Football pundits and sports journalists from all over the world have commended the splendid organization of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations sponsored by Total Petroleum and Orange Telecom.
The continental soccer fiesta which brought together 16 qualified nations including Gabon, the host nation saw preferences like Algeria and defending champion, Cote d’ Voire exiting at the first round.
Top contenders like Senegal, Ghana, Morocco, Mali and Gabon also fell before unsung Cameroun meet hot favourites in the final and shocked the Pharaohs with two great goals after going down in the first half.
The Indomitable Lions roared louder for the fifth time at the AFCON and dedicated their triumph to late star Marc Vivien Foe who wore the number 17 shirt, which coincided with the year that they won their fifth African Cup.
Ex- stars of Cameroun, Roger Milla and Samuel Etoo Fils were at the stadium in Libreville for the final alongside Marcel Desailly and Abdul Razak from Ghana.
For the game, Cameroun deserve to win, after they defeated the Black Stars of Ghana 2-0 at the Semi Finals. They went on to beat seven times winners, Egypt 2-1 in a match fit for the final.
The Cameroun team did not believe that they won as they were not one of the hot contenders. Even before they flew to Gabon, eight of their top players decided not to attend the soccer fiesta so the Belgium coach Hugo Broos had to find young committed players who worked as a family with discipline as their hallmark and steadfast as they were, they excelled and grabbed all the honours; won the best player of the final game, best goal keeper of the tournament (Golden Gloves) and best player (MVP) of the tournament which went to Christian Bassogog spotting No13 jersey.
Officiating was on the high standard and fair play was the judgement of the referees.
The fans were there in their numbers when it matters most, despite the opposition in the country instigating the masses to boycott the tournament.
New stars emerged from the tournament and that also proved that Africa will never be short of real gems. While the old stars did what was expected, the new rising stars also added style and flavor to the game.
The Camerounians, Egyptians, Senegalese, Burkinabes, Ghanaians, Guinea Bissau team, Zimbabweans, Ugandans, Togolese were a delight to watch, and the fans also displayed wonderful costumes depicting their countries national team and symbols.
The low point may be the nature of the newly built pitches, but the ground at the finals was excellent and praise must go to the President of Gabon, the President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), the Gabon FA and all those who volunteered and worked for the success of the competition in the 60th year on the formation of CAF.
For the first time, the winners were content with the prize money of $4million and exposure for the players by participating at the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia.
The next competition in 2019 comes off in Cameroun and it is not by coincidence that Cameroun are the winners and have to defend on home soil.
For my country, the Black Stars, they were simply not lucky and it is time they learn to rally behind their national team with one positive spirit, and not disjointed over NPP and NDC.
African Football has come of age and we that FIFA and the agencies that support the game. The FIFA President, Gianni Infantino graced the final at Libreville and he was also impressed with the stadia and standard of play.
My only worry is that the stadium built out of town in the rain forest must be utilized to open up the city of Oyem.
By Sammy Heywood Okine