Top players to watch in 2015 AFCON: Yacine Brahimi (Algeria)

Yacine Brahimi
Algeria's Yacine Brahimi, centre, celebrates a goal against South Korea at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil (Photo: Reuters)
Ahram Online
Monday 12 Jan 2015
Talented schemer Yacine Brahimi is one of Algeria's primary sources of creativity as they aim to win the elusive African Cup of Nations title, which they had clinched only once in 1990.

Brahimi is gradually becoming one of Africa's hottest prospects, with his tricks and dribbling skills earning him widespread acclaim.

Algeria will be grateful to the 24-year-old for snubbing France, whom he represented at the youth level, to play for their senior team as they built an exciting team who exceeded expectations at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

"In the end, I followed my heart. I'm proud and happy to play for Algeria," Brahimi sa.d

"It took a while because I just wasn’t ready. I wasn’t an established player. While at Rennes I was held back by a string of injuries and only on signing for Granada did I begin to start regularly. I was in a better place and could join the Algerian squad without any worries."

Brahimi played a key role in helping Algeria reach the last 16 for the first time, scoring in the 4-2 group-stage victory over South Korea and setting up Islam Slimani for a decisive goal in the 1-1 draw with Russia that took them to the knockout phase.

Having joined Portuguese giants Porto from Spanish side Granada following the World Cup, he carried on from where he left off in Brazil, netting 9 goals in 22 appearances in all competitions - four in the domestic league and five in the elite European Champions League.

"The Africa Cup of Nations is coming. There are big opportunities for me," the 24-year-old said.

"And I hope I'll be able to achieve big things this year both with my national team and my club."

The exploits of Brahimi in Portugal were on full display when he netted his maiden league goal in a 2-0 win over Nacional in November, playing a one-two with a teammate on the edge of the area, turning his marker inside out before rifling an unstoppable shot into the far top corner.

Brahimi, who was named as the best African player in the Spanish La Liga last season while at Granada, was voted as the BBC's African Footballer of the Year in December and one month later won another prize after being named by African governing body CAF as the most promising talent.

All eyes will be on him when Algeria begin their Nations Cup campaign in Equatorial Guinea this month as they were drawn in the toughest group along with Ghana, Senegal and South Africa.

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