If teams with form were supposed to win tournaments, then Senegal or Burkina Faso should have won the just ended Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon. In all fairness and honesty, this is one of the poorest AFCONS I have watched in terms of quality of play as well as the pitches. In the end, the luckiest side won the gong. Yes, Cameroon won because they were luckier than any other team at the tourney and not because they were better.
To be straight on issues, take a few steps back and assess the performance of both Cameroon and Egypt on their way to the finals and you will smell the element of luck both teams had.
First with Cameroon; they drew 1-1 with Burkina Faso in their opening game, won 2-1 against a lowly ranked Guinea-Bissau side and drew 0-0 with host nation Gabon in a game many thought Gabon were better but for the antics of Fabrice Ondoa. So Cameroon came out of the group stage with through the skin of their teeth.
Then the luck of the tournament started to show its head to the Indomitable Lions when they met tournament favourites Senegal. Senegal were the top favourites not only ahead of the quarter finals but even before the tournament started. The Teranga Lions had cruised to the quarter finals in a dominant manner lashing Tunisia and Zimbabwe by 2-0 each and drawing with Algeria 2-2.
But Cameroon were the luckier side, beating the Senegalese on penalties, another game many felt football was unfair to the Teranga Lions.
Then against the Black Stars of Ghana, mother luck again smiled on the Indomitable Lions who won 2-0. It will be difficult to understand but watch the first goal of Cameroon against Ghana and you will understand that they were sure lucky. So Cameroon were lucky against Senegal, lucky against Ghana and need the last stroke of luck ton win the tournament and they had it against Egypt.
If you want to know the tournament was dominated by luck, go through the journey of Egypt too and you will surely appreciate when luck works.
The Pharaohs started the tournament against Mali, a game they should have lost if the Eagles had taken their chances. Then they played Uganda and run away with a solitary win in the from Abdellah El Said’s strike in the 89th minute. Obviously, Egypt were lucky in that game as the ball went through the legs of the reigning best goalkeeper on the continent, Denis Onyango.
In their last group game, the Pharaohs played a Black Stars side that had already qualified so you could expect the game not to be too competitive. Egyp won with a lone goal again.
Then the real deal started; Egypt played Morocco in the quarter finals of the competition in a game they were outplayed by Herve Renard’s men but the Pharaohs won eventually. Again, the Pharaohs won with three minutes to full time, another lucky moment after their first luck against Uganda.
Then, against the Stallions of Burkina Faso, we all saw how luck could be exploited. Egypt were totally outplayed, they were beaten by the strength and dominance of the Stallions and had nothing to do but to beg the game to into penalties. And they had their third luck.
From that game against Burkina Faso, I knew Cameroon had won the AFCON. Yes, I remembered that adage that you can’t be fourth time lucky.
Egypt won the AFCON on all the three previous occasions they appeared in the finals; 2006, 2008 and 2010 before missing out in 2012, 2013 and 2015. So there was no way they were going to be third time lucky. Again in the tournament, they had been lucky on three occasions already; against Uganda, Morocco and Burkina Faso. So on that score too, they wouldn’t be fourth time lucky.
The trophy was then for Cameroon from all indications. Cameroon had been lucky on only two occasions on their way to the final; against Senegal and Ghana. So they were the winners in advance.
The element of luck can’t be written off in the game of football, it is deeply needed to succeed.
Irish entertainer Terry Wogan once said “There's more to life than passing exams, and paper qualifications can only take you so far. A lot depends on luck, and on being in the right place at the right time, which was certainly true in my case,” and was also the case in Cameroon’s AFCON success.
By: Sheikh Tophic Sienu @desheikh1 on twitter