Scouting report: Mauritania’s flying winger

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The Zebras will face Mauritania this weekend at the Francistown Sports Complex in the opening game of Group I of the 2019 AFCON Qualifiers. Mauritania are a lesser known force yet they pack an incredible punch if underestimated as they demonstrated in the 2017 AFCON Qualifiers when they finished second in Group M ahead of South Africa. They beat Bafana Bafana 3-1 in their home game and battled to a 1-1 draw in the away game in Nelspruit.

Their most potent threat is winger cum striker Moulaye Ahmed Khalil Bessam who plays for Algerian club CS Constantine. He is Mauritania’s own version of Eden Hazard given his knack for scoring numerous goals from a left sided midfield position and toying with opposition with dizzying dribbles. Few African players possess technical and tactical skills, topped off with clinical finishing but the Moulaye has all those attributes in abundance.

Moulaye does not score regular types of goals, he years for mazey runs whereby he evades players before slotting the ball home, it is a move that has become his trademark as he demonstrated against South Africa during his country’s 3-1 victory.

He took the ball from the halfway line and dribbled past five players before lobbing the ball over a helpless Itumeleng Khune. At the age of 29 players are normally expected to lose yards from their pace but the Mauritania forward is doing the opposite as he seems to get better with age.

He combines his pace with incredible close control that makes him almost impossible to mark. Whoever plays at rightback or right wingback for the Zebras will have a torrid time if Moulaye is in top form. The right footed forward normally plays on the left wing position but can also play as a secondary striker because of his ability to create and score goals.

Moulaye has scored 12 goals in 31 appearances for Mauritania, he has a big game temperament and always rises to the occasion against the big teams. Amongst his goals, he has scored against the likes of South Africa, Senegal and Tunisia in crucial AFCON and World Cup Qualifiers.

His game is not all about goals, he is also a creative force, his ability to make defence splitting passes and delicate through balls are a danger to the opposition. His only flaw could be that he holds on to the ball a lot at times and his flashy skills often overshadow the graft and hustle of the workaholic Mauritania side.