Africa Cup of Days Past

Posted January 19th, 2015 at 9:22 pm (UTC-4)
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Nelson Mandela joins South African captain Neil Tovey in lifting the AFCON trophy in 1996. (AP)

The tournament has only begun in Equatorial Guinea but football drama is already in the air.

With Senegal recording the most memorable win so far, coming back from a goal down to beat Ghana 2-1 with the last kick of the game, VOA decided to look back at some of the most unforgettable moments in AFCON history.


5. South Africa lift first ever trophy

South Africa hosted the tournament in 1996, making their first ever appearance after a decades long ban because of apartheid in the country, and boy did they announce their return in grand style. Having beaten the likes of Cameroon, Algeria and Ghana, South Africa reached the final where they faced Tunisia. Playing in front of the late South African leader Nelson Mandela, a multi-colored Bafana Bafana scored two late goals to beat Tunisia and lift their first title.

4. Mali hold back Angola after an improbable comeback

Perhaps one of the best opening matches the tournament will ever see, the match between Angola and Mali churned out a whopping 8 goals. Angola, playing host to the biannual tournament, had all but wrapped up the game, leading Mali by four goals to nil after the 75th minute. But football knows no formalities and with the clock winding down, a Kanoute and Keita inspired Malian national team kept piling up the pressure and the goals, scoring the equalizing goal with 10 seconds left on the clock.


3. Cameroon don new jerseys, forget sleeves, then shorts

When it comes to experimental team uniforms, Puma and Cameroon have a very long history of trying out the good, the bad, and the ugly together. Cameroon’s entry into uniform folklore started in 2002, where the then defending champions went to Mali wearing sleeveless shirts. The Cameroonians wore their eccentric, and seemingly lucky, shirts all the way to the final where they would beat Senegal on penalties to claim their second title in a row. The ill-fated jerseys would soon be banned by FIFA though, taking Cameroon’s chances of qualifying from the 2002 World Cup group stages with them.


FIFA and Cameroon faced off again in 2004, when Puma and Cameroon decided to partner on a swimsuit styled one piece jersey, leading many to wonder…

Who comes up with these ideas anyway?

2. The goal that wasn’t…

Goal line technology will eventually be the norm in refereeing but if you are a fan of the Nigerian national team, you’d wish it would have come a lot sooner, 15 years sooner to be exact. Rewind  to the final of AFCON 2000. With two golden generations of footballers taking on the field, Nigeria and Cameroon are headed to penalties, having drawn 2-2 after extra time.

And then, the goal that wasn’t.

After future Nigerian legend Kanu misses his team’s 3rd penalty, Victor Ikpeba takes Nigeria’s 4th. As his shot ricochets off the top crossbar and hits the ground, Ikpeba walks away in disgust, believing to have missed his penalty.  But to the local fans’ dismay, the replay shows that the ball had crossed the line as it bounced behind the goalkeeper.  This “miss” ends up being the decisive factor as Cameroon miss one penalty, but score the last one to wrap up the trophy.

(watch at the 7:35 mark to see the goal that never happened)



And finally…

A list inspired by the first comeback win of AFCON 2015 must finish with a comeback story, and number one on our list is arguably one of the most incredible finishes to a football match, courtesy of

1.     DRC’s comeback for the ages

Down 4-1 to Mali after 86 minutes in a match for a third place finish at AFCON 1998, DRC delivers an inspired performance to score 3 goals in 4 minutes! This sends the game into extra time where DRC would eventually secure third place on penalties.

Football, you just can’t predict the beautiful game.


– Teff Teffera

Teff Teff
Raised in Ethiopia, Teff Teff has played the game for as long as he remembers. He is a huge Manchester United supporter who tries to emulate his heroes the best way he can, on FIFA or at the local park. He is a multimedia producer for the Africa Division at VOA, where he spreads the football gospel to anyone who listens.

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