After failing to score in the 120 minutes of regulation and extra time, Libya and Ghana had to be separated by penalties and the north Africans emerged victorious, winning the shoot-out 4-3.
It was second time unlucky for the Black Stars after they also lost to the Democratic Republic of Congo in the final of the inaugural tournament in 2009.
The event will leave South Africa with bittersweet memories. While Bafana Bafana were disappointing on the field after being knocked out in the group stages, the tournament received a stamp of approval from world football bigwigs.
Ghana and Libya dished out an entertaining final in front of a decent crowd.
The two countries had earlier met in the group stages where they drew 1-1. But there had to be a winner tonight, despite it being a hard-fought one.
After extra time, Libya win 4-3 on penalties
Penalty sequence: (Libya kick first) Fasial Ali scores 1-0, Michael Akuffo misses (saved) 1-0; Muataz Fadel scores 2-0, Abeiku Ainooson misses (saved) 2-0; Ahmed Almaghasi scores 3-0, Aseidu Attorbrah scores 3-1; Mohamed Elgadi misses (saved) 3-1, Godfred Saka scores 3-2; Abdelsalam Omar misses (saved) 3-2, Jackson Owusu scores 3-3; Ahmed El Trbi scores 4-3, Tijani Joshua misses 4-3.
Libya: Mohamed Nashnush, Ahmed Almaghasi, Ali Salama, Ahmed Alwani, Ahmed El Trbi, Almoatasembellah Mohamed, Elmehdi El Houni, Faisal Ali, Mohamed Elgadi, Elmutasem Abushnaf (Muataz Fadel 116’), Mohamed Ghanudi (Abdelsalam Omar 64’)
Ghana: Stephen Adams, Godfred Saka, Nuru Sulley, Abeiku Ainooson, Tijani Joshua, Anobaah Theophilus (Abdul Mohammed 99’), Aseidu Attorbrah, Jordan Opoku (Jackson Owusu 119’), Michael Akuffo, Siedu Bansey, Sulley Mohammed (Yahaya Mohammed 63’)
CHAN best XI
Goalkeeper: Mohamed Abdaula (Libya)
Defenders: Ali Salama (Libya), Partson Jaure (Zimbabwe), Odunlami Kunle (Nigeria), Joshua Tijani (Ghana)
Midfielders: Kudakwashe Mahachi (Zimbabwe), Mohamed Elgadi (Libya), Jordan Opoku (Ghana), Christantus Ejike (Nigeria)
Forwards: Rabiu Ali (Nigeria), Seidu Bansey (Ghana)
Substitutes: Stephen Adams (Ghana), Peter Moyo (Zimbabwe), Buhlebuyesa Mkhwanazi (South Africa), Mohsine Moutaouali (Morocco), Yahaya Mohammed (Ghana), Abdelsalam Omar (Libya), Ibourahima Sidibé (Mali), Hardy Binguila (Congo), Jean-Marc Makusu Mundele (DR Congo)
Erwin Nguema (Gabon), Samuel Ainooson (Ghana)
Nigeria secured a third-place finish when they edged out a ten-man Zimbabwe side 1-0 at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Chinonso Obiozor, who was handed his first start of the tournament, scored the only goal of the match late in the second half to help his side finish the tournament on a high.
The first chance of the match went the way of the Super Eagles in the 6th minute as Abdullahi Shehu skipped pass his marker inside the box before offloading to Christian Pyagbara, but he rushed his shot wide.
Zimbabwe were reduced to ten men in the 17th minute as Masimba Mambare was shown a straight red card for a high tackle on Nigerian goalkeeper Chigozie Agbim.
Chances were few and far between in the first half with the only shot on target coming from Abubakar Ibrahim in the 37th minute, but his effort was parried to safety by George Chigova.
Nigeria’s Ejike Uzoenyi was been picked as the Most Valuable Player of the 2014 edition. The Enugu Rangers left winger scooped three Man of the Match awards at this tournament and he also scored three goals. Previous CHAN MVPs were Tresor Mputu (DR Congo at the 2009 edition) and Zouheir Dhaouadi (Tunisia, 2011 CHAN).
Nigeria also won the Fair Play Award besides their third-place medal. South Africa’s Bernard Parker finished as Goal King of the competition on the back of his four goals while Uganda’s teenage sensation, Yunis Junior Ssentamu also netted thrice.
Here is what CHAN showed us.
African football is more tactical
The game in Africa has become more tactical than before and the strength of defensive football across all the teams was there to see.
Libya played a defensive game, got themselves organised and ended up becoming champions.
As the tournament grew older and the jitters of the opening games were over, the games got less and less open and the goals dried up too, which highlighted the tactical approach by coaches and the strong defensive focus. Zimbabwe and Ghana also gave nothing away in defence in their last few games.
Goalkeepers on the rise
Could this be a period in history where some of the continent’s best goalkeepers till playing their football in Africa win moves to Europe?
Not since Cameroon’s Carlos Kameni has their truly been a top class African goalkeeper on the world stage. But now, we have seen several budding stars at CHAN.
Zimbabwe’s George Chigova, Ghana’s Stephen Adams and Nigeria’s Chigozie Agbim all put up their hand in a big way and showed their talents. Talk is that Agbim could force his way into Stephen Keshi’s World Cup squad for Brazil 2013.
The fairytale story is still out there
Libya winning the tournament is just a wonderful story that not many would have believed prior to CHAN 2014.
They may not have won in the most stylish way, but they were effective and are wearing gold medals around their necks whether you like it or not.
Without a football league running in their country due to the political instability for the past few years, Libya were not expected to go this far, let alone win it. They were meant to host the event, but couldn’t due to the situation and only in September 2013 did they begin to play league football again after around a two year gap.
South Africa have a long way to go
They selected the best side they could possibly put together from the PSL clubs that made players available and they had some huge experience in the form of Itumeleng Khune, Bernard Parker and Siphiwe Tshabalala.
But they failed horribly on the field drawing with Mali and losing to Nigeria. The opening game win over Mozambique was the only positive in a tournament showing that needs to be forgotten and fixed immediately.
CAF can improve the quality
Several people at the tournament made the comment that CAF should consider allowing players who play in African leagues outside of their own country, play at CHAN events.
For example, many Zimbabweans play in South Africa’s PSL and were barred from playing by the rules. But South Africa’s team was made up of only PSL players. So there is no real difference had Zimbabwe been allowed to pick players from their domestic league and those who play in the PSL.
The ban on players playing in leagues outside of Africa remains an obvious boundary that enhances development, but opening it up for players who play in African leagues will only enhance the quality of the competition for the next events in future.
Deprived of all national competitions between 2011 and 2013, the local Mediterranean Knights had managed to qualify for the tournament’s finals thanks to the withdrawal of a more fancied Algerian side.
Libya travelled to South Africa only to learn and gain experience under the guidance of their new coach, Javier Clemente, who took over the job last October.
But a 2-0 surprise victory over Ethiopia in their Group C opening game followed by a 1-1 draw against group favourites Ghana boosted their confidence.
Libya booked their ticket for the knock-out stage in dramatic style with an extra-time equaliser against Congo in their last first round encounter, and there was no way Gabon, Zimbabwe or the Black Stars could stop them.
The best side might have not won at the end, and while fans did not witness the most entertaining of cup finals, it was one that can teach you many lessons.
Clemente’s boys were not out to secure a World Cup spot or to impress agents and scouts. They were just fighting for their suffering country and people, and once again football has rewarded the side which showed the most determination as a team through the competition.
And what a morale boost for the Libyan people who had their biggest celebration since the revolution.
“Libya’s football team has managed to do what the politicians have spectacularly failed to do – bring the country together,” said a fan in Tripoli after the game.
For the second successive time, Uganda Cranes failed to make it out of the CHAN group stage.
Coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic though managed to beat highly ranked Burkina Faso 2- 1 in the opening match before a goalless draw with the Warriors of Zimbabwe and falling 3-1 to Morocco.
The Cranes led Group B from January 12 and only tumbled in their final group game against a much more experienced and tactical Atlas Lions Morocco who run rings around them.
“We have lost to much superior and tested Morocco team,” Micho conceded after that match.
Micho and his technical team were however happy with the outing as they managed to score three goals despite conceding four goals.
However, the tournament produced yet another star for Uganda in Junior Yunus Sentamu who scored all three goals and the 19-year old is now much sort after by South African teams.
Meanwhile, this was a better performance by The Cranes compared to the 2011 edition in Sudan when they lost all their matches in the group stages and scoring only one goal.
The FA also praised the team for the good performance despite not getting any support from the government of Uganda. However, the coach will have to concentrate on building a strong defence as the 2015 Afcon qualifiers get closer.