Afcon hit by goal shortage

2012-02-09 10:29

Libreville – Goals have been a scarce commodity in recent Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals with just five in the last five showpiece matches at the biennial tournament.

And three of those came when hosts Tunisia edged Morocco in 2004 for a maiden title, with a solitary goal in two others and another couple settled by penalty shoot-outs following 120 barren minutes.

A glance at the 26 matches that crowned the best national football team on the continent shows an alarming dip in goals with the first 13 producing 42 and the second 13 only 18 for an overall 2.3 average.

Neutrals hope leading 2012 Afcon sharpshooters like Emmanuel Mayuka and Christopher Katongo of Zambia and Didier Drogba of Ivory Coast can get the net bulging again when they meet in the final at Stade de l’Amitie here on Sunday.

Mayuka, Katongo and Drogba share the three-goal mark with Gabonese Pierre Aubameyang, Moroccan Houcine Kharja and Angolan Manucho, whose nations have been eliminated.

There have been dramatic Afcon finals – mainly in the distant past – with Egypt scoring just twice in the finals they won between 2006 and 2010 for a record three consecutive titles.

The Pharaohs pipped Ivory Coast on penalties at home in Cairo six years ago. Mohamed Abou Treika fired the 2008 winner past Cameroon and Mohamed Nagy was the match-winner against Ghana two years ago.

It was a far cry from the first final in 1957 when Egyptian El Diba hit all the goals in a 4-0 rout of Ethiopia with hosts Sudan the only other competitors as South Africa were barred for refusing to field a multiracial team.

Egypt became the only team to lead twice in a final and still fail when they went down 4-2 after extra time to hosts Ethiopia five years later with Menguistu Worku bagging a brace for the champions.

Ghana were ahead and behind at hosts Tunisia in 1965 before Frank Odoi struck six minutes into extra time to snatch a 3-2 win and a second consecutive title for the Black Stars.

No Afcon final has been turned on its head quite so dramatically as the 1972 showdown in Cameroon with Congo Brazzaville scoring three goals within seven minutes.

Trailing to a lone first-half Mali goal, Michel M’Bono struck twice and Francois M’Pele once in a mid-second half blitz and the Red Devils went on to triumph 3-2 for their lone success.

The following final was won by Zaire, the nation on the other side of the Congo River, with Mulamba Ndaye stealing the show by scoring twice in a 2-2 draw and twice again in a 2-0 replay victory.

Cameroon emerged as a continental force for the first time in 1984 by coming from behind to defeat Nigeria 3-1 in an Abidjan, Ivory Coast, thriller with Theophile Abega grabbing the crucial second goal 11 minutes from time.

Hosts Algeria thrashed Nigeria 5-1 in the opening match of the 1990 tournament and they met again in the closing match with a first-half Cherif Oudjani goal that separated the sides the second time round.

Although Ivory Coast and Ghana could not score two years later in Dakar, Senegal, there was a gripping climax with a 24-penalty shoot-out before the Ivorians lifted the trophy for the first and only time.

The most emotional climax was in Tunisia when a Zambian team built after a crash off Gabon wiped out the 1993 national squad took a fourth-minute lead over Nigeria only to be felled by an Emmanuel Amunike brace.

Previously unknown Mark Williams was the star of the 1996 Johannesburg final, scoring twice within a few minutes during the second half to give debutants South Africa a 2-0 win over Tunisia with president Nelson Mandela looking on.

But the most dramatic finale of recent times came in Lagos, Nigeria, 12 years ago when a Cameroon side fielding an emerging Samuel Eto’o surrendered a two-goal advantage over the Super Eagles only to stun the home crowd by winning on penalties. 

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