One African footballer who is off to an excellent start this season in the English Premier League is 26-year-old Senegalese striker Demba Ba of Newcastle United.

Through 12 league matches, Ba has bagged eight goals for the Magpies of Newcastle, the most by any African player. Ba scored his first goals for the club on September 24, 2011, when he recorded a hat-trick against Blackburn Rovers in a 3-1 victory. Ba got another hat-trick in a 3-1 road victory over Stoke City.

With Demba Ba delivering goals, Newcastle is currently in fourth position after 12 matches. “I think a lot of people are surprised about what we’re doing,” says Ba. “When I signed here and saw the quality of the players we have, I’m not really surprised by how we’re playing.” Ba signed a three-year contract with Newcastle United on June 17, 2011. Last season, he was the leading scorer for West Ham United, another English club, with seven goals in 12 matches.

We could also see Demba Ba scoring goals for Senegal at the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations tournament, which will be co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. The Lions of Teranga from Senegal are bidding for their first Nations Cup crown. Their best showing came at the 2002 tournament in Mali, where they lost in the final to Cameroon. That same year, the Senegalese advanced to the quarterfinals at the World Cup, which was co-hosted by Japan and South Korea.

“I think this team has a great future ahead of her,” says Ba. “Senegal has many young talented players and can build a bright future and win a lot of titles. I would be very proud to bring the Africa Cup home to Senegal.”