JOHANNESBURG – Such was the enormity of Bafana Bafana’s victory over Egypt that the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations hosts wasted no time in firing their Mexican coach Javier Aguire and his entire technical team hours after their shock 1-0 Round of 16 defeat.
As if that was not enough, the Egyptian FA boss Hani Abdou Rida who had done the firing then quit the post he had occupied since 2016.
The defeat will rank as one of the most unexpected results in the biennial, showpiece - everything pointed to victory for an Egyptian side that enjoyed the backing of a full house (75 000) at the Cairo International Stadium.
Football though, is fickle at the top. Bafana’s shock win is one of many at the tournament and here we recall five other such unexpected results.
2019 Afcon Round of 16:
Benin 1, Morocco 0
The night before Bafana’s miracle in Cairo, tiny Benin had torn the form book to shreds by beating the Atlas Lions who - like Egypt - had progressed to the knockout stage with a perfect record. Not only had Benin been winless before this match - they made it as one of the four third beat placed teams via three draws - but they also finished the game with 10 men.
Add to that the fact that Morocco were coached by two-time Afcon winning coach Herve Renard andd the win for Benin was unthinkable. But they did it.
2015 Afcon Quarter-final:
Equatorial Guinea 2, Tunisia 1
Even though they were hosts, there was just no way minnows, Equatorial Guinea would beat mighty Tunisia, right? And it certainly looked that way when the Carthage Eagles scored first and typically defended the goal until late in the game. What seemed a hometown decision though brought Equatorial Guinea back into it when referee awarded a dubious injury-time penalty which Javier Balboa converted to force extra-time.
Dejected Tunisia then succumbed to a Balboa strike 12 minutes into extra-time and a nation that had been delighted with just being past the group stage celebrated wildly.
2013 Afcon Semi-final:
Burkina Faso 1 Ghana 1 (Burkina Faso won 3-2 on penalties)The Ghanaian Black Stars were huge favourites and when Mubarak Wakaso put them ahead from the penalty spot, it appeared they would stroll into the final. But a plucky Burkinabe side worked their way back into the contest thanks to a strike by Aristide Bance.
The Stalions even had what appeared a legitimate penalty turned down but they could not be denied in the shoot-out and won their way into the final where they lost to Nigeria.
2012 Afcon final
Zambia 0 Ivory Coast 0 Zambia won 8-7 on penalties
This one was written in the stars. For Zambians, Gabon was always a place of bad memories given that their national team perished there when their plane crashed on the coast of the east African country. In 2012, Chipolopolo went and changed the narrative with a victory so unexpected it was miraculous.
Zambia reaching the final in itself was a shock but to then beat an Ivory Coast side teaming with superstars, now that was a shock. There was an earlier shock in normal time when superstar Didier Drogba blasted a 69th minute penalty high up above Kennedy Mweene’s goal. And in the shoot-out itself Mweene pulled off one safe as Zambia triumphed.
1994 Afcon opening match:
Mali 2 Tunisia 0
This was not how it should be. Tunisia welcomed the continent to their tournament and on the opening day President Ben Ali sat proudly in the executive box of the Stade el Menzah awaiting his subjects to make him a proud leader.
But he was soon huffing and puffing his way out of the stadium at half-time, Ali not believing what he was witnessing. Mali outplayed the hosts so much they had raced into a 2-0 lead just after the half hour mark.@Tshiliboy