The Africa Cup of Nations will be held in Côte d’Ivoire from January 13 to February 11, 2024. Brandishing the trophy is the dream of African players such as Mohamed Salah and Victor Osimhen, who are chasing their first continental crown. Le Messager brings you 5 legends who have never won this competition.
Didier Drogba, two nightmarish failures
He won everything at club level with Chelsea. World star and Ivory Coast legend, Didier Drogba saw the Elephants win the AFCON just after his retirement. Cruel! Two events in his international career will haunt him forever. In 2006, on his first appearance at the competition, the former Ivorian striker missed his penalty in the final shoot-out against Egypt. In the end, he came away empty-handed as he watched the Pharaohs lift the trophy. A few years later, with more experience under his belt, Didier Drogba returned to the AFCON 2012 final with a golden opportunity to finally become African champion. Faced with the tournament’s surprise package, Zambia, he again missed a decisive penalty on the stroke of half-time, even though the score was goalless. At the end of the game, the Zambians won the final and prevented Didier Drogba from realizing his greatest dream with the national team.
Seydou Keïta, facing a glass ceiling
Talented midfielder Seydou Keïta is a Malian soccer legend. A European champion with FC Barcelona, the former Aigles player enjoyed one of Mali’s finest moments at the AFCON. Surrounded by great players such as Mahamadou Diarra, he never won a star in the continent’s greatest competition. Seydou Keïta has failed to reach the semi-finals on 4 occasions. In 2002 and 2004, he was beaten by Cameroon (3-0) and Morocco (4-0) respectively. The passage of time did nothing to change this, as Mali fell again to Côte d’Ivoire (1-0) in 2012 and Nigeria (4-1) in 2013. This ceiling will never be broken by the Malians.Seydou Keïta will retire from international football in 2015.
Georges Weah, orphaned by a selection worthy of his name
Georges Weah’s fingerprints are nowhere to be seen on the African Cup of Nations trophy. The only African to be awarded the Ballon d’Or in the history of soccer, “Mister Georges” has only played in two African Cup of Nations tournaments in his career. In 1996, Liberia finished 3rd in the group phase behind Gabon and Zaire. It was the same story in 2002. The former president of the Republic of Liberia scored just one goal in his AFCON career, and never won.
Nwankwo Kanu, so close to the goal
An elegant Nigerian striker, Nwankwo Kanu is a great legend of African soccer and of the Super Eagles.European champion with Ajax Amsterdam, the 1.97-meter tall player conquered the world by winning the 1996 Olympic gold medal with Nigeria, as well as the African Golden Ball award in the same year. After 87 caps and 13 goals, Nwankwo Kanu has never won the AFCON. His only opportunity to touch the trophy came in 2000, in the final against Cameroon with one of the best Nigerian teams in the competition. However, the Nigerian team lost out to the Indomitable Lions in a penalty shoot-out.
El Hadji Diouf, one final and that’s it
Twice African Ballon d’Or winner (2001 and 2002), El Hadji Diouf was the prodigy of Senegalese soccer in the early 2000s. Talented and a star of the Lions, Senegal shocked the world by reaching the quarter-finals of the 2002 World Cup in their first appearance. A few months before the campaign in South Korea, El Hadji Diouf was playing in the AFCON in neighboring Mali. For the first final in the Lions’ history, El Hadji Diouf was not the hero of the match, missing a penalty in the shoot-out.Cameroon would shatter the dream of El Hadji Diouf and this fine Senegalese generation.