Meet Africa's exciting new crop of international debutants

Africa's first international break in almost a year has predictably led to a swathe of new faces being called up by their respective nations.

Indeed, this is the first opportunity that head coaches have had to reward players for their strong performances since March, when nations announced their squads ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, which were later postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Those players who were meant to make their international bow in the northern spring will finally get their opportunity to impress, while others who have enjoyed a strong 2020 at club level can now prove that they deserve to be considered among their nation's top stars.

There will be no future in African football for England new kid Bukayo Saka or new Spain cap Adama Traore, who have made their bows for European nations, but here are six African players who are in line to make their international debuts this week.

Cyriel Dessers

Dessers would have been a Nigeria international already had it not been for COVID-19, with the Netherlands-born striker one of the players who missed out on a likely debut when the March qualifiers were postponed.

He was also unfortunate in that the Eredivisie season was curtailed early, denying him the chance to officially win the Golden Boot, although he was the top scorer on 15 goals, when the campaign was brought to a premature close.

It was a superb return for a player at relatively modest Heracles, but was enough for Dessers to secure a move to Belgian heavyweights Genk, where he already has two goals, and he must now demonstrate that he can compete with Victor Osimhen for the privilege to lead the line for the Super Eagles.

CSKA Moscow new boy Chidera Ejuke, who moved to Russia after netting nine goals in the Eredivisie last term, is another who has been made to wait for his Nigeria debut after missing out in March.

Boulaye Dia

With Sadio Mane out of action after receiving a positive COVID-19 test, Senegal will be searching for a new talisman in the final third when they unite for the international window.

They have no shortage of options, with the likes of Ismaila Sarr, Habib Diallo and Ibrahima Niane all spearheading this exciting new generation.

Receiving his maiden call-up this time around is Stade de Reims forward Dia, who has been biding his time since first being approached by Aliou Cisse in January.

The striker's transition to international football should be helped by his ex-Reims teammate and new Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, who mentored the forward during his time in the Champagne region.

"He took me under his wing like his little brother," French-born Dia told journalists ahead of his likely debut this weekend.

With three goals in five Ligue 1 outings so far this term, the 23-year-old is certainly in hot form as he approaches his international bow.

Franck Evina

It's a strange old world when Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting, who signed for Bayern Munich on deadline day, is overlooked for the Cameroon squad, while wonderkid Evina has been called up by his nation despite being cut loose by the German giants.

Having come through the Bayern youth ranks, and made two Bundesliga appearances for the reigning European champions in the 2017-18 season, Evina was deemed surplus to requirements earlier this year, and dropped into the second tier with Hannover 96.

At 20, the forward still has time on his side to return to the pinnacle of the game, and realise the potential he demonstrated as a Germany U-18 international.

He's now received his maiden senior call-up for the Indomitable Lions, and the Bavarian Hulk has the potential to be the new darling of the Cameroon fans.

Clarke Oduor

A really exciting arrival in the Kenya camp, Oduor is already playing at a higher level than almost all of his new Harambee Stars teammates despite only being 21.

He didn't make the breakthrough at Leeds United despite graduating from the club's academy, but has been a big hit at fellow Yorkshiremen Barnsley, where he's won over many admirers with his energetic displays down the left flank.

Oduor has been used at both youth and senior level up and down the left-hand side, and this versatility should make him a valuable asset for Francis Kimanzi's side.

He's already a cult hero with Tykes fans after scoring a 93rd-minute winner against Brentford in the final day of the Championship season to keep Barnsley in the second tier...Kenya fans will soon love him as well.

Tariqe Fosu

One player who was on the opposite side to Oduor in that final Championship clash is Brentford wideman Fosu, who was handed a late call-up to the Ghana squad.

The versatile forward -- who can impress on the left or through the middle -- is, like Oduor, a product of English football's academy system, having made one senior appearance for Reading after initially breaking through at the Madejski Stadium.

At 24, he's primed to make a big impact for the Black Stars, and expect the ex-England U-18 international's contribution to begin in the friendlies against Mali and Qatar this week.

Ghana fans will particularly enjoy the new man's pace, flair and dribbling ability.

Strasbourg's Montpellier-born defender Alexander Djiku is another new arrival in the Ghana camp, where he will compete with the likes of Joseph Aidoo and Nicholas Opoku for a central-defensive berth.

Munir El Haddadi

Thanks to last month's ratification of a new FIFA ruling, allowing players to switch national teams despite playing a competitive match for one other nation, has finally allowed Munir to take his place in the Morocco set-up.

The forward's career was on a completely different trajectory when he made his debut for Spain back in 2014, at which point he was breaking into the first team at Barcelona and appeared destined for the top.

Munir still remains a fine forward -- he was a Europa League winner with Sevilla earlier this year -- but with opportunities with Spain having tried up several years ago, he has been pining for the chance to represent Morocco.

At the time of writing, Munir has completed his informal induction with his new Atlas Lions teammates, although it remains to be seen whether he will get to play in the current international break, as Morocco await official confirmation from FIFA that he is now eligible.