Drogba, Kanu, Adebayo and Other African Greats Who Never Won AFCON

Drogba, Kanu, Adebayo and Other African Greats Who Never Won AFCON

Elijah Odetokun
updated at January 4, 2024 at 10:27 AM
In this article:
Didier Drogba logo
D. Drogba
-FIvory Coast logo
N. Kanu
-FNigeria logo
Michael Essien logo
M. Essien
Sabail logoMGhana logo
CAF Africa Cup of Nations logo
  • The 2023 African Cup of Nations is nine days away from kick off
  • Some footballers will have their final attempts at winning the event
  • Didier Drogba and other African greats never won the tournament

The 2023 African Cup of Nations is just around the corner as Africa’s biggest stars battle to win the biggest event on their continent for their respective countries.

Some African greats have laboured in vain and failed to win the event for their countries despite multiple appearances at the biannual tournament held in January.

Didier Drogba, Ivory Coast, FIFA World Cup, Brazil.
Didier Drogba walks off the pitch after his final World Cup game for Ivory Coast in 2014. Photo by Alex Livesey.
Source: Getty Images

Sports Brief looks at seven former stars who failed to win the tournament, including Chelsea legend Didier Drogba

African greats who never won AFCON

1. Didier Drogba

The two-time African Footballer of the Year failed to capture the silverware. He lost two finals in 2006 against Egypt and Zambia in 2012, missing decisive spot kicks in both. Ivory Coast won their first AFCON after his retirement. Per BR Football, he qualified the country for their first FIFA World Cup in 2006.

2. Emmanuel Adebayor

The 2008 African Best Player, Emmanuel Adebayor, never lifted the gold trophy. He played in four AFCON's but never won it, reaching the quarter-final in 2013. Per Guardian, he was part of the Togo national team that was attacked by gunmen in Angola in 2010, forcing their withdrawal from the event.

3. Nwankwo Kanu

The two-time CAF best and Nigeria’s most decorated footballer was deemed too young to make the triumphant team of 1994 despite his heroics at the 1993 U17 World Cup. He reached the final in 2000 but lost to Cameroon. He played in five semi-finals.

4. George Weah

The only African to win the Ballon d’Or, George Weah, did not have quite the career in international football. He never played at the World Cup but helped Liberia qualify for two AFCONs, bowing out in the group stage on both occasions in 1996 and 2002.

5. Michael Essien

The Chelsea legend is one of Ghana’s best exports but was never able to capture the ultimate silverware. He helped the Black Stars win a bronze medal on home soil in 2008 and lost the final to Egypt in 2010. He also never won the African best award.

6. Frederick Kanoute

The 2007 African Footballer of the Year winner, Frederick Kanoute, the first player born outside of Africa to win the award, has yet to win the AFCON with Mali. His best outing came in the 2004 edition, where he helped the country reach the semi-final with four goals.

7. Hadji Mustapha

The Moroccan legend who dazzled at the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France and was named the African Footballer of the Year never won the continent’s highest national honour. Per Goal, he was banned from all football-related activities for five years in 2022 for falsifying his coaching license.

8. Asamoah Gyan

The legendary Ghanaian footballer failed to capture the ultimate prize, falling short twice in the finals against Egypt in 2010 and Ivory Coast in 2015.

Other great footballers from the continent who never won AFCON include Quinton Fortune, Anthony Yeboah, Peter Ndlovu, Kalusha, Bwalya, and Bruce Grobbelaar.

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Players who never won CAF Best

Sports Brief previously reported on players who never won African Best despite having great careers in their club and international careers, including JJ. Okocha.

The Nigerian legend controversially lost the award to Hadji Mustapha in 1998 while placing 3rd in 2004 despite being AFCON’s top scorer and most valuable player.

Elijah Odetokun photo
Elijah Odetokun
Elijah Odetokun is Reuters-trained journalist with three years of experience having previously worked at Daily Times Nigeria, OmaSports and El Futbolero.