TIE NEWS commemorates African players’ greatest goals on the biggest stage possible.
Siphiwe Tshabalala vs Mexico
Twelve years have passed since Siphiwe Tshabalala’s game-winning goal for South Africa versus Mexico in the 2010 World Cup’s opening game.
The goal was a superb opening goal for the competition and allayed concerns that Bafana Bafana would be outmatched as the tournament hosts. It was a strong effort following a quick South African attack down the left flank.
Following a brilliant performance, Tshabalala was voted Man of the Match, and Peter Drury memorably praised the “goal for all of Africa” that actually kicked off the first edition on the continent.
Papa Bouba Diop vs France
Bouba Diop’s goal, which was also scored in the tournament’s first match, wasn’t particularly pretty—in fact, it was a scruffy effort as he touched home beyond Fabien Barthez and Emmanuel Petit—but it was unquestionably an iconic one.
In the opening game of the 2002 tournament, his goal gave debutants Senegal a 1-0 victory over the current world champions France, and the Teranaga Lions pulled off possibly the biggest upset in the competition’s history.
Both the goal and Diop’s ensuing dance celebration were remarkable.
Francois Omam-Biyik vs Argentina
Oman-header Biyik’s for Cameroon against Argentina in the opening match of the 1990 World Cup was both historic and earth-shattering; it gave the Indomitable Lions a lead after 67 minutes and sent them on their way to one of Africa’s finest moments on the international scene.
Argentina were the defending world champions, and this was a significant giant killing versus Diego Maradona and company, unlike Cameroon who, unlike Senegal, weren’t making their debut.
Unlike the shoddy Diop attempt, Omam-goal Biyik’s was classy; he jumped over the struggling Albiceleste defense to head the ball past Nery Pumpido and secure all three points.
Salif Diao vs Denmark
Although he had trouble making an impact at Liverpool, Diao was at the height of his game at the 2002 World Cup and scored one of the tournament’s most memorable goals against Denmark in the group stage.
After taking up the ball from El-Hadji Diouf and passing it to Kaliou Fadiga, Diao ran the length of the field to complete a stunning counterattack with a superb finish beyond Thomas Sorensen.
As Diao received Fadiga’s return and finished quietly ahead of Sorensen, the Danes had no way to stop Diao’s graceful run through the park’s centre.
Sunday Oliseh vs Spain
Although Rashidi Yekini’s celebrations against Bulgaria make it close, Oliseh’s rocket goal against Spain in 1998 is debatably Nigeria’s best World Cup moment.
The Super Eagles advanced to the knockout rounds but La Roja was eliminated in a breathtaking display of range as the Golden Generation made their mark against a European heavyweight.
The West African giants’ dramatic collapse against Denmark in the knockout rounds is just unfortunate.
Asamoah Gyan vs USA
Ghana’s amazing World Cup run in 2010 came to an end in heartbreak in the quarterfinals against Uruguay, but it was a run full of unforgettable moments as they were the last African team left to carry the flag for the continent.
The most notable moment was possibly Gyan’s extra-time winner against the United States in the Round of 16, when he pulled down a long ball forward, evaded the defender’s attentions, and displayed incredible technique to score past Tim Howard.