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Cover Story

MISSING FROM ACTION

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MAROUANE CHAMAKH has been the most sought-after striker in the French League.

Five Africans would be glued to their TV sets at home. Moushumi Bora sheds a silent tear

MAROUANE CHAMAKH (MOROCCO)

After Karim Benzema’s move from Lyon to Real Madrid, Marouane Chamakh has been the most sought-after striker in the French League. Arsenal’s rumoured to be in pole position for the Moroccan’s signature. Chamakh has been instrumental in Bordeaux’s league campaign as well as Champions League exploits. He provided the spark in the quarterfinal first leg against Lyon in the all-French affair, scoring the vital away goal in the 3-1 defeat which could yet prove to be a factor. Powerful in the air yet skillful on the ground, he is an all-rounder who will be missed.

EMMANUEL ADEBAYOR (TOGO)

Adebayor was on the Togo team coach which was ambushed in a machine-gun attack at the African Nations Cup in Angola earlier this year. This experience may have changed his attitude towards life, but certainly has not affected his scoring abilities. He scored in his first start for Manchester City after returning from compassionate leave, dedicating the goal against Portsmouth to the ones whose lives were lost in the tragedy. The 2008 African Player of the Year is your typical 20-a-season striker, and his big-money move to City could yet prove fruitful.

MIDO (EGYPT)

Also known as Ahmed Hossam Hussein Abdelhamid, the enigmatic Egyptian has had several run-ins with the management. Mido was famously thrown out of the team during the 2006 African Cup of Nations as a consequence of an argument with coach Hassan Shehata in the semifinal game against Senegal, which started after Mido reacted badly to being substituted. He was subsequently suspended for six months. The much-travelled striker is now playing at troubled West Ham, on loan from Middlesbrough, and is always considered a dangerous customer.

SEYDOU KEITA (MALI)

It was only natural that his spectacular strike against Real Madrid when playing for Sevilla would attract the attention of Barcelona. The Catalan club came calling, and since then he has become one of the mainstays of the Barca midfield. While Xavi and Iniesta are always moving forward, Keita has been given defensive duties. But playing in a team which plays the beautiful game the way it is supposed to be played, it is not surprising that the Malian, who is admired for his control and vision, has scored 10 goals for the European and La Liga champions.

RADHI JAIDI (TUNISIA)

After two seasons at Bolton Wanderers and three at Birmingham City, the 34-year-old defender has moved on to England’s League One (2nd Div) club Southampton. Powerful and experienced, the first Tunisian player to join the English Premier League also brings additional height, at 6’3”, and strength to both the Saints and Tunisian lineups. The national team captain has played in the last two World Cups, scoring in the 2-2 draw against Saudi Arabia in 2006. He also played a key role in the triumphant 2004 Africa Cup of Nations campaign at home.

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