A Christmas gift to Scandinavian football clubs and other clubs that consider buying players from West Africa.
Tax lawyer in the law firm Visma Advokater, Øivind Henrik von Mehren, has a large engagement, interest and knowledge of West African football. For the first time ever, he now presents 50 of the best strikers the West African leagues has to offer, all in this one blog post.
Scouting for strikers
– An unofficial guide to the strikers of West African football
Experience has shown that the January transfer window is high-season for bringing African players to mid-level leagues in Europe. In Scandinavia, numerous clubs are currently looking for new strikers. Finding good strikers at a reasonable price is difficult, but the West African leagues are blooming with rough diamonds. My Christmas gift to Scandinavian football, and other mid-level European leagues, is a list of 50 interesting strikers, plying their trade in the top leagues of Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Senegal, Cameroon and Nigeria. The list is based on personal scouting, reports from other scouts and contacts, newspaper articles, statistics and “hearsay”.
Arguably, Samuel Tetteh is the hottest prospect in the local Ghanaian league. Tetteh is blessed with pace and skill rarely found in African league football. 2015 has been a fairytale for the youngster, playing his first season at top level of Ghanaian football. During 2015, Tetteh has featured for Ghana U-20, Ghana U-23, Ghana B and also received a call-up to the Black Stars. Tetteh can play as a main striker or an attacking winger. Few weeks ago, Tetteh was linked to Swedish top club Malmö FF.
Club: ASANTE KOTOKO FC
Teenage striker Dauda Mohammed was one of the revelations of the Ghana Premier League 2015, scoring 5 goals in 17 games (including 10 substitute appearances) for the Ghanaian giants Asante Kotoko FC. As main striker Ahmed Touré looks set for departure, Mohammed will most likely play an even bigger part during the up-coming season.
Club: SEKONDI HASAACAS FC
Samuel Afful is the star player of Sekondi Hasaacas FC and a former player of Ghana U-20 and Ghana U-17. Afful is a skillful attacker, who is just as effective as a winger. Afful has scored 11 goals during his two seasons at top level of Ghanaian football. At the time of writing, Afful is linked to several top clubs in Ghana, including Asante Kotoko FC and Medeama SC.
Club: BEREKUM CHELSEA FC
Energetic striker Kofi Owusu was the highest scorer in the Ghana Premier League 2015, with 19 goals in approximately 25 games. Owusu, a rather experienced performer, had only managed a total of 9 goals during the five previous seasons. One of the reasons behind his success was the fruitful collaboration with Stephen Asare Baffour. While Baffour used his muscles, Owusu used pace, mobility and a healthy work-rate to create chances. Owusu wanders a lot up front, and often attacks from the wings. His finishing skills have improved tremendously in 2015. At the time of writing, Owusu is heavily linked to bigger clubs, including TP Mazembe (DR Congo) and Al-Hilal (Sudan), both giants in African club football.
Club: ASHANTIGOLD SC
Emmanuel Osei, most likely born in 1992, was a key player for league champions AshantiGold SC during the second part of the2015 season. Osei missed the first 10 games through injury, but played 17 games (4 goals). The previous season, Osei was top scorer at AshantiGold SC with 9 goals. Osei, often referred to as “Carlos”, is a powerful and skillful striker.
Stephen Asare Baffour
Club: BEREKUM CHELSEA FC
Stephen Asare Baffour, a burly striker, was a fringe player at Aduana Stars FC before joining Berekum Chelsea FC before the 2015-season. Expectations were low, but Baffour turned out to be a sensation at his new club, forming a lethal partnership with league top scorer Kofi Owusu (19 goals). A few days ago, Baffour was strongly linked to AS Tanda, the Ivorian champions.
Paul De Vries Asare
Club: WA ALL STARS FC
Paul De Vries Asare, one of the most gifted players in the Ghanaian league, had a 2015 to forget. After playing a few matches early on in the season, Asare went under the knife to correct a muscular tear. The skillful youngster, who scored 9 goals during the 2013-2014 season, is expected to return when the new season kicks off. If Asare has shaken off his injury problems, he will soon be back on the radar of bigger clubs.
Enoch Atta Agyei
Club: MEDEAMA SC
Enoch Atta Agyei won the “Most Promising Player-award” after his sublime performances for second level side Windy Professionals FC during 2014-2015. Ambitious top level side Medeama SC won the challenge for his signature, and expectations are high for the youthful playmaker, apparently just 17 years old.
Club: INTER ALLIES FC
Inter Allies FC is famous for developing talented players, and Ropapa Mensah could be the next star in the making. Mensah, who played 10 games (2 goals) during his first season at top level, is a highly regarded striker, known for pace, trickery, ball control and instinctive finishing. This is a player to watch for the up-coming season.
Club: HEARTS OF OAK SC
Foovi Aguidi is a big, powerful, skillful and speedy striker from Togo, arguably the main striker at the current squad of Hearts of Oak SC. Aguidi scored 5 goals in 21 games during his first season in Ghana. Aguidi will be important during the up-coming season, and I think he could be a player to watch.
Baba Lamine Traoré
Club: ASEC MIMOSAS
Arguably, Baba Lamine Traoré is the hottest prospect in the Ivorian Ligue 1. Traoré is a product of the Académie MimoSifcom, the world-famous academy in Abidjan who developed star players such as Gervinho, Salomon Kalou and Yaya Touré. Traoré excelled during the Ivorian Ligue 1 2014-2015, spending the entire season on loan at AFAD Djékanou. After 7 league goals, which made him club top scorer, Traoré was nominated for the Meilleur Espoir award, but was beaten by Adriel D’Avila Ba Loua who is now playing for Lille OSC in France. According to the official homepage of ASEC Mimosas, Traoré is 173 cm and 62 kg.
Club: ASEC MIMOSAS
Youssouf Dao, a speedy striker, made his league debut for ASEC Mimosas in the 2012-2013 season when he had just turned 15. After 18 league games for the Ivorian giants, Dao spent the 2014-2015 season on loan at AFAD Djékanou, scoring 4 goals. Dao returned to ASEC Mimosas, and has featured in all games so far during the Ivorian Ligue 1 2015-2016. Dao is a disciplined player with a lot of confidence. Like so many African strikers, he needs to work on his finishing skills. According to the official homepage of ASEC Mimosas, Dao is 174 cm and 65 kg.
Franck Anoumou Amani
Club: SÉWÉ SPORT
The new sensation of Ivorian club football? Teenage striker Franck Anoumou Amani was highly impressive during the 2015 Montaigu Tournament, an international football competition for U-16 national teams. On 12.12.2015, Amani scored his first league goal for Séwé Sport, one of the top teams in the Ivory Coast. Four days later, Amani, who wears shirt number 9, scored another two goals against sleeping giants Africa Sports, including a beautiful free-kick. Franck Anoumou Amani is definitely a player to watch.
Franck Guiza Djédjé
Club: SÉWÉ SPORT
A year ago, Séwé Sport lost the 2014 CAF Confederation Cup Final against Egyptian super power Al-Ahly. After the final, Séwé Sport lost several key players and the current squad is a shadow of its former self. Strangely enough, the talented Franck Guiza Djédjé has remained with the team. Today, Guiza Djédjé is the key player of Séwé Sport. Guiza Djédjé, last season’s top scorer with 8 goals, is a versatile and tricky attacker, who can also play as a winger or second striker.
Club: AFRICA SPORTS
Nicaise Daho, whose full name is “Guillaume Nicaise Horey Daho”, was top scorer for sleeping giants Africa Sports in 2014-2015 with 5 goals. Daho, formerly of ES Bingerville, is a highly regarded player because of his speed and energetic style of play – but no proven goalscorer yet.
Club: ASEC MIMOSAS
Yannick Zakri is a pacy and skillful striker, also found on the wings from time to time. Zakri played 21 games (3 goals) for ASEC Mimosas during the 2014-2015 season, and showed glimpses of his qualities. Before joining ASEC Mimosas, Zakri scored 20 goals during five seasons for AFAD Djékanou. Zakri is not a typical goal poacher, but an entertaining player who causes a lot of havoc.
Club: AFAD DJÉKANOU
Choumana Coulibaly is a talented attacker, effective in any attacking role, famous for his dribbling skills, creativity and ball control. Coulibaly lost big parts of the 2014-2015 season through injury, but is now back in top form.
Club: Jeunesse Club d’Abidjan
Denis Tiaho scored 9 goals during his first season at top level of Ivorian football. The bullish striker joined Jeunesse Club d’Abidjan from second-level side AS Athlétic d’Adjamé. Tiaho was rewarded for his good season with a place in the squad of the Ivory Coast B national football team.
Club: MOOSSOU FC
Cedric Kouadio is one of the most hyped strikers in Ivorian football. Kouadio plays for Moossou FC, a newly promoted side in the Ivorian Ligue 1. However, according to unconfirmed sources, Kouadio has just joined SC Gagnoa, one of the most ambitious sides in the Ivory Coast. Kouadio is known as an explosive player with excellent pace and dribbling skills. Last month, Kouadio won the “Meilleur joueur-award” in Ligue 2, meaning he was the best player at second level of Ivorian football. Kouadio also featured for Ivory Coast U-23 during 2015.
Club: AS TANDA
Issa Sanogo is an interesting striker at AS Tanda, last season’s champions in the Ivory Coast. Sanogo, formerly of AFAD Djékanou, scored 6 goals for CO Korhogo during 2014-2015. The pacy striker has been regarded as a talent for 5-7 years, but has struggled to reach his potential. On 20.12.2015, Sanogo scored two goals for his new club, and this could very well become his breakthrough season.
Ibrahima Sory Keita
Club: AS DOUANES
It’s been a fairytale season for Ibrahima Sory Keita, a strongman striker. Before the 2014-2015 season, the unheralded Keita joined newly promoted AS Douanes from Stade de Mbour. Sensationally, AS Douanes won the league, and Keita became the highest scorer of the season, with 9 goals in 25 games. In November 2015, Keita won the Meilleur joueur local”-award (best player in the local league). Keita, who is 185 cm tall, is also a key member of Senegal B and Senegal U-23. The only downside: there is some confusion regarding his age. According to Conféderation Africaine de Football, Keita is born 16.06.1994. According to Senegalese sports page Ndamli, Keita is born 16.06.1989.
Club: ASC DIARAF
Ibrahima Diop was top scorer in the Senegalese Ligue 1 2013-2014 with 16 goals for ASC Diaraf, which earned him a contract with Olympique Safi in Morocco. Diop, a “fox-in-the-box” kind of striker, featured in 28 games for his new club, but disappointed in front of goal, scoring just 2 goals. Diop is now back at ASC Diaraf, looking to get his career back on track. I know for a fact that Norwegian clubs scouted at Diop in 2014, and I think it would be a mistake to write off this natural striker – a rare thing to find in Senegalese football.
Dame Guèye is a skillful and powerful striker at the Institut Diambars, arguably the most successful academy in Senegalese football. Guèye has scored 3 goals in 35 games and is definitely not a finished product. If nurtured correctly, I think he could go far. Guèye has experience from Senegal U-17 and Senegal U-20.
Club: US OUAKAM
Siny Diagne is a handful for any defence because of his height and strength. The lanky striker, who featured for Senegal U-23 earlier this year, has scored 14 goals in approximately 50 games for US Ouakam. Diagne is featured in the following YouTube video:
Club: ASC NIARY TALLY
Assan Ceesay is a Gambian striker at ASC Niary Tally, one of the top clubs in Senegal. It may be strange to include a striker who scored just once during the 2014-2015 season (23 games and 1 goal for Casa Sports), but Ceesay, fondly referred to as “Torres”, truly is an exciting prospect. The lanky frontman is blessed with sublime skills and tremendous pace, making him one of the most entertaining players in the league. At the same time, his poor finishing can be frustrating. At new club ASC Niary Tally, Ceesay scored 2 goals during his first 3 games.
Club: CASA SPORTS
Casa Sports have a tradition for producing good strikers, and Aliou Badji could be the next in the line. The powerful youngster, sometimes referred to as “Drogba”, scored 5 goals in 15 games during his first season at top level of Senegalese football. Furthermore, Badji gained experience featuring for Senegal U-23 and Senegal U-20.
Daouda Ndiaye Gueye
Club: AS DOUANES
Daouda Ndiaye Gueye, a bullish and hard-working striker, is having a wonderful start at new club AS Douanes. Gueye, who scored 3 goals in 17 games for US Ouakam during 2014-2015, is the current top scorer in the Senegalese league with 4 goals in 5 games.
Club: AS DOUANES
Mouhamed Sene is a typical centre-forward, and the kind of striker often brought to European football. At 192 centimetres, Sene is an imposing figure and a difficult opponent for any defender. Sene has worked hard on his finishing skills for the last couple of years, and his 7 goals for Olympique Ngor during 2014-2015, earned him a big move to league champions AS Douanes. Sene also featured for Senegal B during 2015.
Club: MBOUR PETITE COTE
Benoit Toupane is the star player of Mbour Petite Cote, an ambitious side formerly known as Touré Kunda de Mbour. Toupane is a burly, powerful striker with a rather impressive goal-rate in the Senegalese league. Last season, Toupane scored 6 goals in 24 games. So far this season, Toupane has 3 goals in 3 games.
Pape Abdou Kader Fall
Club: ASC LA LINGUÈRE
Pape Abdou Kader Fall is a towering striker (almost 2 meters tall), who uses his size effectively, holding the ball up-front and creating space for teammates. Perhaps not a “20-goals per season”-kind of striker, but a talented youngster with interesting qualities. Fall scored 8 goals during the Ligue 1 2014-2015.
Club: COTON SPORT FC
Joseph Yanki won the “Meilleur joueur de Ligue” in Cameroon, and there is no doubt in my mind: Yanki is the best player in the Cameroonian league. Yanki is blessed with creativity, excellent dribbling skills, power, pace – and one of the best left-feet in African club football. Yanki operates both as a striker and a left-winger, and scored approximately 10 league goals for Coton Sport FC in 2015. Apparently, Yanki is currently on a trial at Turkish side Gaziantepspor.
Club: UNION DOUALA
In 2010-2011, Samuel Nlend was a big star at the Cameroon U-17 national football team. Nlend made his top level debut in 2013, featuring for Douala AC and scoring 3 goals. After the season, Nlend travelled to Portugal and third-level side Sporting de Espinho – not the best of career moves. Earlier this year, Nlend returned to Cameroon, joining Cameroonian giants Union Douala mid-season. His return proved to be sensational, as the skillful and powerful striker scored 11 goals in just 16 games. Nlend was nominated for the “Team of the Season”. Nlend now features for Cameroon B and Cameroon U-23. This is a player that could strengthen many teams in Scandinavian football.
Club: UNISPORT FC
Arguably, William Tchuameni of Unisport FC, is the hottest striker in the Cameroonian league. Tchuameni has scored more than 30 goals during the last two seasons, making him a remarkable effective striker by Cameroonian strikers. Tchuameni is a big (192 cm), athletic striker known for clinical finishes.
Felix Chenkam Nganle
Club: UNION DOUALA
Felix Chenkam Nganle pretty much came from nowhere, but ended 2015 as one of the revelations of the Cameroonian season, scoring 8 goals. Chenkam Nganle was nominated for the “Team of the Season” and is also part of Cameroon U-23. According to unconfirmed sources, Chenkam Nganle is born in 1997.
Louis Willy Ndongo
Club: COTON SPORT FC
Louis Willy Ndongo is not a typical “main striker”, but more of a “second striker”. Ndongo is a versatile player, just as comfortable as a winger or attacking midfielder. Ndongo is a mobile forward with good technical ability, who can both score goals and create opportunities for team-mates. Ndongo is a key player for the best team in Cameroon, and should be very attractive for any mid-level European club.
Rudolphe Ngombe Mbengue
Club: BOTAFOGO DOUALA
Rudolphe Ngombe Mbengue was one of the revelations of the Cameroonian season, scoring 11 goals for surprise package Botafogo Douala. The season before, Ngombe Mbengue had scored 17 goals for second-level side Dynamo de Douala. Ngombe Mbengue is blessed with creativity, vision and dribbling skills rarely found in the Cameroonian league. Ngombe Mbengue is rather petit, but powerful and burly.
Grégoire Gaël Nkama
Club: COTON SPORT FC
Grégoire Gäel Nkama has scored 21 goals during the last two seasons (16 for Panthere Sportive and 5 for Coton Sport FC). In January 2015, Nkama looked set for a transfer to Algerian football, but the deal fell through. Nkama is a natural striker with great power and accuracy.
I have a good feeling about Ghislain Mogou of YOSA (Yong Sports Academy). Mogou, who is currently part of Cameroon B, is an athletic striker who has performed consistently at a high level for the last two seasons. His goalscoring record is not great (approximately 12 goals in 2 seasons), but his hard-work has allowed others to shine, primarily veteran striker Jude Kongnyuy.
Arouna Dang A Bissene
Club: BAMBOUTOS FC DE MBOUDA
Arouna Dang a Bissene is a big, strong striker who uses his muscles effectively. Dang a Bissene joined Bamboutos FC de Mbouda during the mid-season transfer window, and scored 8 goals in 14 games. He was awarded with a place in the squad of Cameroon B. Dang a Bissene had a stint at Slovenian side NK Krka in 2013-2014, playing just 4 games. Apparently, Dang a Bissene is on his way to Astres Douala for the up-coming season, but the transfer is not confirmed.
Club: COSMOS DE BAFIA
Olivier Madola, a big, powerful centre-forward, had an injury-plagued 2015-season. In 2013, Madola scored 15 goals when Cosmos de Bafia won promotion to the MTN Elite One, and the following season, Madola scored 10 goals at top level, catching the eye of clubs in North Africa. When Madola returns to top form, he will be attractive on the transfer market. Apparently, Madola is on his way to Unisport FC, but the transfer has not been confirmed.
Club: WARRI WOLVES FC
Gbolahan Salami, often referred to as the Nigerian Balotelli, has finally gotten rid of his bad boy reputation. The bullish striker has an enormous physical presence, and has now learned how to use his strengths effectively. Salami emerged as top scorer of the Nigerian league with 17 goals in 22 games – the same number of goals he scored in 2014. Salami had a disastrous stint at Mamelodi Sundowns FC (South Africa) in 2011-2012, but is definitely ready for a new adventure abroad. Salami is highly regarded in Nigeria, and features regularly for the Super Eagles and Nigeria B.
Club: ABIA WARRIORS FC
There is no doubt in my mind – Chisom Chikatara could become a star in Scandinavian football. Chikatara is a natural striker; a clinical finisher who is strong, powerful and pacy. Chikatara scored 13 goals in 27 games during the Nigeria Professional Football League 2015. Chikatara is also part of the Nigeria B national football team.
The following article describes how Chikatara went from selling nuts at the local marked as a teenager, to become one of the hottest prospects in Nigerian football: https://www.colinudoh.com/2014/03/chisom-story-of-kola-nut-hawker.html. At the time of writing, Chikatara is strongly linked to several top clubs in Nigeria.
Club: SUNSHINE STARS FC
Tunde Adeniji was one of the revelations of the Nigeria Professional Football League 2015, scoring 16 goals in 33 games for Sunshine Stars FC. Adeniji is a powerful, hard-working striker who has been remarkable consistent during the last two seasons. Adeniji is an all-round striker without any major strengths or weaknesses. Unfortunately, there is some confusion regarding his age – both 17.09.1995 and 17.09.1997 are found on various webpages.
Club: WARRI WOLVES FC
Oghenekaro Etebo is one of the hottest prospects in the Nigerian league. Etebo, a typical playmaker, perhaps most effective playing behind a centre-forward, was a sensation when he scored 16 goals during 2013, his first season at top level. Since then, Etebo kind of disappeared for a while, partly because of foreign trials, partly because of injuries. However, Etebo is now back at top form, and was the star player and top scorer (5 goals) when Nigeria U-23 recently won the 2015 U-23 Africa Cup of Nations.
Club: WARRI WOLVES FC
Kufre Ebong played 16 games and scored 3 goals during his first season at Warri Wolves FC. The statistics are not that impressive, but Ebong showed enough to become an important member of Nigeria U-23 during the season. Ebong has a lot of qualities important for a great striker, including power, strength and pace. If Ebong works on his finishing skills, he could become a star player.
Club: SHARKS FC
It is difficult to understand that Christian Pyagbara is still playing league football in Nigeria. The tricky, athletic and skillful striker, who can also play as a winger, has a lot of experience from the various national teams of Nigeria, including the Super Eagles. Pyagbara has scored 27 goals in 66 games for Sharks FC. 2015 was not Pyagbara’s best of seasons. Despite 8 goals in 18 games, he could not save his team from relegation. Pyagbara was recently linked to Sunshine Stars FC.
Club: LOBI STARS FC
Fans of SK Brann will perhaps remember the name Tony Okpotu. The lightning-fast and burly striker was a trialist at the Norwegian side in January 2013. Okpotu was not given a contract, but was largely impressive during trial matches. Okpotu spent the 2013-2014 season at Libyan side Al-Ittihad, not the best of career moves. Okpotu returned to Lobi Stars FC in early 2015, and had his best season ever, scoring 11 goals in 21 games. As Okpotu’s finishing skills has improved dramatically since his trials in Norway, he could be worth checking out.
Club: AKWA UNITED FC
Aniekpeno Udoh is not an obvious choice on this list, but I have a good feeling about this rookie striker, most likely still a teenager. Udoh joined Akwa United FC during mid-season 2014, having been discovered playing amateur football. After a quiet start to his career, where he got a reputation for being ineffective, Udoh stepped up his game, ending the 2015 season at the club’s top scorer with 9 goals in 37 games. Udoh is a lanky striker, known for being strong as a bull and hard-working. If given the proper guidance, Udoh could become a quality player – but he is still rough around the edges.
Club: ENYIMBA FC
Actually, 2015 was a year to forget for Mfon Udoh, the energetic striker of league champions Enyimba FC. Udoh, who scored 23 goals for Enyimba FC in 2014, struggled with sickness during the first part of the season. When he returned, he was a shadow of his former self. Eventually, Udoh managed 5 goals in 20 games. Personally, I think now is the perfect time to bring Udoh to European football, as his poor season should be reflected in his transfer fee. Udoh is a natural striker, and he will eventually find his scoring boots.
Chinonso Christian Obiozor
Club: ENYIMBA FC
Despite playing only 8 games for league champions Enyimba FC, Chinonso Christian Obiozor was the club’s highest scorer with 6 goals. Obiozor is a big, powerful centre-forward – the prototype Nigerian striker. Unfortunately, Obiozor has struggled with injuries, explaining why his career has yet to take off. I believe Obiozor will be terrific as soon as he returns to top form.
Tax lawyer Øivind Henrik von Mehren is Visma Advokater’s football expert. With a fervent commitment to football and business law, he aims to assist Norwegian football clubs, Norwegian player agents and their clients with reporting obligations, taxes and duties.
Follow Øivind Henrik von Mehren on Visma Advokater’s Facebook page for more football blogs or check out Visma Advokater’s website for information on how we can assist you. For more information about West African football, you should visit the blog post: How to avoid pitfalls when buying west african football players.