Without a doubt, the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) will be one of the most memorable in recent times, with the quality of key actors that will be gracing the grass in Cote d’Ivoire.
Two of the teams participating in the competition boast of the top two strikers on the continent, Nigeria’s Victor Osimhen and Egypt’s Mohamed Salah.
Guinea may not be in anyone’s fancy books, particularly with people already ruling out the Syli National in Group C where there are defending champions Senegal, five-time winners, Cameroon, and The Gambia, they have Serhou Guirassy, a prolific goal-banger who will be an attraction at the biggest football showpiece on the continent.
In 2023, these three top predators in front of the goal distinguished themselves and are the top three strikers with the most goals.
They will be campaigning for their respective countries in Cote d’Ivoire.
Complete Sports looks at how these prolific strikers performed and banged in the goals last year.
Mohamed Salah (30 goals)
They say “Success is not final and failure is not fatal”. The weight of these words must have resonated with the Egyptian god who came down to his people in the likeness of a human being.
Salah’s move to Chelsea in 2014 from Swiss club FC Basel, was deemed as a failure by those who measured his success.
After two years of struggle, his loan sojourn at Fiorentina and Roma moulded him into one of the most deadly forwards the Premier League has ever seen.
Liverpool had one of their most troubled time since Jurgen Klopp’s arrival last season, with the massive on-field reform that took place.
Over the past few seasons, Salah had formed a formidable and forceful front three with Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.
They delivered a Premier League title and a UEFA Champions League trophy for The Reds.
Despite the clear-out, from the attack to the midfield by Klopp, which affected Mane and Firmino, Salah’s wizardry did not wane.
He made history last year, in the 7-0 demolition of Manchester United at Anfield in March, as he became the club’s all-time top scorer in the Premier League.
He has broken several records at the club, including their all-time top scorer in the UEFA Champions League.
In 2023, at club level, Salah scored 24 goals in the English topflight; one goal in the UEFA Champions League; one in the Carabao Cup; one in the FA Cup and three times in the UEFA Europa League.
The captain of the Pharaohs of Egypt scored 30 goals in 2023 alone to be the highest-scoring forward heading to AFCON.
Victor Osimhen (29 goals)
What more is there to say about Victor Osimhen? The year 2023 was virtually made for the Napoli striker.
Since 2020 when he made the big-money move from Lille to the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium, Osimhen has seen a steady rise in his profile, as he grew into a potent force.
Each season was a brick on the other. Last year was like the crescendo for the 25-year-old who metamorphosed into one of the most lethal attackers in the world.
It all happened out of the blues, particularly considering the circumstances at his club Napoli, which sold most of their experienced players, with the likes of Kalidou Koulibaly, Dries Merten, and Lorenzo Insigne leaving the club.
It put the Nigeria international in the leadership group, belaboured to lead by example to a few young players who had come in to replace the outgoings.
Then, Osimhen tailed up. It was like a joke but the reality eventually hit everyone. It was reminiscent of his time at the U-17 World Cup in Chile in 2015, when he had no equal.
Osimhen became a nightmare to defenders and goalkeepers in the Italian Serie A and he took the same form to the UEFA Champions League.
He was a famed protagonist in the Partenopei’s fairytale ride to the Scudetto, which went to Naples for the first time in 33 years last season.
He scored 31 goals in all competitions alone in the 2022/23 season and made history on several fronts in the year.
Also Read: AFCON 2023: Leicester City Boss Gives Negative Update On Iheanacho’s Injury
He netted 24 goals in the league and five times in Europe last year alone to make it 29 goals, ending the year with just one goal shy of Salah’s haul.
On the back of his unstoppable effort to secure the league title for Napoli, he became the first African to win the Golden Boot, in the 125-year history of the league, after he notched 26 goals in the campaign.
He surpassed George Weah’s record of 46 goals; the highest in the league by any African. Also, he surpassed Samuel Eto’o’s highest number of goals in the league by an African in a single season.
Those milestones earned him an eighth-place finish in the 2023 Ballon d’Or, which was the highest by any African last year.
He became the first Eagle to be nominated for the award in 24 years after Nwankwo Kanu in 1999. The icing on the cake was being named CAF Men’s Best Player Of The Year, at a ceremony in Marrakech, Morocco, on December 11, which will remain historic, in the annals of Nigerian sports.
Serhou Guirassy (27 goals)
Older than Osimhen, and younger than Salah, Serhou Guirassy has the in-built of a classy and unmerciful finisher.
Sneaky and capable of sniffing goals like a dog, the Guinean can be likened to an apex carnivore.
Unlike the Nigerian and Egyptian goal-bangers, Guirassy was relatively unknown until last season, when he went on loan to Stuttgart.
Scoring 11 goals in 22 appearances, the German club were never going to let him return to Rennes, where he had earlier spent three seasons.
The 27-year’s exploits this season have attested to the fact that what he did in the German Bundesliga the last term was not a flash in the pan.
Many had thought entering a better league, by rating, and goal-scoring would not be as easy as the previous campaign. Rather, he is much more dreaded than before.
Last year, Guirassy who will be leading the attack for his country at the 2023 AFCON, scored 27 goals in total; 24 in the German topflight and three in the DFB-Pokal.
He could have beaten Osimhen and Salah on this list, but no thanks to the injury that kept him out in February and March 2023.
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