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Goal.com ranks the most memorable moments of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea

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By Rami Ayari

The 2012 Africa Cup of Nations will go down in history as one of the most memorable ever as it produced a first-time winner in Zambia, while the co-hosts Gabon and Equatorial Guinea both advanced at the expense of more fancied sides.

It also featured some amazing show of skills, thrills and goals, and more importantly, high drama both on and off the pitch.

Goal.com looks back at the top 10 moments of the recently completed continental competition.

10. GYAN DOES IT AGAIN
This was not a top moment in a positive sense but it deserves mentioning simply because of it’s significance to Ghana’s unexpected exit at the hands of eventual 2012 Afcon winners Zambia, as well as the history behind Asamoah Gyan’s misfortune.

When the 26-year-old stepped forward in the seventh minute of the Black Stars' semi-final against the Chipolopolo with a chance to put his team in front, one could not help but think back to his historic missed chance at the 2010 World Cup. Unfortunately for Ghana, history repeated itself, as Gyan's effort in Bata was weak and almost nonchalant.

9. MSAKNI MESMERISES

In two instances, Tunisian dribble-master Youssef Msakni skilfully manoeuvred his way through opposition defences before coolly scoring crucial goals for his team.

The first one came against Morocco, when he scored in the second half to pad the lead in what ended up being a 2-1 win for his side. The astonishing creativity that led to the finish was something to behold and the fact that it was his first international goal made it even more impressive. Msakni then repeated the feat by stabbing an opener against Niger. Coincidentally, Tunisia won both times when Msakni scored at the Afcon, and lost both when he did not.

8. BASHIR ENDS SUDAN'S WAIT
After falling to Cote d’Ivoire in their opener despite putting up a brave fight, it looked like Sudan were on their way out of the competition when a defensive mistake saw them go down 1-0 early on in their match against Angola.

However, Mohamed Ahmed Bashir out-jumped two Palancas Negras defenders to pull his side level with a headed flick, ending Sudan’s 36-year Afcon goal drought. Bashir would later score a second equaliser to earn a vital point for the Falcons of Jediane. The draw, along with a 2-1 win over Burkina Faso in the next match, allowed the Sudanese to progress to the knockouts for the first time in 42 years.

7. BADU'S SPONTANEOUS INVENTION

This exceptional moment was from one of the top games of the competition. Guinea were giving the Ghanaians everything they could handle but Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu stole the show with a moment of brilliance that will remain etched in many viewers' minds.

The beauty of his opener against the Syli Nationale looked like what was an orchestrated training ground move off a corner kick. As the ball rolled to the Udinese midfielder, it took a strange hop off the pitch but the 21-year-old reacted instinctively with the deftest of touches before unleashing an unforgettable missile into the back of the net.

6. ZITA ZIPS ONE PAST LAMYAGHRI

Bruno Mbanangoye Zita’s free kick wasn’t just impeccably taken but it also concluded one of the most thrilling group matches in Afcon history.

After Morocco had led for the entire first half against the co-hosts, Gabon came back in the second to take a 2-1 lead, a result that would assure them of passage to the quarter-finals for the first time since 1996. But the Atlas Lions still had fight in them as Houssine Kharja scored a penalty in the 90th minute, offering the north Africans a glimmer of hope. Seven minutes later, Zita squashed chances of a Moroccan revival with a free kick that sent the crowd into raptures.

5. DROGBA'S DISASTER
When Gervinho was fouled by Isaac Chansa in the 69th minute of the final, it looked like the Elephants’ long wait for the elusive Afcon title was about to end. Their star striker stepped up to the spot, ready to put them one step closer to glory, but it was not to be.

Instead of scoring, Drogba dramatically missed his second penalty of the tournament, this time by doing his best Roberto Baggio impersonation. It was terribly harsh on one of the players of the tournament, who at least received recognition for scoring in the shoot-out, but that was little consolation to his countrymen as they failed at the last hurdle once again.


4. MAYUKA HEAPS MISERY ON BLACK STARS

"If you don't score, you concede." In no match was this football truism more evident than the semi-final encounter between Ghana and Zambia where the southern Africans emerged victorious despite the Black Stars thoroughly dominating possession and playing their best football of the tournament.

However, all of their domination and chances created were for naught when Emmanuel Mayuka collected the ball on the edge of the penalty area 78 minutes into the match and curled a beautiful shot past an outstretched Adam Kwarasey, as the Zambians showcased their counterattacking efficiency.


3. KILY'S SENEGAL STUNNER

It’s not often that you get to knock out a tournament favourite and send your national team to the second round of a continental competition, but that’s precisely what the lively right-back Kily did for Equatorial Guinea. The Nzalang Nacional were facing a Senegalese side fighting for survival.

When the Teranga Lions equalised, the natural inclination was to think that perhaps the co-hosts’ fairytale was about to unravel.
But Kily brought back the euphoria and then some with a lightning bolt of a strike on the last play of the game, sending the west Africans tumbling out and his team to the next round on their first ever attempt at doing so.

2. RENARD CARRIES INJURED MUSONDA TO CELEBRATE

The Zambians gave us a plethora of memories on their way to the title, but a moment that touched the hearts of many viewers around the world was when coach Herve Renard carried an injured Joseph Musonda all the way from the bench to the corner flag so that the veteran defender could celebrate with the rest of his team-mates.

A tearful Musonda had been forced to limp out of the game in the first half and sobbed openly at his misfortune as it could very well have been his last international match. But once the shoot-out was finished, he could do nothing but smile.

1. ZAMBIANS LAY WREATHS AT '93 CRASH SITE

Amazingly, the top moment of the 2012 Afcon did not even occur on the football pitch. Zambia’s coronation in Libreville had a feeling of destiny about it and there is no doubt that the amazing spirit that the Chipolopolo embodied was partially powered by their determination to honour their fallen national team heroes who died when their plane crashed in Gabon on their way to face Senegal in 1993.

The Zambians returned to the site of the tragedy with FA president Kalusha Bwalya, singing traditional songs and laying wreaths before their final against Cote d’Ivoire. It was a touching moment and a reminder that football is about team unity.

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