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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 December 2006, 11:50 GMT
African strikers graduate
Mali's Frederic Kanoute
Kanoute is the leading scorer in Spain with 12 goals

The stereotype of an African striker used to be a player full of flair but lacking in the finishing department.

A glance across the list of leading goal scorers in the top European leagues, however, shows that caricature has been laid to rest.

As many European countries head into the winter break, African names dominate the lists of top marksmen in the major leagues, notably the English premier league which opened up to African talent long after clubs on the rest of the continent.

Didier Drogba's glorious long-range effort, which secured a come-from-behind 3-2 win for Chelsea at Everton on Sunday, was his 10th of the league season and put him ahead on the goal-scoring charts for the first time this season.

The Ivory Coast captain moved above the Nigerian international Nwankwo Kanu, whose career has found new impetus since a move to Portsmouth and a resultant nine goals.

Many of those have come from the head of the lanky former Inter Milan and Arsenal player, who had previously rarely been able to apply the finishing touch in the air.

Kanu, who last season played at relegated West Bromwich Albion, has managed to shake off a languid image thanks to the sudden discovery of the rewards of application.

In Spain, Mali's Frederic Kanoute became the top scorer on Sunday while in Belgium the Burundi-born Mohamed Tchite and unheralded Nigerian Patrick Ogunsoto share top place in the scoring charts. They have 12 goals each.

Congolese-born Blaise Nkufo, who is a Swiss international, is the second top goal scorer in the Dutch league while the list of leading marksmen in the French Ligue 1 features three Africans among the top nine.

Ismael Bangoura of Le Mans has emerged as the surprise package of the French league.

Eight goals for the Guinea international make him joint leading goal scorer.

One goal behind are Ivorian international Aruna Dindane of Racing Lens and Guinea captain Pascal Feindouno of St Etienne.

"I don't see why I can't finish the season as the club and league's top scorer," says Bangoura, whose former national team coach Patrice Neveu says he is a born goal scorer.

"I've rarely seen a player who can strike the ball awfully hard without taking a great swing," Neveu said.

Kanoute struck his 12th league goal of the season as Sevilla went back to the top of the Spanish standings on Sunday with a 3-1 win at Recreativo Huelva.

Tchite last week declared his intention to play for Belgium once his naturalisation process has been completed, which Anderlecht club officials said was just a matter of weeks away.

Ogunsoto plays for unfashionable Westerlo and was signed from the Greek second division at the start of the season.



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