On this day 14 February 2004 (Exactly 15 years ago) An error from Morocco keeper Khalid Fouhami gifted Tunisia their first-ever African Cup of Nations title.
Striker Ziad Jaziri poked home the winner six minutes after the break when Fouhami fumbled Jose Clayton’s low cross into the penalty area.
Tunisia took the lead after just four minutes when Francileudo dos Santos finished off Mehdi Nafti’s cross.
Morocco bounced back just before half-time when Youssef Mokhtari headed in Youssef Hadji’s clipped centre.
Defeat for Morocco was hard on an unfancied side, whose young attack, which included Youssef Mokhtari, Youssef Hadji and Marouane Chamakh dazzled defences during the three weeks of competition.
In the final though, that trio and the rest of Morocco’s attacking force was well shackled by a tough Tunisia defence, marshalled by Hatem Trabelsi.
Morocco’s backline also proved stubborn resistance in a match which produced few clear-cut scoring opportunities.
That said, it took only four minutes for Morocco’s defence to be exposed when the hard-working Nafti flighted in a superb cross from the right-wing which the relatively diminutive Dos Santos nodded into the goal.
A frenetic few minutes followed, as Tunisia pressed forward for a second.
Sochaux midfielder Adel Chedli picked a bad time to leave his shooting boots at home when he blasted high and wide from another Nafti centre.
A battle in the middle of the Stade Rades pitch followed with Tunisia looking to shut up shop as early as midway through the first-half, with Morocco seeking a way back into the match.
And with just a few minutes left before the interval break it seemed that Roger Lemerr’s side had stifled all Morocco had to offer.
However, Hadji, who has shone in almost every game at this Cup of Nations, had another plans.
The brother of the more illustrious Mustapha, delivered a carefully weighted cross which eluded all but Mokhtari who sent his bullet header past keeper Ali Boumnijel.
Game on. But such was 100mph feeling of the opening half, things had to slow down.
The tempo did, but somebody obviously forgot to tell Fouhami that he still had to keep his reactions sharp.
The keeper has shone throughout the tournament for Morocco having conceded just two goals before the final, but his blunder for Tunisia’s second is what he will be remembered for in this tournament
Clayton, who earlier tested the keeper with a wicked volley, delivered a softly struck cross into the six-yard-area.
Fouhami inexplicably failed to collect the ball, leaving Jaziri to take advantage and tap in.
It was expected that a Morocco onslaught was to follow, but that never occured.
The Atlas Lions were a spent force. The youthful vigour had finally run out of steam.
For Lemerre’s Tunisia though, their dogged determination in all areas of the pitch, proved to be enough on the day.
Of course, had Fouhami not fumbled, it may have been a different story.
Morocco: Khalid Fouhami; Hoalid Regragui, Abdeslam Ouaddou, Noureddine Naybet, Talal El Karkouri, Akram Roumani (Jaouad Zairi, 73); Abdelkrim Kissi, Youssef Safri (Mohammed El Yaagoubi, 63), Youssef Mokhtari; Youssef Hadji (Nabil Baha, 87), Marouane Chamakh.
Tunisia: Ali Boumnijel; Hatem Trabelsi, Radhi Jaidi, Karim Hagui, Jose Clayton; Riadh Bouazizi, Mehdi Nafti (Jawhar Mnari, 46), Adel Chadli; Slim Benachour (Kais Ghodhbane, 57); Zied Jaziri (Imed Mhadhebi, 70), Santos.
Referee: Falla Ndoye (Senegal).
On this day 14 February 2004 (Exactly 15 years ago) Thousands of football supporters who heeded the call by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports to throng the Accra Sports Stadium to support the Black Queens to victory against their Nigerian counterparts were left distraught and shell shocked as the Ghanaians lost on penalties in an inexplicable manner.
The defeat, which knocked the Ghanaians out of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games was too bitter for them to swallow as they watched the Queens throw away three consecutive penalty kicks after taking a two goal lead to end the kicks 3-2 in favor of the Falcons of Nigerians. The turn -out of supporters which was probably the largest ever seen at the Accra Sports stadium in a long time saw them filling every inch of space in their “red attire” reflecting the festive mood of Valentine .
The fans who sat on tenterhooks through the match which swung from one end to another could not control their emotions any longer as Skipper Memunatu in post saving two consecutive penalties to put Ghana in the lead.
Chants like “Inside the net” “Send your power, Holy Ghost power” when the Queens were about to take their penalty kicks and “Away, Away” when it was the turn of the Falcons, reverberated at a deafening pitch around the stadium as it appeared the Nigerian dominance over the Ghanaians in women football was coming to an end.
But by twist of fate, the Ghanaians threw away kick after kick from their third penalty to see their lead fizzle out as the Nigerians scored to draw level up the scores.
What broke the heart of the teeming fans was when former skipper, Alberta Sackey could not hold her nerves and casually allowed the Nigerian goalkeeper to save her kick that saw the Queens being knocked out.
Most of the lady supporters, who were in a prayerful mood before the last Ghanaian kick could not believe what they saw and remained glued to the spot as they appeared lost in thought and not knowing what to do next.
While some remained motionless and watched the Nigerians jubilate on the field, others quietly filed out of the stadium trying to find answers to questions on what went wrong. One lady supporter clad in red told the GNA Sports that it was the first time she had come to the stadium and this might probably be her last as she cannot bear the emotional trauma that the game has brought to her.
In the game itself, the Falcons took the lead in the second half from a goalmouth melee only for the Queens to level up from a corner kick five minutes later.
The game then swung from one end to the other with both teams coming close on a number of occasions but could not find the net to end 120 minutes of football and after the extra time.
The two teams then were on a 2-2 aggregate because of their earlier game that ended by a similar one all in Ibadan, Nigeria two weeks ago. Before the game, a musical concert meant as a motivating factor and to add more spice to the occasion, a musical concert involving musicians like VIP, Tic Tac, Sydney, Antwi-Nantwi, Sony Achiba, King David and Batman among others performed to entertain the huge crowd in attendance.
On this day 14 February 1951(Exactly 68 years ago) Sugar Ray Robinson defeated Jake LaMotta for World middleweight title at the Chicago Stadium, Chicago ,USA.
By George ‘Alan Green’ Mahamah