Sunday 05 February 2017, 21:36

Cameroon crowned African champions with comeback win

THE DAY REPLAYED — Cameroon won a fifth CAF Africa Cup of Nations title following their 2-1 come-from-behind win over Egypt in the Gabon 2017 Final in Libreville after second-half goals from substitutes Nicolas N'Koulou and Vincent Aboubakar.

The day’s result Final Egypt 1-2 Cameroon

The analysis Having suffered a minor calf injury and missing out on the Pharaohs’ knockout stage matches, Arsenal midfielder Mohamed El Neny returned in time for the final and in style as he opened the scoring in the 22nd minute in Libreville. After a neat exchange between Mohamed Salah on the edge of Cameroon’s penalty area, El Neny rifled in his shot at an acute angle, deceiving Cameroon’s 21-year-old goalkeeper Fabrice Ondoa, who would have thought El Neny had a cross in mind.

El Neny had his goalscoring boots on at just the right time as he had to remain patient since his last goal (for club or country) came 11 months ago, when he scored for the Gunners against Barcelona in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League last season.

Egypt head coach Hector Cuper emphasised solid defensive organisation throughout Gabon 2017. Cameroon was going up against a backline that had only conceded one goal all tournament, which made substitute Nicolas N’Koulou’s equaliser all the more unexpected. The Indomitable Lions’ star man Benjamin Moukandjo curled in a precise cross from the left wing that N’Koulou met with a towering header, springing above Egypt defender Ahmed Hegazi, to head past Essam El Hadary and bring Cameroon level.

N'Koulou's header gave the Indomitable Lions the belief they needed to bring the country its first continental trophy since 2002. In the 88th minute, substitute striker Aboubakar struck home the winner with an incredible piece of individual skill. The Besiktas forward brought down a long ball from Sebastien Siani with his chest and flicked the ball over Egyptian defender Ali Gabr before unleashing a pin-point finish past El Hadary.

Highlight of the day Aboubakar's winning goal for the Indomitable Lions will go down as one of the finest in Africa Cup of Nations Final's history. The striker's volley sent the Cameroon-heavy crowd into raptures as he completed Cameroon's comeback and punched their ticket to Russia 2017.

The stat 5 - With the win, Cameroon surpassed Ghana to become outright second in Africa Cup of Nations history with five titles.

Cameroon will represent Africa at the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017.