African players abroad: Two stars shine on debut

football12 February 2024 09:19

The Africa Cup of Nations is now a thing of the past and we will see more stars from the continent return to their European clubs this week.

But there were still some superb performances from African players in Europe’s elite leagues this past weekend, including two debut goals.


Senegal’s last-16 exit from the Africa Cup of Nations meant an earlier than expected return for Sarr to Tottenham, and he came up with a goal in their 2-1 victory over ailing Brighton & Hove Albion. There was a hint of good fortune about it, his attempted cross ricocheted off the defender and onto the post, and with the ball bouncing back to him he squeezed it in from a tight angle. It doesn’t matter how they come, they all count! It is a third goal of the Premier League season to go with two assists for the 21-year-old midfielder, who has a huge future ahead of him.


Niang had a dream debut for his new Italian Serie A side Empoli with a goal and an assist in their 3-1 victory at Salernitana. Niang arrived in Italy from Turkish side Adana Demirspor in January and has made an immediate impact, coming off the bench to help his side to an important win. Niang took on the responsibility when his team were awarded a penalty and slotted the ball into the corner of the net on 88 minutes. That made it 2-1, and the points were safe deep into injury-time when Niang released Matteo Cancellieri with a perfect through-ball and the striker raced forward to score his side’s third.


Mali forward Toure is another new arrival in Serie A after he made a January switch from Spanish LaLiga side Almeria to Atalanta. He also marked his debut with a goal as his side swept away Genoa with a 4-1 victory, Toure finding the back of the net in the 103rd minute of the game. Wearing the number 10 jersey at his new club, he powered a header into the back of the net from Aleksey Miranchuk’s cross to put the icing on the cake for the visitors.


Ghana midfielder Duncan is a Serie A veteran and now in his 13th season in Italy’s topflight but proved this weekend he is still hugely valuable for Fiorentina with two assists in a thumping 5-1 home success against Frosinone. He fed Jonathan Ikone in the box for the latter to score Fiorentina’s second goal, before his header landed perfectly for Argentine Nicolas Gonzalez to thump home a superb volley and make it 4-0. That took Duncan’s assist tally to five this season, already matching his best ever campaigns in that regard, with Sassuolo in 2015/16 and 2019/20.


It was a fourth Serie A defeat in a row for Cagliari when they hosted Lazio, losing 3-1, but there was at least an assist for exciting Angolan forward Luvumbo. It took the 21-year-old’s goals contribution this season to six in 10 starts, having netted three times himself to go with a further three assists. It was from Luvumbo’s clever flick that Gianluca Gaetano drove on and unleashed a powerful drive from 25-yards into the top corner of the Lazio net to make it 2-1. Unfortunately for him it was the visitors who got the next goal.