Substitutes deliver AFCON title to Cameroon after 15 years

By alex wafula
Feb 06, 2017
  • Cameroon came from one goal down to with the continental title by beating Egypt 2-1. (Photo Courtesy)

  • Egypt led for the better part of the match before a comeback by Cameroon in the second half. (Photo Courtesy)

Two substitutes came off the bench to score and help Cameroon win their first African Cup of Nations title since 2002.

Striker Vincent Aboubakar, a tactical change early in the second half scored the winner with two minutes left after another substitute, defender Nicolas Nkolou equalized for the Indomitable Lions earlier.

Cameroon had come up strong in the second half and Nkolou equalized with a strong header. The centre back had come on at the half hour mark for Adolphe Teikou who was stretchered off with a groin injury.

Aboubakar then scored a stunning goal in the dying minutes under pressure from two defenders to bury the game.

The significance of the victory was not only enjoyed on the field where the players ran in jubilation but on the stands as well with the VIP dias having former Cameroon greats Samuel Eto’o and Roger Milla celebrating in frenzy.

This is the fifth title for the West Africans and the first time they were winning against Egypt’s Pharaohs in three attempts. The two last met in a final in 2008 where Egypt won 1-0.

Hector Cuper, the Egyptian coach also failed in his attempt of clearing the curse of the final, having lost five previous finals.

Broos forced to build a new team

It is a huge result for Hugo Broos, the Cameroon coach who was forced to build up an almost new team after most of the European-based players turned down call ups to play at the AFCON.

Joel Matip and Allan Nyom who play in the English Premier League for Liverpool and West Brom respectively were some of the players who refused to travel to Gabon to play for the Indomitable Lions.

Egypt had started the match on a positive note and inside the first two minutes, they already had their first effort on target. Abdallah El Said was put through by Mohammed Salah, but the midfielder’s shot was well saved by Joseph Ondoa in the Cameroon goal.

Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny then made the most of Egypt’s superb start to the match, blasting the ball into the net from the right after a great interchange by the Pharaohs which saw Salah put the dreadlocked midfielder through.

Cameroon’s bad first half was made worse when defender Teikeu was stretchered off but they had the solace of looking on the experience of Nkolou.

Elneny returning to the side after missing the last two games with injury had put in a shift in midfield, ensuring Egypt were well covered at the back and gave an equal assurance when they went forward.

Second half tide

But in the second half, the tide changed with Cameroon picking up pace. They were rewarded after 59 minutes, Nkolou rising above the towering Ahmed Hegazy to head in a cross from captain Benjamin Moukandjo.

With extra time appearing inevitable, Cameroon had the final laugh with Aboubakar scoring a goal worth a final. The burly Besiktas forward chest-controlled a long pass, lifted it over the advancing Ali Gabr and fired past a dazed Esam El Hadary in the Egypt goal.

Cameroon managed to hold on to the lead, though in added time the Egyptians had a chance from a free kick which was blasted over by Elneny.