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Football: Goal scarcity blights Africa Cup finals

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Goals have been a scarce commodity at recent Africa Cup of Nations finals with only five in the past six title deciders.

And three of those came in Tunisia nine years ago when the hosts edged Morocco 2-1 in the only finale to feature two teams from the north of the continent.

Penalty shoot-outs were needed to give Cameroon victory over Senegal in 2002, Egypt success over Ivory Coast in 2006 and Zambia glory against Ivory Coast last year.

The 2008 and 2010 title matches were settled in favour of Egypt by solitary goals with Mohamed Abou Trika scoring against Cameroon in Accra and Mohamed 'Geddo' Nagy against Ghana in Luanda.

Neither game was easy on the eye as underdogs Cameroon and Ghana were not prepared to come at the rampant Pharaohs and erected defensive barricades that held firm until the closing stages.

A mistake by legendary Cameroon centre-back Rigobert Song enabled fellow veteran Abou Trika to break the deadlock 13 minutes from time and there were only five minutes left when Nagy struck.

The last final goal-fest was 13 years ago when Nigeria wiped out a two-goal deficit against Cameroon at a packed Surulere Stadium in Lagos only to fail on penalties.

Many long-time African football followers rate the 1984 final in Abidjan as the best with Cameroon scoring twice in the closing stages thorugh Theophile 'Doctor' Abega and Ernest Ebongue to triumph 3-1 against Nigeria.

Another candidate for best Cup of Nations final must be that of 1972 when Congo Brazzaville scored three times in seven minutes to overcome Mali 3-2 in Yaounde.

Mali took a late first half lead only to be rattled as Michel M'Bono struck twice and Francois M'Pele once to turn the game on its head and give the central African country their only Cup of Nations title.

The decider with the most goals saw hosts Ethiopia come back twice in regular time before extra-time goals from Menguistu Worku and Italo Vassalo brought a 4-2 tiumph over defending champions Egypt.

There have been 26 Africa Cup finals -- the 1959 and 1976 tournaments used mini-league rather than knock-out formats -- and they produced 60 goals at an average of 2.30 per match.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130209/football-goal-scarcity-blights-africa-cup-finals