FT's 10 Best Moments of 2018: #9 Oh hail, King Hakim

At FirstTouch, we have a saying that goes like, “a year is never over until we close it.” In the spirit of that ideal, we took our time to look back at the ten most defining moments of 2018, as far as African football is concerned. Could you guess what they are? We are already on number 9.

The 25-year-old effectively became one of the hottest playmakers in the modern game. With an arm like left foot, eagle eye for goal and horse-like work rate, Ziyech entered the class of the likes of Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil, Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne, Lionel Messi or Juan Mata.
— Dennis Takaendesa, FirstTouch Africa
Hakim Ziyech of Ajax is challenged by Ljubomir Fejsa of Benfica (L) and Gedson of Benfica during the Group E match of the UEFA Champions League between Ajax and SL Benfica at Johan Cruyff Arena on October 23, 2018 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  (Oct. 22, 2018 - Source: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images Europe)

Hakim Ziyech of Ajax is challenged by Ljubomir Fejsa of Benfica (L) and Gedson of Benfica during the Group E match of the UEFA Champions League between Ajax and SL Benfica at Johan Cruyff Arena on October 23, 2018 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

(Oct. 22, 2018 - Source: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images Europe)

By now it’s almost an undisputable fact that every football fan no matter which part of the world, have heard the names Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane. Liverpool’s literally high flying wing men who are arguably the best there is as far as African football is concerned and very much leading the charge as the Merseyside club soars higher. Not the same can be said about Morocco’s star man.

The year 2018 is one that Hakim Ziyech reached a level where beyond reasonable doubt, football fans everywhere would agree that he is a talent to adore. The 25-year-old effectively became one of the hottest playmakers in the modern game. With an arm like left foot, eagle eye for goal and horse-like work rate, Ziyech entered the class of the likes of Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil, Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne, Lionel Messi or Juan Mata. How far he falls in that list is a debate for another day but he is definitely a player that increasingly deserved a mention as the year went by.

The Dutch Eredivisie player is the reigning top player in the league after winning the most recent award to celebrate his greatness. Even in the running year, he is already on seven goals and four assists in just 12 appearances for Ajax. Adding cream and extra toppings to the cake was his world cup performance for the Lions of the Atlas in Russia, though bowing out in the group stages but recognizable in his approach and football wit. Consistence became one his key attributes as the impressive showings continued even in the UEFA Champions League, leading Ajax to the knockout stages of the 2018/19 tournament. His nation loves him, bagging Morocco’s recent two goals as they sunk Cameroon in the 2019 AFCON Qualifiers to secure a place in next year’s finals.

With such talent, loads of consistence – only one can imagine how far Hakim will go in the coming year. Indeed, Oh Hail, King Hakim!