The derby clash between Cercle Brugge and Club Brugge on Saturday headlines round seven of the Belgium Pro League season, with Senegalese star Mbaye Diagne having the chance to win over fans of the latter club after joining the Blauw-Zwart from Turkish giants Galatasaray late in the transfer window.
Anderlecht had been clear favourites to sign Diagne from Galatasaray, for whom the Teranga Lions striker had not scored in the Super Lig this season having bagged 30 goals in his previous 29 appearances in the Turkish top-flight. Diagne, 27, was transferred to make space for 33-year-old Radamel Falcao. The financial restrictions on Turkish clubs allow them little room for manoeuvre, meaning a 'marquee' player such as Falcao, and the associated wage demands, cannot be supported without some other sacrifice, such as Diagne's departure from Istanbul.
Anderlecht sporting director Michael Verschueren was shocked by the Senegalese star's decision to join Club Brugge.
"'Sorry, we have accepted an offer from Brugge, Mbaye has chosen that club,' they [Galatasaray] said," Verschueren said per Het Laaste Nieuws.
"I did not understand.
"In the meantime I heard that the player had passed the team manager [in the airport] with a hood over his head. Well, then I start asking myself questions."
Club Brugge has an attack that features South African Percy Tau (two goals from four league appearances) and Nigerians David Okereke and Emmanuel Dennis (a combined five goals from nine appearances), and Diagne will have an immediate chance to make himself a cult figure against a Cercle Brugge side that has lost five from six this season, conceding 14 goals.
Diagne, who is returning to Belgium for a third spell in the top flight, having previously played for Lierse and Westerlo, will be the strong man in a 'little and large' partnership with Tau. The 1.93m-tall Diagne can be the focal point of attack, a player capable of holding the ball up and linking play with his midfield, while allowing Tau the freedom to find space in the channel between centre-half and full-back, as he does so well for South Africa's national team.
Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui provides another African narrative to follow in Belgium this weekend, when Gent host Mechelen on Sunday.
Gent have enjoyed a hot streak of form in recent weeks, winning four of their past five games in all competitions, and the Cameroonian defender has quickly established himself as a key man in manager Jess Thorup's team since his transfer from Slavia Prague in July. Ngadeu-Ngadjui has played every minute of Gent's Pro League campaign, scoring goals against both AS Eupen and Sporting Charleroi.
His partnership with Ukrainian Igor Plastun in the heart of the defence still needs some work, however, with Gent shipping six goals in the Belgian top flight this season, and they will face a tough test against Mechelen's Ivorian centre-forward William Togui, who has scored three Pro League goals this season.
The former SC Gagnoa player is a well-rounded attacker, capable of drifting into wider areas to pull defenders out of position, or to find space to run at opponents, but many of his goals arrive in a more traditional 'fox in the box' sense, especially when it comes to his aerial strength.
Belgium Pro League Live on ESPN2
Sunday 15 September
14:30 CAT: Anderlecht vs. Antwerp
18:00 CAT: Gent vs. Mechelen
Eredivisie: Hakim Ziyech to prove why he's statue-worthy
Moroccan star Hakim Ziyech has become such a star for Ajax in the Eredivisie that his birthplace of Dronten has included him in a selection of candidates to have a statue erected in their town hall.
The 26-year-old Atlas Lions winger will have a chance to add to the four goals and one assist he has racked up in the Eredivisie this season when the Amsterdam giants welcome Heerenveen to the Johan Cruyff Arena on Saturday in a game broadcast live on ESPN.
Ziyech's all-round excellence in attack -- he averages, per game, 4.8 shots, 3.3 key passes and 2.3 dribbles -- is the driving force behind Ajax's offensive game, allowing him to link up with the likes of Dusan Tadic, Klaas Jan Huntelaar, Quincy Promes and David Neres.
The Eredivisie champions are second on the log, one point adrift of leaders Vitesse, with a game in hand, and they will be confident of a victory over Heerenveen, against whom they scored 11 goals in three league and cup matches last season. In addition, Ajax have not lost to De Superfriezen in any competition since January 2009.
Two more North Africans feature in the second ESPN Eredivisie broadcast on Saturday, with Oussama Darfalou and Oussama Tannane set to feature in attack for Vitesse against PSV at the Philips Stadion in Eindhoven.
Algerian Darfalou is a fringe player at this point in his Vitesse career, but he is nonetheless capable of making an impact off the bench, while Moroccan Tannane is a regular starter, with his versatility, crossing ability and dead-ball strength valued by manager Leonid Sluskiy.
PSV, however, are on a run of four straight wins across all competitions and they have not lost a competitive match at home since they were beaten 2-1 by Barcelona in November 2018. Victory in Eindhoven will be a tall order for Vitesse, but they showed an ability to compete with the Eredivisie's best when they held Ajax 2-2 at home back in August.
Eredivisie on ESPN2
Saturday 14 September
18:30 CAT: Ajax vs. Heerenveen
20:45 CAT: PSV vs. Vitesse
Turkish Super Lig: African-rich top-of-the-table battle
The top-of-the-table clash between Alanyaspor and Fenerbahce on Monday headlines round four of the Turkish Super Lig, with a bevy of African stars to feature at Bahcesehir Okullari Stadium in Alanya.
Senegalese star Papiss Cisse is the leading scorer in the league, with three of his side's eight goals thus far. The surprise early league leaders can also call on Moroccan Yacine Bammou, Angola's Djalma Campos and DR Congo defender Fabrice N'Sakala..
Fenerbahce are similarly well stocked with African talent, with former Nigeria star Victor Moses, Cape Verde Islands' Garry Rodrigues and Moroccan veteran Nabil Dirar combining to score four goals as they benefit from the team's expansive style.
Elsewhere, Super Lig champions Galatasaray will be in action on Friday, when they host Kasimpasa. The Istanbul giants are expected to give new Gabonese loan signing Mario Lemina his debut, while Nekadio Luyindama, Jean-Michael Seri, Younes Belhanda and Sofiane Feghouli are among the other African stars vying for a starting berth under Fatih Terim.
EFL Championship: Big weekend for Ajayi and Morsy
Ajayi, who returns to West Brom after being away on international duty with Nigeria in midweek, has been a regular under manager Slaven Bilic. The Baggies being one of the best passing teams in the division -- their pass completion percentage of 84.2 is bettered only by their weekend rivals, Fulham -- and the Super Eagles defender's technical ability and comfort on the ball has helped them play out from the back in their unbeaten league campaign. That said, his main task in the Baggies' trip to London will to quelling the potent threat offered by the Cottagers' Aleksandar Mitrovic, who has netted five times in the Championship.
Wigan Athletic, meanwhile, visit Hull City with the teams 20th and 22nd on the ladder respectively. Wigan have gone six matches without a win across all competitions, but they will hope club captain Morsy's return to full fitness helps them turn their campaign around.
The Egypt international's passing and work rate in the middle of the park have been steadily increasing after he missed the start of the season with a hamstring injury. He can help Wigan win the 'engine room' battle, but they'll need their forwards to step up their game: Antonee Robinson, Daniel Fox, Ivorian Cedric Kipre and Cheyenne Dunkley have a combined 20 appearances so far this season but have managed just one goal between them.
A busy Saturday also sees leaders Swansea City play away to Nottingham Forest in a clash which will pit Ghanaians Andre Ayew and Albert Adomah up against one another, DR Congo striker Britt Assombalonga will look to add to his three goals this season when Middlesbrough host Reading, and Peter Etebo's Stoke City will chase their first win when Bristol City visit the Potters.
Sunday features Barnsley hosting Leeds United at Oakwell, while ESPN will have live coverage of Huddersfield Town vs. Sheffield Wednesday in another Yorkshire derby. The Terriers are yet to record a win since their drop from the Premier League and will look to African strikers Steve Mounie and Elias Kachunga to get them up and running against the Owls.
EFL Championship on ESPN2
Saturday 14 September
13:30 CAT: Fulham vs. West Bromwich Albion
16:00 CAT: Hull City vs. Wigan Athletic
Sunday 15 September
13:00 CAT: Huddersfield Town vs. Sheffield Wednesday
English League One: Eisa to continue goal hunt
Sudanese marksman Mohamed Eisa will be looking to continue his goal-scoring form for Peterborough United, at home to Rochdale, as League One continues with a full round of 11 matches on Saturday.
Eisa joined Posh in a record deal from Championship side Bristol City in June, having struggled to establish himself in the second tier. The Sudanese had scored 23 goals for Cheltenham Town in 2017-18, but he failed to find the net in five substitute appearances in the Championship last season. The step up may have been too much for him to handle at the time, but he is now banging in the goals for The Posh, having netted four times in six appearances so far in 2019/20.
Nigeria-born forward Fred Onyedinma, meanwhile, will likely feature for Wycombe Wanderers when the League One leaders face Gillingham at head to Priestfield Stadium, while second-placed Coventry City, who can call on Amadou Bakayoko of Sierra Leone, will face a stern test away to an in-form Burton Albion.
Scottish Premiership: Bayo on hunt for first goal
Ivorian forward Vakoun Bayo, known affectionately as 'The Crow', will be on the hunt for his first Celtic goal when the reigning champions face Hamilton Academical in the early kick-off on Saturday.
Bayo, 22, thought he had scored his first two goals for the Hoops in their 3-1 win over Hearts last month, but the Scottish Professional Football League credited the strikes as own goals by defenders Chris Berra and Craig Halkett. Bayo, naturally, disagreed:
"I scored twice," he said after the game. "I touched the ball for the first goal, the defender also got a touch on it but I got the last touch on it. I got the last touch for both goals, I disagree they were own goals."
Despite officially sitting on zero goals, Bayo can still take confidence from his recent performances, and the chance to test a Hamilton defence that has shipped eight goals in four matches should have him excited for the resumption of the Scottish top flight.