Michael Olunga

The former Girona forward who plies his trade in Japan dreams to emulate the footsteps of his huge idol Denis Oliech, arguably the best Kenyan footballer ever.

And, if there is any Kenyan striker who has a bit of Oliech in him in recent years, then it would have to be Olunga.

Whether he will go down in history just like his role model, remains to be seen.

Simon Msuva (Tanzania)

Kawowo Sports | AISHA NAKATO Saimon Msuva (left) is joined by teammates in the celebration for the opening goal against Uganda Cranes in the qualifiers

Msuva takes the goalscoring burden off Samatta, John Bocco, and Thomas Ulimwengu despite playing on the wing.

He is blessed with pace and has a beautiful shooting technique as evidenced in his goal against Onyango in Cranes goal in the game that earned the Taifa Stars qualification.

His late runs into the area gives his side another dimension in attack.

Francis Kahata (Kenya)

File Photo Francis Kahata in action against Nigeria

What he lacks in pace and stature, he has in the brain. The Gor Mahia forward has a sweet left foot, can pass the ball brilliantly and once in a while pops in with that odd goal.

Kahata is arguably the most creative midfielder in the Kenyan team and could be the spark in the Harambee Stars midfield.

Farouk Miya (Uganda)

Kawowo Sports | AISHA NAKATO Farouk Miya

Miya has been one of the most dominant figures on the Uganda Cranes team since he made his debut over five years ago.

In his early 20s, Miya has scored over 20 international goals including the only goal Uganda managed at the 2017 Afcon edition in Gabon.

Uganda are defensively solid and can cause a hard time for any traditional powerhouse to break down so they can always count Miya to score the all-important goal.

Ayub Timbe Masika (Kenya)

The Standard Ayub Timbe

Blessed with lightning pace and ability to dribble past any opponent, Masika is a joy to watch on his days.

He has always been spectacular in national team colours and probably the most threatening opponent to face in the Kenyan side as proved in the friendly game against DR Congo last week.

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