General

Southampton legend Terry Paine has backed Mali international Moussa Djenepo to become a fans' favourite as his career progresses.

Former England international winger Paine was reportedly impressed with Saints' new recruit Djenepo's performance during Mali's Africa Cup of Nations opener. 

Johannesburg-based Paine watched the £14m buy from Standard Liege play an hour of Mali’s 4-1 win against Mauritania in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“I was impressed, the first impressions were very good,” said the 80-year-old, who has covered previous African Cup of Nations tournaments as a pundit for South African television show Supersport.

“Of course, you have to take the opposition into account. Mauritania are a long way off Premier League standard, this is their first venture into the Afcon.

“But he clearly knows his job. He tracks back and does his defensive duties as well as being a threat going forward. 

“He’s got two good feet which is so important as a wide player. 

“He can keep the full-back guessing whether he’s going to go left or right as he looks happy pushing off either.

“He comes off his line nicely to join in with a drop off the shoulder and isn’t afraid to get a shot away with his right foot when he cuts inside. 

EPA/RAUL CARO

“The Mauritania goalkeeper did well to get down quickly to stop one of his shots and Moussa also showed a fair bit of pace. 

“He’s got a long stride on him and likes to get into the box.

“Although he’s only young he knows what he’s doing. He looks as if he’s been well coached.

"I can see him becoming a fans’ favourite but it may take him time to adapt to the Premier League as we have to remember he’s only just 21.”

Djenepo is set to win his tenth cap for Mali in their fixture against Tunisia on Friday, June 28 ahead of their final Group E game. 

Paine further added: “He was taken off against Mauritania so he didn’t get a second booking after lunging in, but that was another good sign - I like to see wingers tracking back and doing their job.

“I’m looking forward to seeing more of him during the tournament and will be monitoring him closely in his next two games as well.

“We’ll get a better idea of what he can produce in those matches and hopefully Mali can progress to the knockout stage.”

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