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Aboubakar delivers Cup of Nations for Cameroon

Cameroon’s forward Benjamin Moukandjo (L) and Cameroon’s defender Nicolas Nkoulou hold up the trophy after beating Egypt 2-1 to win the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations final football match between Egypt and Cameroon at the Stade de l’Amitie Sino-Gabonaise in Libreville on February 5, 2017. AFP PHOTO

Libreville, Gabon | AFP |

FT Cameroon 2 Egypt 1: Vincent Aboubakar came off the bench to score a stunning winner with two minutes left as Cameroon fought back from behind to beat Egypt 2-1 in a thrilling Africa Cup of Nations final on Sunday.

Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny had given Egypt the lead midway through the first half and Egypt looked to be on course to win an unrivalled eighth Cup of Nations crown in their first appearance at the tournament since 2010.

But Nicolas Nkoulou, who had come off the bench in the first half, headed in the equaliser just before the hour mark and fellow substitute Aboubakar slammed in the winner in the 88th minute.

That sparked bedlam in a near-capacity crowd of more than 38,000 in Gabon’s capital, made up in its majority by Cameroonian supporters.

It is a fifth Cup of Nations crown for the Indomitable Lions, a first since 2002, and the first time they have beaten Egypt in the final in three attempts.

Egypt fell just short on their return to the competition after a seven-year absence, and the defeat will be especially painful for their coach Hector Cuper.

The Argentine was desperate to win a trophy after a career tainted by rotten luck in finals at club level, including back-to-back defeats in the UEFA Champions League with Valencia at the start of the last decade.

Egypt have been derided at times for a defensive approach under Cuper, but they played their part in this rarest of things — a genuinely entertaining final.

The Pharaohs had signalled their intent within two minutes as a delightful cushioned pass by Mohamed Salah set up Abdallah El Said, but his firm shot was well held by Fabrice Ondoa in the Cameroon goal.

Egypt then opened the scoring midway through the first period with a superb team goal.

Amr Warda and Salah combined on the right and the latter played the ball into Elneny in space in the area, the midfielder taking a touch to control and another to steady himself before blasting high past Ondoa at his near post.

It was a brilliant finish from the midfielder who was returning to the side after missing his team’s last two games due to a calf injury.

 

– Super subs –

The odds were now very much against Cameroon.

The last Cup of Nations final to feature more than a single goal came in 2004, when Tunisia beat Morocco 2-1. The last time a side came from behind to win the trophy was in 1994, when Nigeria beat Zambia 2-1.

Hugo Broos’s side also lost centre-back Adolphe Teikeu to an apparent groin injury just after the half-hour mark, with Nkoulou taking his place.

The Lyon defender has been out of favour at this tournament, only starting in Cameroon’s final group game against Gabon. But thrown on here through necessity, it was he who pulled his side level in the 59th minute.

Egypt failed to fully clear their lines following a corner and captain Benjamin Moukandjo crossed from the left for Nkoulou, who soared above Ahmed Hegazy to head past Essam El Hadary from six yards.

Cameroon were revitalised by that goal, a partisan crowd lifted, but Jacques Zoua fired wastefully wide and Moukandjo blasted over from an excellent position as extra time began to seem inevitable.

Then Aboubakar, who had been introduced at the start of the second half in place of Robert Ndip Tambe, controlled a long ball forward with his chest on the edge of the area, poked it over the head of Ali Gabr and volleyed low past El Hadary in the Egyptian goal.

RELATES STORY: LIVE – How Cameroon rallied to beat Egypt

List of Africa Cup of Nations champions after Cameroon won the 2017 final in Gabon Sunday:

1957: Egypt

1959: Egypt

1962: Ethiopia

1963: Ghana

1965: Ghana

1968: Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo)

1970: Sudan

1972: Congo Brazzaville

1974: Zaire

1976: Morocco

1978: Ghana

1980: Nigeria

1982: Ghana

1984: Cameroon

1986: Egypt

1988: Cameroon

1990: Algeria

1992: Ivory Coast

1994: Nigeria

1996: South Africa

1998: Egypt

2000: Cameroon

2002: Cameroon

2004: Tunisia

2006: Egypt

2008: Egypt

2010: Egypt

2012: Zambia

2013: Nigeria

2015: Ivory Coast

2017: Cameroon

Titles

7: Egypt

5: Cameroon

4: Ghana

3: Nigeria

2: Ivory Coast, Zaire

1: Algeria, Congo Brazzaville, Ethiopia, Morocco, South Africa, Sudan, Tunisia, Zambia

 

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