Serie A Players That Could Become AFCON Champions This Year

Many Serie A talents are heading to this year’s African Cup of Nations tournament in the Ivory Coast. For roughly a month between the midpoint of January and February, the Italian top-flight will be deprived of some of its leading stars. 

From reigning Scudetto champions to squad players for European battling sides, there are a host of different player profiles that will miss several game weeks for their club side. Some of them have realistic chances of returning as winners of a major international tournament, which could provide an ideal confidence boost heading into the remainder of the Serie A campaign. 

So, who are the standout names heading to AFCON who have strong chances of helping their nations achieve Africa’s greatest prize?

Victor Osimhen

Victor Osimhen will be a huge miss from Serie A’s broadcasts of Napoli fixtures while he’s playing for Nigeria in the AFCON tournament.

The forward was the league’s most prolific in 2022/23 with 26 goals, and he hopes to have a similar goalscoring impact on African soil. Many AFCON betting sites in Nigeria believe Osimhen could finish as the top scorer in the tournament. For example, Betway offers the Napoli man as one of the frontrunners to win the Golden Boot Award – he’s currently priced at odds of +700.

The ultimate aim for Osimhen, though, will be to secure Nigeria’s fourth AFCON success at all costs. He has a solid supporting cast to aid his task including the midfield duo comprised of Alex Iwobi and Wilfred Ndidi, as well as several dangerous stars who line up alongside the starman in the attack. 

Nigeria are currently offered as a +1000 slight outsider behind defending champions such as Senegal, Algeria, and the hosts, Ivory Coast. However, if Osimhen can showcase his form of last season at the competition, then no opposition defenses will be able to prevent him from leading Nigeria to glory. 

Ismael Bennacer

While Osimhen is the standout center forward who will star in the competition, Milan’s Ismael Bennacer has a similar status in the midfield – he’s one of the leading stars heading to the Ivory Coast.

The Algerian has missed a majority of Milan’s season so far through an injury he suffered last May, although he’s returned to fitness in time to join his nation’s pursuit of a third AFCON title.

The Rossoneri midfielder is his country’s standout player besides the magician Riyad Mahrez. The former Manchester City winger will provide most of the creativity for the strikers such as Islam Slimani. Bennacer will be the player mainly responsible for breaking up the play and protecting the defense. Roma’s Houssem Aouar will also be a regular alongside Bennacer in the midfield. 

Algeria also have the likes of Ramy Bensebaini and Aissa Mandi providing experienced options in central defense, as well as another Serie A star in Lecce’s Ahmed Touba. The Desert Warriors’ well-rounded team is viewed as one of the favorites to write themselves into history as the latest champions of Africa’s biggest prize – they’re offered as short as +700. 

Bennacer arguably has a stronger chance of returning to Italy as an African champion in February. While he may not quite have the remarkable game-changing abilities of Osimhen, his national team’s quality is balanced more evenly around the pitch. 

Serie A has a strong chance of hosting AFCON winners of some variety this year, if Algeria were to achieve glory, there would be three medal winners based in Italy.