LIBREVILLE, Gabon – Cameroon rallied from 1-0 down and won the African Cup of Nations title with a sublime 89th-minute winner from substitute Vincent Aboubakar to beat Egypt 2-1 in the final on Sunday.
Aboubakar controlled the ball just outside the area in the dying minutes, clipped it over a defender, and then shot past Egypt’s goalkeeper to clinch Cameroon’s fifth African title with a brilliant finish.
Aboubakar ran all the way to the VIP enclosure to celebrate as his teammates chased him. One of Cameroon’s coaching staff members rushed out to try and hug Aboubakar and was shoved out the way as the big striker made his way over to the stands.
Aboubakar delivered Cameroon’s first African Cup crown since 2002 and denied Egypt, which led early in the first half in Libreville, Gabon, an eighth title.
Mohamed el-Neny scored for Egypt in the 22nd but another Cameroon substitute, defender Nicolas Nkoulou, equalized in the 60th.
Aboubakar’s winner took a Cameroon team that was not rated at the start of the African championship and was missing many of its big-name players to a fabulous triumph.
Cameroon surprised the big title contenders all through the knockout stages, beating Senegal in the quarterfinals and Ghana in the semifinals.
It appeared at Stade de l’Amitie that it wouldn’t go the young Cameroon team’s way, though.
Egypt was far more accurate in the first half, with el-Neny’s slick finish at the near post putting the Egyptians ahead early. Cameroon’s best efforts of that first half sailed high and wide of the goal.
But the two substitutes, one planned and one unplanned, saved the day.
Defender Nkoulou, on for an injured teammate in the first half, powered a header in to equalize. He lay on the ground celebrating and his teammates piled on top of him.
Then, as the game appeared set for extra time, Aboubakar collected possession, looked up, and decided to do it all by himself.
Egypt’s 44-year-old goalkeeper Essam el-Hadary saw Aboubakar’s tournament-winning shot slip past him, denying el-Hadary an incredible fifth title with Egypt nearly 20 years after his first.
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