Thapelo Maseko: Mamelodi Sundowns Star Earns FIFA Recognition After Standout AFCON 2023 Performance

Thapelo Maseko: Mamelodi Sundowns Star Earns FIFA Recognition After Standout AFCON 2023 Performance

Robert Abong'o
February 14, 2024 at 4:44 AM
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  • Thapelo Maseko has been included in FIFA’s top 5 African talents to watch in 2024
  • The 20-year-old was pivotal in South Africa’s AFCON 2023 journey in the Ivory Coast
  • The Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder got injured in the quarter-final against Cape Verde

The Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2023 recently concluded in Abidjan, with hosts Côte d’Ivoire emerging victorious in a thrilling tournament filled with unforgettable matches.

Among the standout performers was Thapelo Maseko, a young South African talent from Mamelodi Sundowns.

Maseko caught the attention of FIFA after his impressive displays that boosted Bafana Bafana's epic campaign.

Bafana Bafana's Thapelo Maseko tussles for the ball in a previous AFCON 2023 against Tunisia. Photo: Fadel Senna
Thapelo Maseko (C) was vital in South Africa's AFCON 2023 campaign. Photo: Fadel Senna
Source: Getty Images

Following his move to Masandawana from SuperSport United, he quickly made his mark, featuring in 19 matches across various competitions.

The dynamic winger's performances earned him recognition as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the African Football League and secured him a spot in Hugo Broos's 23-man AFCON squad.

He sustained a muscle injury in extra time during the quarter-final victory over Cape Verde after coming on as a substitute, even though South Africa won the contest on penalty shootouts, courtesy of Ronwen William’s heroics, as reported by EuroSport.

Despite his injury, Maseko's impact on the pitch was undeniable.

Maseko makes FIFA's top 5 players to watch

FIFA has now listed the 20-year-old as one of the five African talents to watch this year. The body also highlighted his contributions and noted the midfielder's goal-scoring prowess, including a crucial strike against Namibia in a group stage match on January 21.

Standing at just 5ft 3in height, Maseko's stature sometimes contradicts his ability to excel on the field. However, his achievements with the Brazilians and recognition as one of AFCON's top players suggest otherwise.

Looking ahead, his inclusion in FIFA's list suggests a bright future for the winger, with expectations high for his contributions to the national team's upcoming fixtures.

Joining Maseko on the list are promising talents such as Oumar Diakite of Côte d’Ivoire, known for his memorable last-minute winner in the AFCON quarter-final, and Bilal El Khannouss, the Moroccan midfielder who impressed during the Qatar 2022 World Cup campaign.

21-year-old Mali star Nene Dorgeles and Senegal’s 20-year-old sensation Lamine Camara also made the top five list, as reported by FIFA.

Standout Bafana Bafana players in AFCON

Sports Brief previously listed the top 5 performers for Bafana Bafana after they secured the third spot in the just-ended AFCON 2023 tournament.

Bafana beat the Democratic Republic of Congo on penalties in the third-place playoff to conclude an incredible campaign.

The 1996 champions had several standout performers, including captain and goalkeeper Ronwen Williams, who played a vital role in the knockout stages.

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Robert Abong'o
Editor - Africa Team
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