A cluster of African stars make a triumphant return to French Ligue One action this weekend after propelling their countries to Africa Cup of Nations qualification.
Fresh from helping Ivory Coast’s Elephants to a 3-0 victory over Rwanda in a crucial qualifier, Toulouse’s Ivorian skipper, Max Gradel, is raring to as Alain Casanova’s side face leaders Paris Saint Germain on Sunday night.
In the continued absence through injury of the world’s most expensive player, Neymar Jr, PSG boss Thomas Tuchel is expected to field Cameroonian striker Eric Chuopo Moting, who grabbed a brace as Cameroon brushed aside Comoros 3-0 to book a berth in the June AFCON finals in Egypt.
Friday night features Stade Rennais’ Senegalese striker Mbaye Niang, a two goal hero in the Lions of Terranga’s 3-0 victory over Madagascar, in action against Olympique Lyon’s Bertrand Traore, who played a prominent role as former losing finalists Burkina Faso booked a place in Egypt by toppling Mauritania 1-0.
In Saturday’s only match up, Olympique Marseille’s Clinton Njie, another scorer for Clarence Seedorf’s Cameroon, faces off with Lions team mate Stephane Bahoken, who is the spearhead of Angers’ attack. Njie usually comes on as a substitute for either of the first choice triumvirate of Mario Balotelli, Lucas Ocampos and Valerie Germain.
Other African stars expected to make a splash include Lille’s Ivory Coast winger, Nicholas Pepe, who will be in action at Nantes, seven days after opening the scoring against Rwanda’s Amavubi Stars.
Saint Etienne’s Tunisian skipper Wahbi Khazri who featured for the Carthage Eagles in a 4-0 whitewash of Estwatini, and South Africa’s Thebo Mothiba who formed part of the front two as Bafana Bafana overcame Libya’s Mediterranean Knights 2-1.
Mothiba will spearhead Strasbourg’s attack against Reims on Wednesday, four days after leading the Alsace region club’s front line in the Coupe de la Ligue final against Guingamp. The other mid-week encounter sees Montpellier host Guingamp.
Ligue One fixtures:
-Rennes v Olympique Lyon @10:45pm
-Olympique Marseille v Angers @7pm
-Amiens v Bordeaux @4pm
-Dijon v Nice @4pm
-Monaco v Caen @4pm
-Nantes vs Lille @6pm
-Toulouse v Paris Saint Germain @10pm
-Saint Etienne v Nimes @9:30pm
-Montpellier v Guingamp @8pm
-Strasbourg v Reims @8pm