Being Africa’s top tournament, the African Cup of Nations gives unheralded players the chance to shine the global spotlight. It has often been a place where undiscovered talents have gotten spotted and moved on to much bigger and better things. Those who regularly have done this have become cult heroes in their home countries and been involved in momentous occasions on a global scale. But who are those that have stood tall time and time again when the pressure is on? Here are the 7 top scorers in the history of AFCON.
7 top scorers in AFCON history
7. Hossam Hassan (11 goals)
One of international football’s unsung heroes, Egypt’s Hossam Hassan was always a reliable figure to count on. Having led the line for his country across three decades, Hassan was part of a side that won the title in 1986, 1998 and 2006. His predatory instincts helped him star in many tournaments particularly in 1998 where he finished top scorer of the tournament with seven goals.
It was also in 2006 where he ended his career on a high captaining Egypt to the title on home soil cementing the fairytale ending. With 68 goals in 176 games, Hassan is the third most capped player of all-time in football and a bonafide legend in African football.
6. Patrick Mboma (11 goals)
Like a moving freight train, Patrick Mboma blended both pace and power to shake off defenders and score time and time again. Mboma was a key part of the Cameroon squad that won back-to-back tournaments in 2000 and 2002 and often played a starring role. The 2000 African Footballer of the Year spearheaded a lethal attacking partnership with Samuel Eto’o that often destroyed defences in the blink of an eye.
Mboma was perhaps most effective in 2002 where he finished top scorer in the tournament as Cameroon defended their title. With 11 of his 33 goals at international level happening in the African Cup of Nations, Mboma was a player who always shone on the big stage.
5. Didier Drogba – 11 goals
One of the finest strikers of his generation, Didier Drogba was the star player for the Ivory Coast for the best part of the decade. Without any real weakness, Drogba could singlehandedly pull his country across the line when the pressure was on. The 2x African Player of the Year never gave less than 100% and was named in the Team of the Tournament no less than three times when appearing at the CAN.
It’s an impressive feat to achieve even though Drogba never managed to win the title with his country – one of the few accolades that remains missing from Drogba’s star-studded trophy cabinet. One of the three top scorers in AFCON history with 11 goals but he did it in fewer appearances than the two below him on the list.
4. Hasan El-Shazly (12 goals)
During the early days of the African Cup of Nations, Egypt were one of the leading teams in the continent. Leading the line at that time was Hasan El-Shazly, a striker who could always be trusted to find the net. El-Shazly’s best form came in the 1963 where he scored six goals in the tournament despite Egypt struggling to live up to their previous form.
El Shazly continued to shine scoring another 6 goals across four more tournaments totaling 12 in his career. El-Shazly remains Egypt’s top scorer in the tournament despite never lifting the trophy with his home nation during his playing career.
3. Rashid Yekini (13 goals)
As Nigeria developed into a world-beating side throughout the 1990s, their frontline was spearheaded by Rashid Yekini. Yekini’s determination and eye for goal made him a perennial threat whenever he took to the pitch and no matter who the opposition was. Yekini’s defining moment came at the 1994 tournament in Tunisia where he netted five times to win the golden boot and earn a spot in the Team of the Tournament.
After that, Yekini would become the first Nigerian to ever score at the World Cup in 1994 before retiring from football in 1998. Although health issues sadly led to Yekini passing away in 2011 aged just 48, his legacy remains as one of the nest Nigerian players to ever lace a pair of boots and third in the list of all-time top scoers in the AFCON tournament.
2. Laurent Pokou (14 goals)
For several decades, Laurent Pokou was considered one of the best to ever appear at the African Cup of Nations. Starring for the Ivory Coast in the 1960s and 1970s, Pokou was one of the best finishers around able to score repeatedly match after match.
He won the Golden Boot in two straight tournaments in both 1968 and 1970 with 6 and 8 goals respectively. The most impressive moment of these feats was notching 5 in the 1970 tournament when Ivory Coast beat Ethiopia 6-1 in the group stages. It was these feats that saw Pokou be the tournament’s leading goal scorer until the 21st century.
1. Samuel Eto’o (18 goals)
With pace, intelligence and lethal finishing, Samuel Eto’o was one of the best strikers in the world throughout much of the 2000s. It was why he was a goalscoring machine for Cameroon and showed this for almost three decades. Eto’o was a part of the squad that won back to back tournaments in 2000 and 2002 although his best form was yet to come. He would win the Golden Boot in 2006 scoring 5 goals even though Cameroon failed to reach the last form.
Further yet, he would repeat the feat in 2008 scoring another five goals as Cameroon reached the final. It was in the 2008 cup when Eto’o became the all-time tournament top scorer breaking Laurent Pokou’s thirty-year-old record. With 18 goals across 6 tournaments, Eto’o is miles ahead of his rivals in the all-time rankings and remains one of Africa’s greatest ever players.Top goal
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