Tue 01 February 2022 | 5:30

Greatest Comebacks in AFCON History

We will be talking about some of the greatest and most surprising comebacks ever occurred in Africa Cup of Nations.

The 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, the 33rd edition of the African competition is being hosted by Cameroon as we speak. The CAF Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), sometimes known as the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations and often just as the African Cup of Nations, is Africa's premier international men's association football championship.

It was first conducted in 1957 and is sanctioned by the Confederation of African Football (CAF). It has been organized every two years since 1968, with the odd-numbered years beginning in 2013. Algeria is the current champion, having won the 2019 tournament in Egypt for the second time.

Only Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia competed in the first event, which took place in 1957. South Africa was supposed to join but was disqualified due to the government's apartheid policy at the time. Since then, the tournament has grown significantly, necessitating the holding of a qualifying competition.

The number of teams competing in the final tournament increased to 16 in 1998 (16 teams were scheduled to compete in 1996, but Nigeria withdrew, reducing the field to 15, and the same thing happened with Togo's withdrawal in 2010), and the format remained unchanged until 2017, with the 16 teams divided into four groups of four teams each, with the top two teams from each group advancing to a "knock-out" stage. The Africa Cup of Nations was moved from January to June on July 20, 2017, and the number of teams was increased from 16 to 24.

Egypt has won the event seven times, making them the most successful nation in the competition's history. The

2021 Africa Cup of Nations

is taking place as we write this article on January 29th, 2022 and for that reason, we have decided to prepare a list of the 5 most memorable comebacks in AFCON.

Listing the Greatest Comebacks in AFCON History

Below you will find facts and information about the various games in AFCON which are considered to be some of

the greatest comebacks in history

, along with some data about the specific competition these matches were part of and a little about some of the teams that are less-known by the public.

Congo vs DR Congo (AFCON 2015)

The Congo derby is one of the most famous rivalries in African football, which added to the excitement of the 2015 AFCON quarter-final match and made one of the Greatest comebacks in AFCON history.


dominated the game and scored the game's first goal after a 0-0 first half. Ferebory Dore and Thievy Bifouma scored in the 55th and 62nd minutes, respectively, to give the Red Devils a comfortable lead.

But DRC's Dieumerci Mbokani equalized right away, followed by two more goals until Mbokani scored again to seal the 4-2 victory and advance the Leopards to the semifinals. This is definitely one of the

5 most memorable comebacks in AFCON.

The 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, also known as the Orange Africa Cup of Nations, Equatorial Guinea 2015 due to sponsorship, was the 30th edition of Africa's international men's football competition. It was held from January 17 to February 8, 2015, and was organized by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

The tournament was originally set to be held by


, but the country later requested a postponement due to the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa; as a result, Morocco was ruled out as a host country and Equatorial Guinea was chosen instead, hosting one of the Greatest comebacks in AFCON history.

Ivory Coast won the Africa Cup of Nations for the second time, defeating Ghana 9–8 in a penalty shootout after the final ended goalless after extra time. The Democratic Republic of Congo finished third, with hosts Equatorial Guinea fourth, and defending champions Nigeria failing to qualify.

The tournament qualification process consisted of four stages: three preliminary rounds and a final group stage. The top 21 teams received a bye to the group stage, while the next 26 teams competed in the second preliminary round, and the worst four teams competed in the first round.

The three preliminary rounds were essentially a series of playoffs, with the victors progressing to the next round.

The competition was attended by 51 countries (excluding initial hosts Morocco). It was South Sudan's competitive debut. Djibouti and Somalia refused to participate.

Morocco would have qualified as hosts by default; however, the CAF kicked them out of the tournament after they refused to host.

Equatorial Guinea was picked as the new host, and they automatically qualified for the tournament despite having competed in the qualifying and being disqualified for fielding an ineligible player.


, the defending champions, did not qualify for the tournament.

Malabo, Bata, Mongomo, and Ebebiyin, all in Equatorial Guinea, were chosen to host the event and witness one of the greatest comebacks in history.

The 2012 Africa Cup of Nations was also held in Malabo and Bata. Screening for Ebola was given to all spectators attending matches.

Nigeria vs Senegal (AFCON 2000)

Nigeria faced Senegal in the 2000 AFCON quarter-final on home soil, but the game got off to the worst possible start when Khalilou Fadiga fired


into an unprecedented lead just seven minutes into the game, the starting point for one of the

Greatest comebacks in AFCON history.

The fans were relieved after Senegal scored in the seventh minute and held off a barrage of home pressure until Aghahowa's dramatic intervention. Nigeria was stunned by the early goal, as they struggled to establish their rhythm in the first half and should have conceded a second.

Senegalese defender Assane N'diaye, on the other hand, let them off the hook by missing a golden opportunity. When Bruges striker Kalilou Fadiga punished poor marking with a spectacular angled shot, the National Stadium was deafeningly quiet. Henri Camara twice came near to doubling the visitors' lead on swift first-half counterattacks, with the Super Eagles' defense lacking mobility.

That blunder cost them dearly, as Julius Aghahowa came off the bench in the 85th minute to equalize and send the game to extra time. He then scored twice to give Nigeria the victory and set off a now-infamous pitch invasion, one of the interesting facts we included in our article, titled the Greatest comebacks in AFCON history.

Okocha was sent off in the last seconds for elbowing Mbaye Badji, but Nigeria, making its first appearance in the African Nations Cup since 1994, held on to book a semi-final clash with

South Africa


The African Cup of Nations, the continent's association football championship, was held for the 22nd time in 2000. Ghana and Nigeria co-hosted the event that took the place of Zimbabwe.

The field of sixteen teams was divided into four groups of four, the same as it was in 1998. Zimbabwe was set to host this edition, but it was ruled out by the CAF on February 8, 1999, in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, due to non-compliance with the criteria. The CAF announced that proposals for replacement hosts would be accepted until March 10, 1999.

Cameroon won the tournament, defeating Nigeria 4–3 on penalties in the final. They qualified as African representatives for the 2001 FIFA Confederations Cup as winners. The CAF ruled that Egypt, Ghana, Morocco, and Nigeria met with the host conditions. Egypt later withdrew. Ghana and Nigeria had created a combined bid.

On March 15, 1999, the CAF Executive Committee meeting in Cairo, Egypt, jointly granted Ghana and Nigeria the organization of the 2000 Africa Cup of Nations. Ghana, Morocco, and Nigeria were the three countries that voters could choose from.

The African Cup was being co-hosted for the first time by two countries and it saw one of the 5 most memorable comebacks in AFCON as of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations. This was Nigeria's second African Cup after 1980, and Ghana's third after 1963 and 1978.

Burkina Faso vs DR Congo (AFCON 1998)

The 1998 AFCON third-place playoff match between

Burkina Faso

and the Democratic Republic of Congo will go down in football history as one of the Greatest comebacks in AFCON history, owing to the events of the closing 15 minutes.

Burkina Faso took the lead early in Ouagadougou, with Alassane Ouedraogo's 6th-minute right-wing shot being the lone goal of an otherwise tough first half.

The second half, on the other hand, was anything but uneventful, with the hosts scoring two goals within four minutes of the restart to take a 3-0 lead that seemed comfortable at the moment.

So much so that DR Congo's replacement Lokenge Mungongo's goal in the 76th minute felt like a consolation, especially given Burkina Faso's three-goal lead was restored in the 86th minute when Ibrahima Talle made it 4-1.

To say the least, what happened next was extraordinary and one of the greatest comebacks in history. In the next three minutes, DR Congo scored three goals to draw the game at 4-4. Extra time was ineffective after such a dramatic finale to the 90, thus the game went to penalties.

DR Congo won the shootout 4-1, maybe as a result of the players in Burkina Faso still confused about what happened between the 86th and 90th minutes. What happened is considered to be one of

the Greatest comebacks in AFCON history.

The Congolese Association Football Federation administers the DR Congo national football team, which is designated by FIFA as Congo DR (previously known as Zaire, alternately known as Congo-Kinshasa). 

It represents the Democratic Republic of the Congo in men's international football. The Leopards is their nickname. The team is a member of FIFA and the African Football Confederation (CAF).

Under Ibenge's leadership, the Democratic Republic of Congo progressed dramatically and set a new standard for World Cup qualification for decades.

DR Congo was placed in a group with Libya, Tunisia, and Guinea for the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification. DR Congo put forth a strong showing, beating Libya and Guinea both at home and away, but missed out on a chance to qualify for the World Cup after losing 1–2 in Tunis to eventual World Cup qualifier Tunisia and drawing 2–2 at home to the same opponent.

 The Congo Democratic Republic has been rated as high as 28th in the FIFA World Rankings. They were the first team from Sub-Saharan Africa to qualify for the FIFA World Cup and won the Africa Cup of Nations twice as Zaire. 

The African Cup of Nations (ACN) was held in Burkina Faso for the 21st time in 1998. The ACN is Africa's national football tournament, overseen by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

The field of sixteen teams was divided into four groups of four, the same as it was in 1996.


won the ACN Championship for the fourth time, defeating South Africa 2–0 in the final.

Nigeria vs Cameroon (AFCON 2000)

The 2000 AFCON Final in Lagos, which featured


and co-hosts Nigeria, is one of the best in recent memory and one of the Greatest comebacks in AFCON history indeed.

The Super Eagles possessed a phenomenally gifted bunch of players and were playing at home, giving them an advantage over an equally stacked Indomitable Lions.

The potent pairing of Samuel Eto'o and Patrick Mboma had been hyped up before the game, and it was quickly proven true as both players teamed up to score and put Cameroon up 2-0 after 31 minutes.

Raphael Chukwu, whose starting berth had been highly criticized, slotted home from inside the box on the stroke of halftime against the run of play.

Jay Jay Okocha produced one of the all-time great AFCON final goals just as the Lagos audience began to relax back into their seats for the second half: a magnificent half-volley from outside the box from the Nigerian wizard leveled the game at 2-2.

Nigeria would go on to miss numerous chances before losing the final in a stunning penalty shootout. This match was in our opinion one of the Greatest comebacks in AFCON history.

The Cameroon national football team is administered by the Federation Camerounaise de Football and represents Cameroon in men's international football.

The team has qualified for the FIFA World Cup seven times, which is more than any other African team (in 1982, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2010, and 2014). The team, on the other hand, has only made it out of the group stage once.

In 1990, they were the first African side to reach the FIFA World Cup quarter-finals, losing to


in extra time. They've also won five Africa Cup of Nations titles, as well as an Olympic gold medal in 2000. Cameroon is represented by the team in both FIFA and the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

In men's international football, the Nigeria national football team represents the country. They are three-time Africa Cup of Nations champions, with the most recent title coming in 2013. They are governed by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

Nigeria's national football team was rated 5th in the FIFA rankings in April 1994, the highest FIFA ranking ever achieved by an African team. The team has qualified for six of the last seven FIFA World Cups (as of 2018), missing just the 2006 edition and three times reaching the round of 16 stage. The 1994 World Cup was their debut appearance.

Angola vs Mali (AFCON 2010)

When it comes to tournament openers, it doesn't get much better than the show put on by Angola and


at Luanda's Estadio 11 de Novembro, one of the Greatest comebacks in AFCON history.

The home audience pumped up the Angolan players, who raced to a 2-0 lead at halftime due to a brace from Flavio. After 74 minutes, two second-half penalties by Gilberto and Manucho made it 4-0, so this was certainly a done deal, an easy home win, right?

Mali, on the other hand, had different plans. they scored four times in the final 15 minutes, including a 94th-minute equalizer to create one of the

Greatest comebacks in AFCON history.

The Angola national football team is governed by the Angolan Football Federation and represents Angola in men's international football. The squad's nickname is Palancas Negras, and the team's debut appearance was in the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

The team is the governing body of football in Angola, representing both FIFA and the Confederation of African Football (CAF). Angola's highest FIFA ranking, 45th, was achieved in July 2000. Their most notable achievement was qualifying for the 2006 World Cup, which was their first appearance in the finals.

The Malian Football Federation governs the Mali national football team, which competes in men's international football. Les Aigles is the team's nickname. They represent both FIFA and the African Football Confederation (CAF).

Mali is a prominent youth football power in Africa and the world, although they have never qualified for a senior FIFA World Cup final. However, they could yet qualify for the FIFA World Cup in 2022. On 12 occasions, they have qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Mali was sanctioned by FIFA on March 17, 2017, for 'government interference' in the national football association, which included the dissolution of its executive committee.

The side was re-instated by FIFA on April 29 after the Malian government re-introduced the executive committee.

The 2010 Africa Cup of Nations was the 27th edition of Africa's biennial football championship, also known as the Orange Africa Cup of Nations due to sponsorship reasons. It began on the 10th of January 2010 and ended on the 31st of January 2010. It was held in Angola.

The hosts, Angola, were to be joined in the tournament by 15 nations that had gone through the qualification procedure, which began in October 2007 and comprised 53 African national teams.

Togo withdrew from the competition after a terrorist attack on their bus as they arrived for the event, bringing the total number of teams to 15. 

Egypt won the tournament for the seventh time, and for the third time in succession, after defeating Ghana 1–0 in the final.

The Confederation of African Football confirmed that the qualification for this event will be the same as for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Despite hosting the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations, Angola was required to compete in the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification process.

South Africa was in a similar scenario. Despite the fact that they would be hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup, they still needed to compete in the Africa Cup of Nations qualification tournament.

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source: SportMob

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