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African World Cup stars you don't yet know: Is Iliman Ndiaye the Senegal striker to replace Sadio Mane?

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Borden concerned following beer sales U-turn (1:09)

Sam Borden wonders what else could change in Qatar following a last-minute reversal of beer sales in stadiums. (1:09)

Most of football's high-profile stars and big-name players will be on show at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, but the tournament also represents an opportunity to see talent whom fans may not otherwise have the chance to enjoy.

Africa's five World Cup squads, drawn from disparate leagues and nations, are full of players with fascinating backstories and unlikely routes to the top.

Here are our favourites.

Iliman Ndiaye (Senegal)

Senegal need a new hero after Sadio Mane's injury nightmare that ruled the Bayern Munich superstar out of the World Cup.

Ndiaye could be that player given he's enjoyed a magnificent start to the season with Sheffield United, scoring nine in the English League Championship as the Blades push for a return to the top flight.

He made his Senegal debut only in June, but Mane's injury, allied with his club form, sees him in contention to take a more prominent role in the African champions' starting XI even if no one's truly expecting him to step straight into the Bayern striker's sizeable shoes.

During his youth in Senegal, having moved back to West Africa with his family after being born in France, Ndiaye became a viral sensational due to his single-handed evisceration of opponents in youth tournaments.

Still a child, he was featured in the Senegalese press -- who dubbed him a "future Messi" -- and was invited to Marseille for a trial.

He was on loan at Hyde United in the seventh tier of English football as recently as 2020, having earlier come to the attention of Sheffield United when he scored a wondergoal in a trial match at St George's Park to trial VAR.

His chant, a dazzling new addition to the Blades' repertoire, is sung to the tune of Manfred Mann's 'Do Wah Diddy', and includes the lyrics: "Running past defenders, scoring one and two. Iliman is on my mind and he wears the 29."

We're hoping for a rendition or two in Qatar...

Antoine Semenyo (Ghana)

Semenyo scored his maiden goal for the Black Stars when they defeated Switzerland in a pre-tournament friendly on Thursday, continuing his rise from the foothills of the English football pyramid.

The 22-year-old, who plays for Bristol City in the Championship, featured for rural South Gloucestershire and Stroud College until his late teens, after being invited to the school's football program by ex-Leeds United boss David Hockaday.

The Robins were surely delighted by Hockaday's foresight, as their partnership with SGS ultimately led to Semenyo signing terms with the second-tier club two years ago.

"In my experience of heading the football program here at SGS for many years, Antoine has to be one of the very best we have produced and I predict a very bright future for him," the college's director of sport, Simon Panes, said.

Ahead of the World Cup in Russia four years ago, London-born Semenyo was finishing a loan spell at Bath City -- of the sixth tier of the English game -- but is now preparing to represent Ghana, the land of his ancestors, in Qatar.

He even didn't believe the invitation when it came - believing the unsaved number was a hoax.

"I woke up and got a call from a Ghana number, he told the Bristol Post.

"I wasn't sure and I was sceptical about picking it up. The assistant coach said I had been selected. It felt so surreal, I couldn't believe what he was saying.

"I thought it was a fake number at one stage. When he told me I was so excited and rolled around in my bed and I was so happy."

Abderrazak Hamdallah (Morocco)

Hamdallah has made quite the journey to Qatar from a local club in the Moroccan town of Safi, where the youngest of seven children enrolled to get away from playing football in the streets.

He made his way to the more prominent Olympic Club de Safi then began to make his mark in the Moroccan Botola league in the 2010-11 season.

He made national headlines by marking his debut in the Moroccan Cup with a double to eliminate Raja Casablanca, and soon got his big break by signing for Norwegian side Aalesund in 2013.

The striker excelled in Norway, after becoming the first player to swap the Moroccan top flight for the Nordic country, but after one season -- and a spot in the Team of the Year -- he was off again.

Rather than use Scandinavia as a stepping stone to one of Europe's major leagues, Hamdallah worked under Sven-Goran Eriksson in China before ultimately settling in the Gulf, where he's represented clubs in Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

The goals have followed at a breathtaking rate, breaking records aplenty in Saudi football.

No one has scored more goals in a single season -- either in the league or the cup; no one has scored more hat-tricks in the Saudi top flight; and he's the all-time leading scorer in the Saudi King Cup, which has been running since 1957.

Hamdallah's form has translated to the Asian Champions League -- he won the Golden Boot in 2020 -- but he hasn't truly been trusted by a series of Morocco coaches, making only one previous squad for the national side.

Walid Regragui's decision to call him up after a three-year absence, at the expense of Ayoub El Kaabi and Ryan Mmaee is a risk, given they scored regularly in qualifying, but Hamdallah certainly has a solid body of work at club level.

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Aissa Laidouni (Tunisia)

Laidouni made his Tunisia debut onlu last year, but already he is a critical part in the Carthage Eagles' set-up and seems to be one of the African players seemingly primed for a move to one of Europe's big leagues after the tournament.

Despite being born in the Parisian suburb of Montfermeil, Laidouni embodies the spirit of Tunisian 'grinta' as well as any of the North Africans' fabled midfield battlers of years gone by, and the 25-year-old will likely form one of the hardest-working and -running units in the tournament alongside Ellyes Skhiri.

It could have been so different, with the 25-year-old also eligible for France or Algeria, the land of his father.

With a shaved head and thick beard, Laidouni will be an unmissable presence in the Tunisian line-up, where his determination, combativeness and aggression will give an edge to the Eagles' engine room.

He's been with Hungarian giants Ferencvaros since 2020, winning the league title twice and the Nemzeti Bajnoksag Player of the Year award last term, but his technical prowess match his tenacity so we can expect him to be moving on in 2023.

Gael Ondoua (Cameroon)

Ondoua's life was transformed when the youngster -- then aged nine -- pestered his father, a Cameroonian diplomat posted to Russia, to take him to Europe when he next departed for work. The boy's father agreed, with Ondoua eventually moving to Moscow with his dad.

Ondoua later earned terms after being taken to Lokomotiv Moscow for a trial, and he became the first Black player to graduate from their academy -- a feat of which he's very proud. He excelled with the railway club before signing for Russian giants CSKA Moscow.

"When I started at the academy, it was a little bit difficult with the language and customs but they helped me a lot," Ondoua said earlier this year. "People were working around the clock to help me.

"I was the only Black guy in the whole academy; the teachers were very patient and my teammates also helped me and facilitated my integration.

"All these people have done a lot for me, I am very grateful. Fifty percent of who I am today comes from Lokomotiv Moscow."

Ondoua currently plays with Hannover 96 in the German second tier, and he was introduced to international football by new Cameroon boss Rigobert Song.

He impressed in the World Cup qualifying playoff victory over Algeria, and he is in Qatar after squeezing veteran Georges Mandjeck out of the squad.