By Giovanni Wanneh
Football Writer, kick442.com-Cameroon
A penalty kick is most often handed to the best player on the pitch who can keep his cool, pick his corner and slot the ball past the goalkeeper from 12 yards, despite the game’s pressure.
Missing penalties have left most African stars with a teary-eyed, nightmarish moment when they recall.
Pierre Wome Nlend: Cameroon vs Egypt, 2006 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers
The indomitable Lions of Cameroon needed a victory at home against sour rivals Egypt to make the finals of the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Cameroon was handed a penalty in the 95th minute of extra time, with most stars of the team seemingly delighted, but turning their backs on the kick. Pierre Wome Nlend summoned courage; unfortunately, for Wome, he cannoned the outside of the post and Ivory Coast qualified at the expense of the Lions.
Didier Drogba: Cote d’Ivoire vs Zambia, AFCON 2012 finals 2012
Cote d’Ivoire’s so called golden generation marshalled by Didier Drogba failed to win the 2012 AFCON due to their starman Drogba, failing to convert his penalty kick.
The 2012 finals was on a knife-edge, with Cote d’Ivoire having a crucial opportunity to emerge victorious, as they were handed a 70th-minute penalty kick. Who better than Didier Drogba to put the game well and truly past the Zambians?
As it turned out, Drogba took one of the worst penalties of his life in what was undoubtedly one of the biggest occasions of the veteran striker’s career. Drogba looked up to the football heavens as though to ask the football god; if there’s any, why him. Cote d’Ivoire went on to swallow defeat on shootouts.
Samuel Eto’o: Cameroon vs Cote d’Ivoire, AFCON 2006 quarterfinals
Samuel Eto’o of all people missed his second penalty in the shootouts of the 2006 AFCON quarterfinals, as Didier Drogba converted he’s to give Cote d’Ivoire an extraordinary 12-11 win.
Samuel Eto’o prior to that game scored five goals and was having the tournament of his life before ballooning his second penalty in the shootout against bitterest rivals Cote d’Ivoire. The striker was distraught and wept inconsolably.
Nwankwo Kanu: Nigeria vs Cameroon, AFCON 2000
There’s no better way for a wonder kid to impress his home crowd, rather than converting a nerve racking penalty against giants Cameroon in the AFCON final.
Nwanko Kanu has rarely had career headaches in the football sense, but he was indeed a culprit in the crime scene when villains Cameroon went to Lagos and brook Nigerian hearts. Kanu was the third to step up and had his penalty parried by Alioum Bukar. The look on the young man’s face, who was fresh from winning his second African player of the year, was underwhelming. Cameroon went on to win 4-3 on penalties; it was the third final played between these two, and equally the third victory Cameroon had against Nigeria in an AFCON final after that of 1984 and 1988.
El Hadji Diouf: Senegal vs Cameroon, AFCON final 2002
Senegal was within touching distance of their first ever AFCON trophy but between themselves and the prestigious silverware was Cameroon. The two teams cancelled each other out with a 0-0 stalemate and only penalties could separate them. El Hadji Diouf’s effort smashed the upright and went agonisingly wide. The young Senegalese team would go forward to impress the world in the 2002 World Cup but it only remains the question of; what if? For Diouf and co.
Asamoah Gyan: Uruguay vs Ghana, World Cup 2010:
At the 120th minute, Dominic Adiyiah’s header was headed to the net but stopped theatrically. With goalkeeper Fernando Muslera out of home, Luis Suarez provided an illegal cover for his keeper with his arm.
Ghanaian star Asamoah Gyan in a stretched game against their South American opposition had a chance from 12 yards to make history, but the forward couldn’t beat the bar to score.
With three goals scored in the tournament, Gyan converted during the regular shootouts but Uruguay went on to win 4-2.
All the aforementioned stars (active and non active) went on to have a palatable playing career, but as the saying goes; penalty kicks are known as a gamble and lottery. So, there can be no real master of the art of taking penalty kicks.
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