7 of the greatest goals in AFCON history
Goals are the ultimate currency in football. For all of the importance of subtle tactical nuances, goals turn one point into three, goals win big matches, goals get fans off their seats and goals are what tournaments are ultimately remembered for long after the medal ceremonies.
African football is often noted for its ability to take our breath away with dazzling moments of individual skill and this compilation is no exception. In no particular order, we look at everything from the barnstorming long-range screamer to the match-winning goal from an unlikely hero.
The Set Piece Stunner
Equatorial Guinea winger Javier Balboa netted a highly controversial penalty in the third minute of injury time to take his team’s 2015 AFCON quarter-final against Tunisia the distance. The knockout blow for Tunisia came when Balboa majestically curled a free-kick into the top corner from 25 yards (skip to the 2 minute mark.)
The Dipping Volley
Mandla Masango showed great technique, balance, dexterity and athleticism when he hit this clinical volley against Ghana. Note that the ball was fractionally behind him at the time of striking it.
The Unlikely Match winner
When The Ivory Coast and Ghana couldn’t be separated after 120 minutes of action, penalties would ultimately settle the AFCON 2015 final. The pair of African giants were still locked together at 8 goals apiece after every outfielder had taken his spot kick in the decisive shootout, so it was up to the goalkeepers to find a winner. In a double act of heroism, Boubacar Barry saved his opposite number’s effort and then stepped up to calmly curl the ball beyond Razak and win Africa’s biggest football prize for his country.
The Team goal
All of Barcelona’s best tiki-taka traditions were on show when Thuso Phala scored this beauty for Bafana Bafana against Algeria. His final touch and simple finish rounded off what was a stylish move involving great teamwork and selflessness.
The Long-Range Screamer
Arguably one of the finest individual pieces of brilliance in AFCON history, Ghanaian midfielder Christian Atsu smashed a curling shot from distance, leaving Guinean ‘keeper Yattara stranded and helpless to stop it.
No compilation of quality goals from African players would be complete without a contribution from the legendary Yaya Touré. In typical Yaya style, the big man lashed one home from just outside the box and replays suggest that the ball was still rising when it hit the back of the net. This scorcher helped Touré and the Ivory Coast into 2015’s final, which they would go on and win.
The Big Goal in a Big Game
As the old adage goes, “cometh the moment, cometh the man” and that moment brought the best out of Nigeria’s Sunday Mba in the 2013 AFCON final. When chaos reigned in Burkina Faso’s defensive third, Mba kept his cool, dinked a loose ball over his nearest marker and then slotted coolly inside the far post with an improbably clinical left-foot volley.