Five players to look out for at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations

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Even though it disrupts the Premier League season and leaves some teams with selection headaches we’re still really excited for another African Cup of Nations!

Scouts from across Europe will surely be looking at the weird and wonderful spectacle very closely, with the month-long festival of football providing a chance for unheralded talent to show a wider audience just what they're all about.

As the tournament nears its kick-off in Equatorial Guinea it's time to take a look at five players to keep an eye on over the next few weeks.

Christian Atsu

The Chelsea winger has been on loan this season at Everton, but has struggled to break into Roberto Martinez’s plans at Goodison Park. There has even been talk of his time on Merseyside of that season-long switch being brought to a premature end.

Either way the Ghanaian will be desperate to prove his worth to both Martinez and Mourinho so expect to see him making waves in Group C!

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Cheikhou Kouyate

The Senegalese midfielder has hardly set Upton Park on fire since his summer move from Anderlecht – but did manage to get his first goal in the build up to the tournament as West Ham went down 2-1 to Arsenal.

With Alex Song likely to prove financially difficult to keep at the club permanently there is a spot opening up for someone to replace him when his loan deal expires – and Cheikhou Kouyate has the physical presence to be able to fill that gap. Should he realise that he might be cooking up an AFCON performance to remember.

Tokelo Rantie

Scoring four of Bafana Bafana’s nine goals in qualifying for the tournament the Bournemouth striker could be key in their bid to surprise everyone and pull South Africa out of a tough Group C.

Coach Ephraim Mashaba has moved his focus to youth since the last edition of the tournament so there's a regular spot ready-made for him.

He's struggled to command a starting place on the South Coast of England but has looked really bright when he’s come on as a sub – and he also bagged himself a brace in the Cherries 8-0 romp at St. Andrews in October.

Islam Slimani

The Algerian striker impressed at the World Cup bagging himself two goals as the Desert Foxes earned themselves a unpredicted place in the second round. Surprisingly he remained at Sporting Lisbon following the tournament.

But his name has been on the edge of European top clubs ever since and if he’s able to light up this year’s edition of the African Cup of Nations and take Algeria all the way to the title then he could return from the tournament to a different team.

Heldon Ramos

Cape Verde were the surprise package of the 2013 African Cup of Nations and they proved very difficult to break down defensively.

If they can continue their resilience in Equatorial Guinea, star striker Heldon Ramos, who has nine goals for his country in 29 appearances, will have the opportunity to help take them to the knockout stages once again.

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