I think it’s fair to say that the West African country of Niger doesn’t have a history of producing world-class footballing talent, but one player, 21 year-old Ouwo Moussa Maazou, might just be about to change all that.
A fast and tall striker with superb ability in the air, Maazou began his career with Nigerien armed-forces club ASFAN before being spotted by Belgian Jupiler league side Lokeren in 2008 and taken to Europe. In his debut season for the club Maazou scored 14 goals, finishing as the division’s joint fourth-highest goalscorer and attracting plenty of attention from some of Europe’s biggest clubs.
A move eventually materialised in the January of 2009, Maazou agreeing terms with CSKA Moscow but being loaned back to the Belgian side for a few months before eventually being registered with the Russian side in the March of the same year. Having made a handful of appearances for CSKA (three goals in 15 games), the Nigerien was again shipped out on loan by his parent club, this time joining AS Monaco at the start of the year.
Since joining Les Rouge et Blanc, Maazou has again impressed with his dynamism and ability to run at the heart of opposition defences, the undoubted highlight of his time at the Stade Louis II being the extra-time winner he scored to send Monaco through to the final of the Coupe de France where they will face Paris Saint Germain, another team rumoured to be keen to sign the player.
Noted for his excellent work ethic in training and a willingness to learn from his fellow professionals, Maazou undoubtedly has the attitude needed to succeed in Europe and his presence is surely only positive for the development of the game in Niger. If he can continue on his steep upward curve of improvement then Maazou could well become one of the best African players of his generation and a sporting pioneer for a country which is yet to make its mark on the world game.