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Ranking Africa's greatest World Cup goals ever

2:57 PM GMT 25/10/2022
oliseh tshabalala gyan
GOAL’s Ed Dove ranks the greatest goals scored by African players at the World Cup

  • Bouba Diop France Senegal 2002 World Cup

    Papa Bouba Diop vs France

    One of several goals in this list to be scored in the tournament opener, Bouba Diop’s effort may not have been particularly beautiful—in fact, it was a scruffy finish as he touched home beyond Fabien Barthez and Emmanuel Petit—but it was certainly an iconic goal.

    His goal secured a 1-0 victory for debutants Senegal over reigning world champions France in the opening match of the 2002 tournament, as the Teranaga Lions pulled off arguably the greatest shock in the competition’s history.

    The goal was unforgettable, as was Diop’s subsequent dancing celebration.

  • Rene Higuita Kolumbien Roger Milla Kamerun WM 1990 06231990

    Roger Milla vs Colombia

    Overshadowed by Milla’s hip-shimmying celebration, of course, but the Cameroon veteran’s second goal against Romania at the 1990 tournament was a magnificent effort in its own right.

    The striker arced his run to meet Francois Omam-Biyik’s delightful lay-off header, rode Ioan And one’s despairing tackle, and struck high and emphatically into the roof of Silviu Lung’s net.

    It was Milla’s second in the space of 10 second-half minutes, and was enough to second the Lions’ place in the knockouts.

  • François Omam-Biyik Argentina Cameroon 1990 World Cup

    Francois Omam-Biyik vs Argentina

    Similarly historic and equally as earth-shattering, Oman-Biyik’s header for Cameroon against Argentina in the opening match of the 1990 World Cup gave the Indomitable Lions a 67th-minute lead and set them on their way to one of Africa’s finest hours on the global stage.

    While Cameroon, unlike Senegal, weren’t debutants, Argentina were the reigning world champions and—against Diego Maradona and co—this was a major giant killing.

    Unlike the scruffy Diop effort, the goal was class as well, as Omam-Biyik leapt above the beleaguered Albiceleste defence to head beyond Nery Pumpido and take maximum points.

  • Asamoah Gyan 2010 World Cup

    Asamoah Gyan vs USA

    Ghana’s memorable campaign at the 2010 World Cup—as they were the last African side left flying the flag for the continent—ended in quarter-final heartbreak against Uruguay, but it was a run full of unforgettable moments.

    The highlight was perhaps the extra-time winner against the United States in the Round of 16, as Gyan brought down a long ball forward, held off opposition attentions, and demonstrated awesome technique to slam home beyond Tim Howard.

    The 93rd-minute strike sent the Black Stars through to the quarters as they became only the third African side to reach the final eight in the tournament’s history.

  • Siphiwe Tshabalala represents Bafana Bafana

    Siphiwe Tshabalala vs Mexico

    Siphiwe Tshabalala’s wondergoal for South Africa against Mexico in the opening match of the 2010 World Cup deserves to be considered among Africa's best on the grandest stage.

    The strike—a powerful effort after a sharp South African counter down the left flank—was a magnificent opening strike for the tournament, and allayed fears that Bafana Bafana would be outclassed as tournament hosts.

    Tshabalala was named Man of the Match following an inspired display, with Peter Drury infamously lauding the ‘goal for all of Africa’ that truly launched the first edition on the continent.

  • Sunday Oliseh

    Sunday Oliseh vs Spain

    Arguably Nigeria’s finest World Cup moment—although Rashidi Yekini’s celebrations against Bulgaria push it close—was Oliseh’s rocket of a goal against Spain in 1998.

    It was a stunning effort from range as the Golden Generation truly made their mark against a European heavyweight, and also resulted in the Super Eagles progressing to the knockouts while La Roja were dumped out.

    It’s just a shame that the West African giants fell apart so spectacularly against Denmark in the knockouts.

  • Salif Diao of Senegal vs. Denmark

    Salif Diao vs Denmark

    He may have struggled to make his mark at Liverpool, but at the 2002 World Cup, Diao was at the top of his game, and scored one of the greatest goals of the tournament in the group stage against Denmark.

    Diao finished off a beautiful counter-attack with a sumptuous finish beyond Thomas Sorensen having run the length of the field after picking up the ball from El-Hadji Diouf and then laying it off to Kaliou Fadiga.

    The Danes had no way to stop Diao’s elegant run through the heart of the park as he received Fadiga’s return and finished calmly beyond the advancing Sorensen.