After what seems like a lifetime, the world of sport is regaining its momentum.
LaLiga is making a comeback and promising a whole new football experience for fans. Backed with virtualisation of stands and fan audio, the Spanish football league is also exhibiting the very best of African talent. Tuesday’s match-up between RCD Mallorca and RC Celta, in particular, is set to showcase the formidable skillset of African players and those of African descent.
Both Mallorca and Celta have a storied tradition of African players. Cameroonian Samuel Eto’o, for example, made his name at Mallorca and is regarded as one of the best strikers in the world and one of the greatest African players of his time, having won the “African Player of the Year” award four times. Another prolific African player in this fixture’s history is Benni McCarthy, Bafana Bafana legend and most recently the coach of Cape Town City, who was instrumental in Celta’s UEFA Intertoto Cup win in 2000.
While both may be retired today, their legacy continues to fuel the desire of other African players in their journey to reach the big leagues. Bafana Bafana star Bongani Zungu also came close to signing for Mallorca in the January transfer window in a move that had all South Africans holding their breath.
🔴 RCD Mallorca
Currently sitting 18th in the table, the team has everything to prove. Luckily for the islanders, Abdul Rahman Baba, Lumor Agbenyenu, Lago Junior and Iddrisu Baba will all be available as the team look to continue their fight against the drop.
25-year-old Ghanaian Baba Rahman made his international debut in 2014 and went on to be a part of the side that finished runners up at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations. After picking up a serious injury in September it looked as if the Tamale native would be out for the season, but the COVID-19 pandemic-enforced break has given him time to recover and the chance to impress before the expiration of his year-long loan from Chelsea.
Lumor Agbenyenu, also from Ghana, made his debut for the Black Stars in a 5–0 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualification win over Ethiopia in 2017. In LaLiga, he has made 20 appearances for Mallorca and will be looking to put in a good performance at left-back to stop Celta’s resurgent forward line.
Ivorian forward Lago Junior has been in LaLiga for over a decade, making his debut for CD Numancia against Atletico de Madrid back in 2009. He remains one of the side’s best attacking players and scored the winner in Mallorca’s sensational 1-0 win over Real Madrid back in October.
Accra-born Iddrisu Baba has made his name at Mallorca since joining the club’s youth ranks from LaLiga rivals Leganes. The midfielder has turned heads in his first season in Spain’s top flight and will need to be on form if his side hopes to get a positive result out of Tuesday’s relegation six-pointer.
🔵 RC Celta
Celta, who has been in LaLiga Santander since 2012, are 17th in the table but sit eight points clear of Mallorca. Another side with a strong African contingent, the side from Spain’s north-west will look to the likes of Joseph Aidoo and Pape Cheikh in their efforts to secure top-flight football for another season.
Ghanaian Joseph Aidoo, who was a nominee for Defender of the Year in the Ghanaian Premier League back in 2014, has thrived since making the jump to Europe in 2015. A solid presence for the side at the back, his impressive performances since the restart have been rewarded with three clean sheets in his last five matches.
Senegal native Pape Cheikh has returned to Celta, the club where he came through the youth ranks, on loan from Lyon this season, chipping in with 15 appearances. A strong end to the season could see Cheikh making his case for a permanent deal to return home.
🔥 A young star in the making to look out for
Beyond all the African talent on show, eyes will also be on 15-year-old Luka Romero. Last week he became the youngest player to ever play in LaLiga Santander (aged just 15 years and 219 days old), debuting against Real Madrid. In doing so he broke a record set by Francisco ‘Sanson’ Bao Rodriguez set back in 1939 playing for none other than Celta.
💫 On 24 June, Mallorca starlet @lukaromero_ made his @laliga debut against Real Madrid aged 15 years & 219 days, making him the youngest player in the competition’s history.— Futaa.com (@Futaacom) June 30, 2020
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Born in Mexico to Argentinian parents and raised in Spain, Romero has been compared by some to Lionel Messi. If his current progress is an indication of his potential, he’ll definitely be worth watching!
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