7 of the Most Exciting Moments in African World Cup History
From South Africa's opening goal to Cameroon's run in 1990.
No African nation has made it past the quarterfinals of the World Cup… yet.
African teams have however been part of the most spirited and exciting World Cup events and narratives. These moments will be remembered for years to come. Moments such as;
Cameroon's run to the quarter-finals in Italy, 1990.
Cameroon's 1990 tournament is memorably linked to Roger Milla. At 38, The oldest man in the tournament peppered the game with his age-defying exploits and his corner-flag celebration routine. Millas's hip-shimmying celebration is remembered fondly because it shows a boundless and pure joy for the love of the sport.
The Cameroonians opened the World Cup with a daunting matchup with the World Cup champions, Argentina, led by Diego Maradona. The only goal in the opening game came in the 67th minute when Francois Omam-Biyik's downward header went straight into net. In one of the greatest shocks in the tournament's history, The Indomitable Lions stunned the world and secured a 1-0 victory against Argentina setting the stage for an exciting campaign.
Against Romania, Roger Milla scored twice in a 2-1 win and though they lost 4-0 in the final preliminary game against the Soviets, they still advanced as group winners.
They faced Colombia next and after a scoreless ninety minutes, Milla again proved the difference in extra time. The 38-year-old scored a magnificent two goals resulting in a 2-1 win for Cameroon.
In the quarter-final, the Indomitable Lions encountered England, who quickly took the lead. A penalty kick from Emmanuel Kundé equalised the game and a stunning goal from Eugène Ekéké put Cameroon ahead. Cameroon then conceded two penalties, which England's Gary Lineker converted converted to send England through to the semi-finals.
Cameroons journey to the quarter finals, ensured that from then on, African teams were looked upon as genuine threats.
South Africa's opening goal in South Africa, 2010.
Hosts South Africa kicked off the first world cup game on African soil with a match against Mexico. At the 55th minute, a glorious thunderbolt long-range strike by Siphiwe Tshabalala whizzed past Mexican goalie Oscar Perez and sent the home fans into uproar as the World Cup burst into life. Africa's World Cup was up and running! The invigorating feeling swept across the entire continent. Even when Rafael Marquez gave Mexico an equaliser 11 minutes from time, the excitement for an electric tournament to come was sparked.
Tunisia, Africa's first match win in Argentina, 1978.
In 1978, Tunisia became the first African country to win a match at a World Cup tournament.
The first half of the game was tough for the Tunisians and at the end of the first half, Mexico were in the lead 1-0. At half time, Tunisia were transformed by a moving pep talk from coach Abdelmajid Chetali.
Tunisia rallied and came into the second half more aggressive, ten minutes into the second half Ali Kaabi equalised for the North Africans. Nejib Ghommidh scored a second in the 80th minute and Three minutes later, Mokhtar Dhioub scored the third goal.
They may not have escaped the pool, but the North Africans secured a historic victory for Africa with that win.
Ghana vs. Uruguay in South Africa, 2010.
At the thrilling quarter final between Ghana and Uruguay, a villain was born. Ghana was the only African country to have made it past the group stage and into the quarter finals. The Black Stars were holding the entire continent's fate in their hands. After an impressive and exciting game, the match went into extra time with the teams tied 1-1.
In the final minute of extra time, Ghana's Dominic Adiyiah's goal-bound header looked certain to win the match but Luis Suarez blocked the ball with his hand resulting in a red card for Suarez and a penalty conceded to Ghana. A supercharged tension fell over the stadium as Asamoah Gyan set up for the penalty. When Gyan's powerful kick hit the crossbar, an honest heart break was felt throughout the continent as Suarez celebrated in the side-lines.
The still tied game is forced into a penalty shootout which results in Uruguay winning the game and making it to the semi finals to face Holland. Ghana's agonizing despair was shared by the entire continent and Luis Suarez became the biggest villain of the game.
Algeria's win over West Germany in Spain, 1982.
Algeria beat West-Germany, the European champions, with a shocking 2-1 victory in their first-ever World Cup appearance at the 1982 tournament.
In the 53rd minute a beautiful chip from Lakhdar Belloumi, the African footballer of the year, let in Rabah Madjer to score the opening goal sending the Algerian supporters in the stadium dancing with joy.
Karl Heinz Rummenigge the European footballer of the year, scored the equaliser in the 67th minute and a minute later Lakhdar Belloumi, scored the famous winning goal.
The West Germans were in shock. The victory was a great embarrassment to Jupp Derwall, the West German coach, who promised that if his team did not beat Algeria "he would catch the first train home." Unfortunately, Algeria were then sabotaged by one of the World Cup's most blatant cases of match-fixing.
Algeria were eliminated in the first round following collusion between Austria and West Germany. The two European neighbours, knowing that a German victory by one or two goals would see both sides through, played for that specific result. Austria and West Germany both reached the next round at the expense of the Africans.
The controversy surrounding that incident led FIFA to ensure that final group games would kick off simultaneously at future tournaments.
Senegal beats France in South Korea, 2002.
Senegal were placed in one of the more difficult groups of the competition which included Denmark, and two previous world cup winners France and Uruguay.
The Cup's opening match saw them play 1998 world cup champions France. The French team had Thierry Henry, David Trezeguet, Patrick Vieira, and essentially most of the same players who won the 1998 FIFA World Cup and the 2000 UEFA Championship.
Again, little respect was given to the African side. During the match, the French defense found it could not handle the pace and strength of Senegal's attack. A midfield turnover provided Senegal the opportunity it needed when El Hadji Diouf's ensuing cross was driven home by Papa Bouba Diop, stunning France into silence.
Like Cameroon taking down Argentina 12 years before, Senegal had dethroned the champions, the World Cup kicked off with an African team beating one of the world's best teams... again.
After two draws against Denmark and Uruguay, Senegal qualified for the round 16. They defeated Sweden in extra time when Henri Camara scored a golden goal to send the African team to the quarter finals.
Nigeria crushes Bulgaria in USA, 1994.
Nigeria's unforgettable debut in the tournament had them face Bulgaria who would go on to make it to the semi-finals.
The Super Eagles side containing, Finidi George, Rashidi Yekini and Daniel Amokachi smashed the Eastern Europeans 3-0 in a match that was one of Africa's finest single performances at the World Cup.
In a sweeping 21st minute move, Yekini converted a pass from George Finidi. When he scored he kept running until he reached the rear of the net. Yekini shook the netting maniacally with both hands, his eyes wired shut as he screamed with delight.
Daniel Amokachi scored Nigeria's second goal just before halftime on the 44th minute. Emmanuel Amunike put the match to bed with the last goal, sealing a 3-0 victory for the Super Eagles.