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Africa Cup of Nations 2013: Top Stars to Watch for in AFCON Semifinals

PORT ELIZABETH, SOUTH AFRICA - FEBRUARY 02:  Wakaso Mubarak of Gana celebrates scoring his 2nd goal during the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations Quarter-Final match between Ghana and Cape Verde at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on February 2, 2013 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Ian Walton/Getty Images
Dan TalintyreSenior Analyst IIFebruary 5, 2013

The 2013 African Cup of Nations is certainly heating up right now, with the tournament down to just four teams remaining in contention for the title.

Burkina Faso will play the heavy favorites Ghana whilst Nigeria will face Mali—both matchups that could go either way as we've seen throughout the competition.

Several key players will either make or break their country's chances at taking hope the African Cup of Nations title this year; read on to see the top stars to watch in the semifinals.

 

Asamoah Gyan, Ghana

Gyan has been the go-to man in attack for Ghana this tournament, and will no doubt continue to be in their semifinal clash with Burkina Faso.

The Al Ain striker was at his devastating best against Niger in the group stages and again effective against Cape Verde, with his assist-work in particular proving to be a handful here.

Expect Ghana to give the ball often in attack and allow him to create opportunities—something that could lead to great success for the Black Stars.

 

Seydou Keita, Mali

Keita might operate as a more defensive midfielder for Spanish giants Barcelona, but for Mali here in South Africa, he's been at his attacking and creative best.

He is experienced and leads this team well, and continues to find the back of the net when his country needs it most, with key goals against Niger and then against South Africa proving to be crucial for the Eagles' chances at winning the tournament.

He'll need to be at his best here when he squares off against Nigeria if Mali are to progress through to the 2013 African Cup of Nations final.

 

Jonathan Pitroipa, Burkina Faso

Few would have expected Burkina Faso to make it this far in the tournament, and whilst they face a tough matchup against a highly favored Ghana side, there can be no ruling out the minnows here in South Africa.

Goal-scoring machine Alain Traore is out for the remainder of the competition, which means that Burkina Faso will be looking to another player to step up. And Pitriopa could very well be that man, given his success in the group stages of the competition.

Pitroipa has blistering speed and an incredible ability to beat defenders in the middle of the field, and could provide some great assistance from midfield here.

If he can find space to operate and run at defenders, who knows. Burkina Faso's Cinderella story in South Africa may well live on for another week.

 

Which players are you looking forward to in the AFCON semifinals?

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