10 Stars Who Never Won the African Cup of Nations

Africa has produced some exceptionally gifted players who have never tasted glory in the continent’s most prestigious competition, the Africa Cup of Nations. Some of these are men who have won the biggest individual awards in various leagues worldwide. And, football being a team sport, some have been cursed with underachieving national teams. This has ensured that they finished their careers without ever lifting the Afcon trophy.

Some, like George Weah, Kalusha Bwalya, Mustapha Hadji and Anthony Yeboah, have retired from the game. Others, like Nwankwo Kanu, Frederic Kanoute and El Hadji Diouf, have called time on their international careers, while Didier Drogba and Michael Essien are in the twilight of their journeys with their national sides.

Zambian great Kalusha Bwalya was a nearly-man at the Afcon in 1994 when the Chipolopolo made a memorable push for the title a few months after losing most of their first team in a plane crash. Bwalya led the Zambians to the final of Tunisia 94, where they narrowly lost 2-1 to Nigeria.
Two years later, he led the Zambians to a third-place finish in South Africa, where he won the Golden Boot. The former winger, who was named African Player of the Year in 1988, played in five Afcon tournaments and was coach in 2006. 

Two-time African Player of the Year El Hadji Diouf ended his career without an Afcon title. The 'Serial Killer' played at four tournaments and came closest in 2002, when the Teranga Lions finished second to Cameroon in a penalty shootout.
Diouf’s career has been overshadowed by on- and off-field controversies as his best football years ebbed away, but an Afcon title would certainly have been the highlight of his international career.

Another twice named African Footballer of the Year, Drogba has not won the title in three appearances at the tournament. He came closest to winning in 2006 when his Ivory Coast side reached the finals but lost to hosts Egypt in a shootout, after regulation time ended goalless.
The Chelsea striker still has one more opportunity to win the competition, as he will lead his golden generation of Ivorian stars to the tournament in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea in January 2012.

Chelsea midfield strongman Michael Essien has been out injured for the better part of two years and has seen his place in the Black Stars filled by much younger players. However, during the height of his prowess, the 'Bison' failed to win the Afcon title, coming closest in 2010 as the Ghanaians took silver, losing to Egypt.
If his injuries continue, Essien could end his international career without a continental title. He has played in three Afcon tournaments.

Mustapha Hadji’s most memorable moment at the Afcon was his overhead kick to score against Egypt in their 1998 group-stage win. Hadji won that year’s African Player of the Year award on the back of his performance at the World Cup.
Two years later, Morocco crashed out of the tournament in the group stages and any dream Hadji had had of winning the coveted trophy went up in smoke, as the north African star could not cap his career off with an Afcon title.

The 2007 African Player of the Year came closest to winning the Afcon title in 2004 when Tunisia hosted the tournament. The Malians showed inspired form to reach the semi-finals, powered by four goals from Kanoute.
However, they were undone by Morocco in a 4-0 defeat, with Kanoute finishing as joint-top scorer. In 2008 and 2010, the Eagles failed to make it past the group phase, and so Kanoute retired from international football without an Afcon title.

The forward, twice African Player of the Year, participated in six tournaments and came closest to winning in 2000, when Nigeria finished second. He lost the final in a penalty shootout against Cameroon and soon after the Super Eagles became perennial bronze-medal winners.
His Afcon record is one silver and four bronze medals, but perhaps even more surprising is that lanky Kanu never scored a goal from open play in the competition.

Zimbabwean great Peter Ndlovu played at two Afcon tournaments but never went further than the group stages. He scored three goals for the Warriors at their maiden tournament in 2004.
He was also a part of the Zimbabwe side that stunned World Cup-bound Ghana 2-1 in their 2006 group. The former Coventry and Birmingham City striker is one of the biggest names from the southern part of Africa to have never won the competition.

The 1995 Fifa World Player of the Year, George Weah played at two Afcon tournaments with the Lone Stars in 1996 and 2002, but crashed out in the first round on both occasions. Weah scored a goal in the 2002 tournament during an opening 1-1 draw with hosts Mali.
Considering his individual brilliance and the awards he won during his career, Weah is one of the biggest African names to not have tasted victory in the competition.

The Ghanaian great, Anthony Yeboah missed out on the Afcon title in 1992 when the Black Stars lost the final in a drawn-out penalty shootout against the Elephants of the Ivory Coast.
The Eintracht Frankfurt and Leeds United legend played two more tournaments in an effort to be crowned an African champion, but the Black Stars could not reach the heights that they achieved in 1992 with the team that included Abedi Pele, Nii Odartey Lamptey and Anthony Baffoe.


Anonymous said...

Yea Drogba is Always Out Of Luck Always :)

Brawno604 said...

Weah, i rememeber him playing for Milan :)

Gentle Man said...

Its a really interesting article you have here. Following and staying tuned. Cheers

Tom Seahawk said...

very nice summary

Cross said...

I love your blog, living in the US severely limits the amount of football I see. Followed!

Zap McBlowfist said...

followed, love these old players great cheap buys on Footy manager

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