This year’s Nations Cup saw the return of the continents two heavyweight nations, Cameroon and the Pharaohs trade punches in one of the best finals in memory.
The previous six finals returned just three goals, so it was a welcome surprise that Gabon 2017 produced three goals inside 90 minutes.
Having dominated Cameroon in the only other two finals (in 1986 and 2008) the two nations met, Egypt seemed to be on course again, when Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny finished off a fine move that the Gunners would be proud of. The quality 22nd minute series of exchanges started in their own half and included eleven passes before Elneny worked his way inside the box down the right, before beating Fabrice Ondoa high at his near post.
Just before the hour mark, the equalizer came from a Cameroon corner which was played initially to Benjamin Moukandjo. The captain then dipped a cross high into the six-yard line for Nicolas Nkoulou to power a header through.
The momentum was with Cameroon as Egypt were on the ropes waiting for the bell to save them, but just two minutes before the end, Vincent Aboubaker latched onto a Sebastien Siani pass. He flicked it over the defense before volleying past Essam El Hadary in style. A worthy goal to win a final!
The Pharaohs admitted that Burkina Faso’s athleticism troubled them in the semi-finals when they held out for a penalty shootout win, and this time Cameroon’s physical power made the difference.
The country’s fifth Afcon title is a tremendous achievement for Cameroon coach Hugo Broos, mainly because seven players, including Liverpool’s Joel Matip, rejected call-ups for the Afcon.
Not many fancied them to lift the Cup, especially after a 1-1 draw against Burkina Faso (eventual semi-finalists) in their opener. They beat Guinea Bissau 2-1 to get their campaign underway, but were afraid to turn on the style with a cautious 0-0 draw against hosts Gabon.
Despite a depleted backline due to withdrawals, their stubborn defense kept out a potent Senegal attack in the quarter-final, eventually winning in the penalty shoot-out thanks to Sadio Mane’s miss.
It’s been a remarkable run, dumping out one favourite after another. Next up was the Black Stars of Ghana, who Cameroon surprised 2-0 in the semi-finals.
Here's how football legends from across Africa reacted to Cameroon's night of glory.
Congratulations Cameroon .AFCON2017 champion #AFCON2017 Cameroon— Kanu Nwankwo (@papilokanu) February 5, 2017