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Last Updated: Friday, 14 September 2007, 13:52 GMT 14:52 UK
Portsmouth's African army
By Ben Wyatt,
BBC Sport

Nigeria's John Utaka
John Utaka has fast become a fan's favourite at Fratton Park.
Premier League clubs have many fans in Africa though they normally support one of four teams: Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea.

However, there is one club, which despite its low profile on the continent, has more African players in their squad than any other top-flight team.

Portsmouth now have seven of Africa's finest among their ranks.

Having recently captured Senegal's Papa Bouba Diop, manager Harry Redknapp has signed up an array of the continent's talent.

Fratton Park is now home to the all-Nigerian strike force of Nwankwo Kanu and John Utaka, Ghana's midfield maestro Sulley Muntari, Mali defender Djimi Traore, Cameroon's Lauren and Zimbabwe forward Benjani Mwaruwari.

Portsmouth's Nwankwo Kanu and Benjani Mwaruwari
Portsmouth's Nwankwo Kanu and Benjani Mwaruwari celebrate a goal
Despite this assistant manager Joe Jordan denies the existence of an 'Africa specific' transfer policy.

"The players we have brought to the club are there because they are the best we could find for their respective positions.

"As long as the players who come into the club apply themselves we are glad to welcome them," Jordon added.

John Utaka could safely be described as a player applying himself to the Portsmouth cause.

Since moving from French side Rennes in the pre-season, Utaka has become a fan's favourite , scoring in the club's opening two matches of the season.

As long as the players who come into the club apply themselves we are glad to welcome them
Assistant Manager Joe Jordon

"It has been made easier for me to settle in because of all our African players.

"Especially with Kanu, who was a major reason behind me joining the club - I enjoy playing with him in the team."

Benjani Mwaruwari agrees there is a palpable effect of African contingent in the team.

"If you play with good players it reduces the pressure on yourself as an individual, I think the Africans we have here help us to perform."

SEE ALSO
Portsmouth capture striker Utaka
11 Jul 07 |  Portsmouth
Portsmouth land Diop from Fulham
31 Aug 07 |  Portsmouth
Kanu looking to hit scoring form
07 Aug 07 |  African


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