On Sunday evening the eyes of Africa fell for the final time on Gabon’s capital Libreville. A packed Stade de I’Amitie played host to the return of the sleeping giants of African football as Cameroon took on Egypt in a repeat of the 2008 African Cup of Nations final. Back then Egypt won the tense, cagey affair 1-0 to win their record seventh Afcon title.
This final however, began brightly as Abdallah El Said had the first shot on goal inside two minutes. But the Al Ahly attacker saw his effort well saved by the ever impressive Fabrice Ondoa in the Cameroonian goal. From there, Cameroon began to dominate possession as the Egyptians relied on their solid defending and speed on the counter. The approach paid dividends in the 21st minute as the deadlock was broken. After neat interplay on the edge of the Cameroon box, Mohamed Elneny found himself in space down the righthand side and beat Ondoa at his near post with a fierce effort. The rest of the half was a tightly contested affair as the Egyptian’s seemed content to soak up pressure and try to extend their lead through counter attacks.
The resumption of the second half looked to be giving us more of the same. Egypt were sitting deep and appeared to be comfortable just to defend their one goal advantage. However, Egypt’s plans were scuppered in the 58th minute as the Indomitable Lions grabbed the equaliser. Substitute Nicolus N’Koulou, on for the injured Teikeu, saw his superbly executed header beat veteran Egyptian goalkeeper Essam El Hadary. The match again became a cagey affair with chances few and far between as both teams defended valiantly. This was until the 87th minute where a moment of individual brilliance by another Cameroonian substitute, Vincent Aboubakar, earned him a place in Cameroonian folklore. The Besiktas forward smashed home his effort after beating three Egyptian defenders with a delightful backheel flick. The goal dashed the hopes of Hector Cuper’s men and yet again saw praise for Cameroon coach Hugo Broos as his inspired substitutions proved to be decisive.
Egypt pressed forward desperately in search of salvation but it was all too late. With the final whistle blown the stadium erupted in scenes of jubilation and joyful tears as the unfancied Cameroonians secured their fifth Afcon title against all the odds.