Birmingham City might not have any players involved in AFCON but fans will still be shocked by the man who has take the tournament by storm. Despite Equatorial Guinea having exited in the competition in the last-16 stage after a 1-0 defeat against Guinea, Emilio Nsue leads the goalscoring charts.
In the group stages, the 34-year-old became the first players to bag a treble in the competition since Soufiane Alloudi in 2008 as his side beat Guinea-Bisau 4-2. He followed that up with two more goals in a 4-0 mauling of the Ivory Coast.
He won’t get the opportunity to add that tally and will be wary of Angola’s Gelson Dala, who is second on four goals and could still potentially have three games left in the competition. But he leaves the tournament having continued his prolific rate in international football, scoring 22 times in 43 games.
Those stats might shock the Bluenoses as well as Middlesborough supporters. Nsue joined Boro in 2014 from Mallorca, and was deployed as a right-back. He helped the club win automatic promotion from the Championship in the 2015/16 season, and started their first three games in the Premier League before falling out of favour.
He duly left for Birmingham for a £1million fee the following January, having scored just three times in 80 appearances for the North-East club. After two years at St Andrew’s, where he scored just once in 38 appearances, he left for Apoel in Cyprus.
Again though, he featured as a defender with the club. Now with Spanish third tier club Intercity, Nsue is used in a more advanced role by club and country, and has played wide on the right during AFCON.
However, Equatorial Guinea was never his first choice at international level. Nsue represented a number of Spain’s age-group sides, and was part of the Under-21 squad that won the 2011 European Championships.
Sure enough in 2012 he turned down a chance to represent turned down an invitation to play for Equatorial Guinea, his father’s native country, at the 2012 AFCON. He cited his desire to represent Spain at the London Olympics as the reason for his decision.
But when he failed to win selection, he committed himself to the African country a year later. Nsue has since gone on to be a pivotal player for the National Thunder, and captained them in the Ivory Coast last month.