Cameroon came from behind to beat Egypt 2-1 and seal a fifth Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in a thrilling final.
Vincent Aboubakar came off the bench to score a late goal to steer Cameroon to a 2-1 victory over Egypt in the final of the Gabon 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in Libreville on Sunday (5 February).
The victory helped the Indomitable Lions seal a fifth African title, having won the tournament in 1984, 1988, 2000 and 2002.
The game, which pitched two teams that were given little chances of getting to the final, started on a frantic note, with Egypt dominating early proceedings.
The midfield quartet of Mohammed Elneny, Trezequet, Ahmed Fathi and Wahda made life uneasy for the Indomitable Lions, who were content to soak the early pressure. But they were forced to come off their shell in the 22nd minute when Arsenal’s Elneny gave the Pharaohs the lead.
Elneny, who nearly missed the final due to an injury, showed no after effects of the injury, as he started and finished the move. He fed the ball wide then carried on his run, receiving it from Salah in space before beating Ondoa at the near post.
Egypt played as everyone expected – happy to defend well and let Cameroon take the game onto them, with Salah and Warda set up to hit the Indomitable Lions on the counter – a tactic that nearly resulted in a goal for the Roma striker.
Soon after the goal, Cameroon started seeing plenty of the ball, but just couldn’t find a way past the Egyptian defence, with Ahmed Fathi and Hegazy in particular looking solid.
The fantastic Bassogog was the tormentor in chief for the Lions, with his dashing runs on the left flank proving too difficult for the Pharaohs to contend with.
Bassogog started the move that gave Cameroon the equalizer in the 59th minute. He took a corner, which was charged down, but his return cross was excellent and substitute N’Koulou rose higher than Hegazy to head the ball into the far corner.
The goal was expected to push the Egyptians to action, but they looked tired, as the robust Cameroonians swamped all over them. The winner came in the 85th minute through substitute Vincent Abubakar, who controlled a long ball, chipped it over a defender and volleyed beyond the static El Hadary.
Yesterday’s win gave Cameroun their first title since 2002 and ended Egypt’s 24-match unbeaten run. It was also sweet revenge for the Cameroonians, who lost the 2008 final to the Pharaohs in Ghana.
Cameroon, who denied the Egyptians a chance to win their eighth African title, will host the 2019 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations finals. The reigning champions also qualified for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia following their victory over Egypt in Libreville.
On Saturday, Alain Traore scored a beauty two minutes from time to give Burkina Faso a win 1-0 over Ghana, claiming third place at AFCON 2017.
Bassogog named Man of the Competition
Meanwhile Cameroon forward Christian Bassogog has been adjudged the Man of the Competition, the prize given to the Most Valuable Player of the Africa Cup of Nations Gabon 2017.
The 21-year was influential to Cameroon winning the ultimate, after a 2-1 win over Egypt in the final on Sunday at the Stade de l’Amitie in Libreville, and was deservingly named the best player of the competition by the CAF Technical and Study Group.
Here is the list of honours;
Man of the Competition: Christian Bassogog (Cameroon)
Man of the Final Match: Benjamin Moukandjo (Cameroon)
Fair Play prize: Egypt
Top Scorer: Junior Kabananga (DR Congo) – 3 goals
CAF Team of the tournament:
– Goalkeeper: Fabrice Ondoa (Cameroon)
– Defenders: Modou Kara Mbodji (Senegal), Ahmed Hegazy (Egypt), Michael Ngadeu (Cameroon)
– Midfielders: Charles Kabore (Burkina Faso), Daniel Amartey (Ghana), Bertrand Traore (Burkina Faso), Christian Atsu (Ghana), Mohamed Salah (Egypt)
– Forwards: Christian Bassogog (Cameroon), Junior Kabananga (DR Congo)
Kola Tella with agency reports