A NUMBER of Stoke City players will be looking to shine on the international stage when the Africa Cup of Nations gets underway later this month.
Several members of Nathan Jones’ first-team squad are expected to be named in their respective countries 23-man squads over the course of the next couple of weeks, including Peter Etebo, who we will be profiling first in our new series.
The Nigerian star rose to prominence during last summer’s World Cup Finals in Russia, with his tireless and impressive performances at the heart of the side earning him huge acclaim.
His move to the bet365 Stadium from Portuguese side Feirense on the eve of the showpiece finals in France was somewhat left-field, but his outstanding performances on the grandest stage of all soon had the City faithful purring.
A key component in a side which heartbreakingly missed out on qualification beyond the group sages, Etebo will undoubtedly be equally as influential in Egypt when the cream of Africa come together for the bi-annual tournament.
Somewhat surprisingly however, this will be their first appearance in the finals of the tournament since overcoming Burkina Faso in South Africa by a solitary goal back in January 2013.
Successive failures to qualify means this will be a first opportunity to take part in the competition for a large number of players, although there will be experience to call upon in the likes of Jon Obi Mikel and Leicester City’s Ahmed Musa.
Managed by former Bayern Munich defender and Nantes boss Gernot Rohr, Nigeria eased through qualification, winning their group with 13 points, six clear of Libya who finished outside of the top two places behind South Africa.
And it would take something of a catastrophe for the country not to advance even further in June too having been placed alongside minnows Madagascar and Burundi, as well as Guinea in Group B of the competition.
They get their campaign underway against Burundi on June 22 at the Alexandria Stadium in Alexandria, before taking on Guinea at the same venue four days later.
Etebo and co will then wrap up their group encounters against Madagascar, once again in Alexandria, on June 30, before the competition really begins to heat up with the always entertaining straight elimination stages.