The African Cup of Nations, also known as AFCON or CAN, is the main international men’s football competition in Africa. It is sanctioned by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and was first held in 1957. Cameroon is one of the most successful national teams in AFCON history, having won the tournament 5 times. In this article, we will take a closer look at Cameroon’s record and victories in the African Cup of Nations tournament.
Cameroon’s Record at the African Cup of Nations
Cameroon has participated in 20 editions of the AFCON tournament and has an impressive overall record:
- Appearances: 20 (1968, 1970, 1972, 1976, 1978, 1980, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2008, 2010, 2017)
- Best Result: Champions (1984, 1988, 2000, 2002, 2017)
- Second Place: 2 (1986, 2008)
- Third Place: 1 (1972)
- Fourth Place: 1 (1992)
As these statistics show, Cameroon has been one of the strongest teams in the history of the competition. They have reached at least the semi-finals 13 times and have finished in the top four positions in over half of the tournaments they have participated in.
Cameroon’s five AFCON titles is the second-highest total behind Egypt, who have won the tournament a record seven times. Cameroon is tied with Ghana for second place.
When Did Cameroon Win Their African Cup of Nations Titles?
Here is an overview of the years Cameroon emerged victorious at the AFCON tournament:
1984 – Third AFCON Title
Cameroon won their third African Cup of Nations title in 1984, which was hosted in Côte d’Ivoire. This edition was expanded to 8 teams from the previous years’ six.
Cameroon were placed in Group A alongside Egypt and Togo. They defeated Togo 3-2 in their opening match, before earning a 1-1 draw with Egypt. Their group stage record of 1 win and 1 draw was enough to advance to the semi-finals.
In the semi-finals, Cameroon faced Algeria and won 2-0 to qualify for the final. The final was against Nigeria and Cameroon won 3-1 with goals from Kunde, Mbouh, and Ebongue. The man of the match was kunde, who scored 8 goals in the whole tournament. This was Cameroon’s third AFCON trophy.
1988 – Fourth AFCON Title
Four years later, Cameroon were crowned champions again when they hosted the 1988 tournament.
Cameroon breezed through the group stage with wins over Egypt (1-0), Kenya (3-0), and Nigeria (1-0). Their defense was sturdy throughout, not conceding a single goal.
They faced Morocco in the semi-finals and achieved a hard-fought 1-0 victory with a goal from Roger Milla. In the final against Nigeria, Milla was the hero again, scoring the only goal in the 1-0 win. Cameroon became champions for the fourth time.
2000 – Fifth AFCON Title
After exiting in the quarter-finals in 1996 and not qualifying for the 1998 tournament, Cameroon regained their winning pedigree in 2000.
With legendary goalkeeper Thomas N’Kono now managing the side, Cameroon finished top of Group D with wins over Ivory Coast (3-0), Togo (3-2), and DR Congo (0-0). They advanced to face Algeria and won 2-1 after extra time in the quarter-finals.
In the semi-finals, Cameroon were held 1-1 by South Africa but prevailed 5-3 on penalties. The final against Nigeria was a tense affair. But in the end, Cameroon emerged victorious again on penalties 3-2 after a 2-2 draw, with Geremi scoring the decisive spot-kick.
2002 – Sixth AFCON Title
Cameroon retained their AFCON title in 2002, making them only the third nation after Ghana and Egypt to successfully defend the trophy.
Cameroon topped their group, beating DR Congo (1-0), Togo (0-0), and Ivory Coast (3-0). They faced Egypt in the quarter-finals and earned a 1-0 victory through a goal from Lauren.
In the semi-finals against Mali, Cameroon again won 1-0 thanks to Patrick M’Boma’s strike. The final was a rematch against Senegal. After a 0-0 stalemate, Cameroon prevailed on penalties 3-2 to be crowned champions for the sixth time.
2017 – Seventh AFCON Title
After exiting in the group stage in 2015, Cameroon were back to reclaim their spot at the pinnacle of African football in the 2017 edition hosted by Gabon.
Cameroon took second place in Group A behind Burkina Faso. They earned narrow wins over Guinea-Bissau (2-1) and Gabon (2-1), while drawing 1-1 with Burkina Faso.
Their quarter-final match against Senegal went to penalties after a 0-0 draw. Cameroon held their nerves to win 5-4 in the shootout. Next up in the semi-finals were Ghana, and Cameroon once again triumphed 2-0.
The final saw them face seven-time champions Egypt. Cameroon emerged 2-1 winners thanks to goals from Nicolas Nkoulou and Vincent Aboubakar. Aboubakar also finished as top scorer with five goals.
Cameroon’s African Cup of Nations Victories by Year
|Year||Host Nation||Result in Final||Opponent in Final|
|1984||Ivory Coast||Won 3-1||Nigeria|
|2000||Ghana & Nigeria||Won 3-2 on penalties||Nigeria|
|2002||Mali||Won 3-2 on penalties||Senegal|
This summarizes when Cameroon won each of their record 5 African Cup of Nations titles. Nigeria has been Cameroon’s opponent the most times in the final.
Notable Players for Cameroon
Cameroon has produced some of Africa’s greatest ever footballers who were instrumental in leading the national team to AFCON glory through the years:
Roger Milla is Cameroon’s all-time leading goalscorer at the AFCON tournament, having found the back of the net 18 times across 13 editions from 1982 to 2000.
The striker single-handedly inspired Cameroon to the 1988 title on home soil, scoring 4 goals and winning Player of the Tournament. He came out of retirement in 1994 at age 42 to help Cameroon reach the quarterfinals and scored some legendary goals.
Samuel Eto’o is Cameroon’s most capped player at the AFCON with 35 appearances. He was part of Cameroon’s 2000 and 2002 winning squads and also captained them to the finals in 2008 and 2010.
In 2000, a 19-year old Eto’o scored the game-tying penalty in the shootout win over Nigeria in the final. In total, he netted 18 times for Cameroon at the tournament.
Geremi was a set-piece specialist and defensive midfielder who represented Cameroon at three AFCON tournaments from 2000 to 2006.
He netted the winning penalty against Nigeria as Cameroon triumphed in the 2000 final. In 2002, he was an ever-present as Cameroon went on to retain their continental crown.
Lauren Etame Mayer
Lauren was a versatile player capable of excelling in defense or midfield. He helped Cameroon win their fourth and fifth AFCON titles in 2000 and 2002.
Lauren scored a famous goal against Egypt in the quarterfinals of the 2002 edition on the way to Cameroon defending their trophy. He captained the national team from 2001 to 2009.
Striker Vincent Aboubakar was the talisman for Cameroon’s 2017 triumph, their fifth AFCON title.
He scored two goals in the group stage, a late winner against Guinea-Bissau and an 88th minute strike against Gabon. Aboubakar then netted the opening goal in the 2-1 finals victory over Egypt and finished as top scorer.
In summary, Cameroon has won more African Cup of Nations titles than any other nation except Egypt. The Cameroonians have lifted the trophy 5 times in 1984, 1988, 2000, 2002 and 2017.
Some of their greatest footballing heroes like Roger Milla, Samuel Eto’o, and Vincent Aboubakar have excelled at the tournament. Cameroon has also reached the finals twice more in 1986 and 2008, underlining their pedigree in AFCON competition.
With 5 continental crowns under their belt, Cameroon has staked its claim as one of the African nations with the proudest footballing heritage. Their intense rivalries on the pitch with teams like Nigeria and Egypt have become the stuff of legend among AFCON followers.
It will take a monumental effort for any team to consistently match Cameroon’s success at the African showpiece event. Their winning mentality and never-say-die spirit on the big stage will continue inspiring future generations.