AFCON 2023: Ghana Looking to Join African Teams That Won The Title After Losing Opening Group Match

AFCON 2023: Ghana Looking to Join African Teams That Won The Title After Losing Opening Group Match

Joel Reyes
updated at January 15, 2024 at 1:33 PM
  • Ghana lost to Cape Verde in their opening group match at AFCON 2023
  • Only two teams have won the AFCON title after losing their group opener
  • Cameroon and Egypt accomplished that feat in 1984 and 1986, respectively

Ghana’s AFCON 2023 title hopes took a huge hit on Sunday after the Black Stars lost to Cape Verde in their group opener.

Garry Rodrigues broke Ghana's hearts, scoring a late goal in the 92nd minute to give Cape Verde a 2-1 win.

All is not lost, though, for Chris Hughton's men.

Ghana, AFCON, Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON 2023, Cameroon, Egypt, Cape Verde.
Majeed Ashimeru celebrates a goal for Ghana which was later disallowed in their game against Cape Verde; Ghana fans supported team at 2023 AFCON. Images: FRANCK FIFE.
Source: Getty Images

Sports Brief looks at the teams who won the Africa Cup of Nations title despite losing their opening match.

AFCON champs who lost their opening match

Cameroon (1984)

The road to the 1984 championship wasn’t easy for the Indomitable Lions. Cameroon started their AFCON campaign that year with a 1-0 loss to Egypt.

Taher Abouzaid broke Cameroon fans’ hearts, scoring the game’s lone goal in the 78th minute.

With Ivory Coast beating Togo 3-0 in the other match, Cameroon found themselves in the bottom of Group A heading into Matchday 2.

The odds were stacked against the Lions to advance, as no team had ever reached the knockout round of the Africa Cup of Nations after losing their first match.

Cameroon bounced back from that defeat, though, beating Togo 4-1 in their second group match.

Bonaventure Djonkep, Theophile Abega, and Ibrahim Aoudou each scored in the first half to give Cameroon a 3-0 lead at the break.

Abega doubled his tally in the 61st minute to seal the Indomitable Lions’ victory.

Egypt’s 2-1 win over Ivory Coast that same day meant that a victory by Cameroon on Matchday 3 would be enough for them to qualify for the knockout stage.

That they did, with Cameroon beating Ivory Coast 2-0 in their group finale. Roger Milla opened the scoring for the Lions in the 42nd minute before Djonkep sealed the victory with his 61st-minute strike.

Cameroon then beat Algeria 5-4 in a penalty shootout in the semi-finals after both sides failed to score in regulation and extra time.

That set the stage for the Indomitable Lions’ clash with Nigeria in the final.

Cameroon weren't going to be denied, defeating Nigeria 3-1 in the championship match to win their first-ever AFCON title.

They battled back from an early 1-0 deficit, with Rene N’Djeya, Abega, and Ernest Ebongue scoring the goals for Cameroon.

Egypt (1986)

Egypt became the second team to win an AFCON title after losing their opening group match, accomplishing that feat in 1986.

They started the tournament with a 1-0 loss to Senegal, with Thierno Youm scoring the match-winner in the 67th minute.

With Ivory Coast crushing Mozambique 3-0 in the other game, the Pharaohs found themselves in the bottom of Group A heading into Matchday 2.

Egypt bounced back from their opening loss, though, beating Ivory Coast 3-0 in their second group match.

Shawky Gharieb gave Egypt a 1-0 lead in the 73rd minute before Gamal Abdelhamid sealed the victory with a goal in the 83rd minute.

They secured a place in the knockout round with a 2-0 win over Mozambique in their final group match.

Abouzaid sealed their passage to the semis with a brace in the opening 15 minutes.

Egypt extended their winning run in the semis, with the Pharaohs recording a 1-0 win over Morocco.

Abouzaid once again starred for Egypt, scoring the game’s lone goal in the 79th minute.

They next faced Cameroon in the final, a match which ended in a penalty shootout.

Egypt defeated the defending champions 5-4 in the shootout, with Cameroon’s Andre Kana-Biyik missing the decisive spot kick.

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Ghana fans draw inspiration from Messi's Argentina

Sports Brief recently reported on Ghanaian fans not losing hope despite their side's shock defeat at the hands of Cape Verde.

They are drawing inspiration from Argentina's World Cup title run in 2022.

Lionel Messi and co. also lost their opening group match before winning the championship in Qatar.

Joel Reyes photo
Joel Reyes
Joel Reyes is a sports editor at with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of the Philippines. He has eight years of work experience in sports writing.