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AFCON- Africa Cup of Nations

Top six biggest controversies in AFCON history

Published at :January 15, 2024 at 5:48 PM
Modified at :January 15, 2024 at 5:48 PM
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Some of the greatest controversies in the history of the competition

The Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) has consistently delivered thrilling football action, but its history is also marked by controversies that have left a lasting impact on the tournament. As AFCON 2023 approaches, fans eagerly anticipate the drama that comes with the pursuit of continental glory. From captaincy disputes to questionable draws and unforgettable referee blunders, this article delves into the top 6 controversies that have shaped the narrative of AFCON over the years.

6. Ghana’s 1992 captaincy fight

The 1992 AFCON final witnessed a dramatic showdown between Ghana and Ivory Coast, with the Black Stars vying for their fifth title. Suspended captain Abedi Ayew’s absence led to a contentious captaincy decision. Tony Yeboah, expected to lead, accused Accra of favouritism, contributing to an atmosphere of discontent. The final, decided by a marathon penalty shootout, ended in Ivory Coast’s favour, with the poetic twist of Anthony Baffoe missing the decisive penalty.

5. A conspiratorial draw 

In 1984, a conspiratorial draw between Algeria and Nigeria’s arch-rivals came to light when Algerian midfielder Mohammed Shoaib confessed to a deal aimed at eliminating Ghana from the competition. Shoaib’s revelation, published by GhanaSoccerNet, exposed a dark episode in AFCON’s history where teams conspired to alter the course of the tournament.

4. The 2000 final penalty shootout 

The first AFCON final of the new millennium saw Cameroon and Nigeria face off in a thrilling encounter. The penalty shootout, however, left a bitter taste for Super Eagles fans as a crucial moment involving Victor Ikpeba’s penalty went unnoticed. The controversial decision awarded Cameroon another AFCON title, sparking debates about the fairness of officiating.

3. Overage Cameroonian 

The spectre of age fraud loomed over Cameroon as they introduced an allegedly teenage player in the 2021 AFCON. The controversy stirred debate on the continent, especially after Cameroon dropped 32 players from a youth tournament due to age discrepancies. The questionable inclusion of Wilfried Douala raised eyebrows, challenging the integrity of the competition and highlighting the persistent issue of age manipulation.

2. Nigeria’s mid-nineties boycott and ban 

Nigeria‘s decision to boycott the 1996 AFCON had repercussions beyond football, reflecting political complexities. The absence of the defending champions allowed hosts South Africa to claim victory, while Nigeria faced a ban in the subsequent tournament. The fallout extended into the following edition, where Nigeria’s return marked a significant moment as they overcame the odds to secure their place in AFCON history.

1. Mali vs Tunisia referee incident in AFCON 2021 

The 2021 AFCON witnessed one of the most bizarre refereeing performances in history. Janny Sikazwe’s double full-time whistle, questionable penalties, and a red card created chaos. The explanation raised eyebrows by attributing the 85th-minute whistle to a forgotten watch stoppage during a water break. Mali and Tunisia were affected, with Mali ultimately prevailing in the group stage but facing elimination in the Round of 16. Sikazwe’s continued role as a professional referee raised questions about officiating standards in African football.

As AFCON 2023 approaches, the tournament’s rich history of controversies adds more anticipation. From captaincy disputes to match-fixing allegations and refereeing blunders, these controversies have etched themselves into the fabric of AFCON’s narrative. As fans gear up for the latest edition, the enduring legacy of these incidents serves as a reminder that, beyond the glory on the field, AFCON’s history is woven with threads of scandal and intrigue.

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