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Africans to watch in the UCL qualifiers

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African talents to watch in the Champions League second qualifying round

Eboue Kouassi
Eboue Kouassi

With over a month to go until the Champions League group stage draw, the competition's qualifying is well underway, with 34 teams set to compete in the second round this week.

The five teams to have progressed from the first qualifying round have been joined by another 29 sides who enter at this stage of the competition.

The start of the season may seem like a silhouette on the horizon for some of Africa's top stars, while others are already preparing for potentially the biggest match of their season.

In this feature, KweséESPN pick out some of the continent's most high-profile players who are set to compete in the UCL second qualifying round.

Eboue Kouassi, Celtic: Kouassi has struggled to make an impact at Celtic Park since moving to the African giants from Krasnodar earlier this year, with injury stymieing his progress.

The powerful Ivorian has endured more misfortune during preseason, sitting out the Hoops' preseason friendlies, but Brendan Rodgers has patience with the 19-year-old talent. There's still a genuine hope that Kouassi can emerge as the long-term successor to captain Scott Brown in the heart of midfield.

It remains to be seen if he'll be back in time to feature against Northern Irish side Linfield in the first leg on Friday, but Kouassi should get his opportunity later in the competition.

Dino Ndlovu, Qarabag: After tearing through defences in Cyprus with Anorthosis Famagusta, Ndlovu moved to Qarabag last year.

He ended his first campaign in Azerbaijan as a league winner and won the Player of the Month award in March, but struggled to impress in the Europa League - netting just once in six outings.

The Bafana Bafana hitman will be hoping that his continental fortunes improve this season, starting with a two-legged tie against Georgia's Samtredia.

Adeshina Lawal, Vikingur Gota: You don't find too many Nigerians plying their trade in the isolated Faroe Islands, but, like a few other players on this list, Lawal has taken the road less travelled during his career, and signed for Vikingur Gota earlier this year.

The 32-year-old has been one of the most deadly frontmen in the Faroese top flight since joining B36 Torshavn in 2013, and it was his strike in the first qualifying round first leg victory over Trepca'89 that set the Vikings on their way to a 6-2 aggregate triumph.

John Ogu, Hapoel Be'er Sheva: Ogu enjoyed one of the best campaigns of his career last season, delivering a series of influential outings as his Israeli side broke new ground in Europe.

They may have fallen just short in the Champions League - losing to Celtic in the qualifiers - but home and away wins over Internazionale in the Europa League were the greatest results in the club's history.

Ogu's form also led to an international recall and he's taken his place in Gernot Rohr's new young Nigeria squad.

He's got two Israeli titles under his belt now, but can Be'er Sheva make up for last season's qualification elimination and reach the UCL group stage this time around?

Samuel Tetteh, Red Bull Salzburg: The Ghana international is another player who has struggled with injury during the preseason, and while he will miss the Austrians' first leg against Hibernians, he could make a return for the second leg.

The versatile attacker sat out Salzburg's title-winning campaign last season with injury after moving to the club in January, but has already proved his goalscoring quality in the Austrian league with Liefering, and will be keen to make up for lost time this term.

Tetteh will surely see the Champions League as an invaluable opportunity to make an impression on new Ghana boss Kwesi Appiah, with other players having moved above him in the pecking order in recent months.

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