The Africans chasing European glory and history

Europe’s major club competitions are reaching their climax and several African players stand on the brink of history.

There is strong representation from the continent in all three European finals, with the six teams involved all having Africans in their ranks.

Chief amongst them are the contingent at Bayer Leverkusen, who are aiming to seal the second part of an ‘invincible treble’ when they face Atalanta in the Europa League final on Wednesday.

Below, BBC Sport Africa runs down the men who have made key contributions and who could be adding to their trophy cabinets over the next week and a half.

Boniface and co in hunt for unique treble

Leverkusen racked up a European record-extending 51st game unbeaten against Augsburg on Saturday as Victor Boniface opened the scoring for the German champions.

The striker, alongside compatriot Nathan Tella, will come up against fellow Nigeria international Ademola Lookman, who was pivotal in helping the Super Eagles finish as runners-up at the Africa Cup of Nations in February.

There will be a strong West African flavor to the final in Dublin, with players from Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Mali also represented.

Odilon Kossounou could add the Europa League title to the Nations Cup winners medal he picked up with the Ivorians, while fellow defender Edmund Tapsoba and Morocco forward Amine Adli has also featured regularly for Leverkusen this season.

Winger Lookman and Mali striker El Bilal Toure both scored in the second leg of their semi-final to help Atalanta reach their first European final before the pair missed out on lifting the Coppa Italia against Juventus last week.

Can El Kaabi fire Greek giants to maiden title?

Ayoub El Kaabi has scored 32 goals since joining Olympiakos from Qatari side Al-Sadd last August

Despite registering a record 47 Greek league titles, Olympiakos are yet to lift a major continental trophy.

The giants from the port of Piraeus could break that duck against Italian side Fiorentina in the Europa Conference League next week – and Morocco’s Ayoub El Kaabi has been a major factor in their progress to the final.

The 30-year-old striker is the top scorer in this season’s competition with 10 goals – with half of that tally coming in the semi-final win over Aston Villa.

El Kaabi struck a hat-trick in the first leg, a 4-2 win away from home, and added two more in the return as the Greeks sealed a 6-2 aggregate victory.

Fellow Atlas Lions forward Youssef El Arabi and Guinea midfielder Mady Camara have also featured in the campaign.

The fact the final on Wednesday, 29 May is being played at the home of rivals AEK Athens would make a title win all the sweeter for Olympiakos.

Standing in their way are La Viola, who have Angola forward M’bala Nzola and Ghana midfielder Alfred Duncan in their ranks.

Nzola has chipped in with three goals – including an injury-time winner in the first leg of their last-four clash against Club Bruges – and provided two assists, while Duncan has featured five times on the road to Athens.

Haller in line for Nations Cup-Champions League double

Will Sebastien Haller be fit in time to help Borussia Dortmund win a first Champions League title since 1997?

Sebastien Haller could join a very select club when Borussia Dortmund take on Spanish giants Real Madrid in the Champions League final in London on Saturday, 1 June.

The 29-year-old striker capped a remarkable comeback from testicular cancer when he scored the winner in the Nations Cup final for Ivory Coast in February.

Now, he could become just the third man to become a major continental champion in Africa and Europe in the same season.

Former Cameroon pair Samuel Eto’o and Geremi helped Real to the Champions League title in 2000 after winning the Nations Cup earlier in the year, with Geremi still with Madrid for their triumph in 2002.

Haller has struggled with an ankle injury in recent weeks but could be on the bench at Wembley, while Algeria defender Ramy Bensebaini will definitely miss out for Dortmund after suffering a ligament injury in March.

The Spaniards, meanwhile, are chasing a record-extending 15th European Cup/Champions League triumph as Carlo Ancelotti looks to retain the trophy.

Brahim Diaz, who made his Morocco debut in March after switching allegiance from Spain, contributed eight goals and seven assists as Real won La Liga.

The 24-year-old has largely been used as a substitute during the Madrid club’s run to the final but will hope to win the competition for the first time after three seasons on loan in Italy with AC Milan.

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