The tiny archipelago nation of the Comoros was a country that had no history at a major international tournament when they entered qualification for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations. Drawn into a qualifying group with Egypt, Togo, and Kenya, the Comoros was not expected to compete with those teams.
After two matches, the Comoros had 4 points, but had to wait a year for another match due to the onset of the Covid pandemic. After qualification resumed, they were able to hold off Kenya in dramatic fashion, drawing them on the road and then beating them at home 4 days later. Those points proved to be enough to give the Comoros qualification to their first ever Africa Cup of Nations. The 2021 edition of the tournament, which was postponed until this past month and took place in Cameroon, saw the Comoros drawn into a group with Morocco, Gabon, and Ghana. The Comoros, ranked 132nd in the FIFA World Rankings, was the lone debutant at the Africa Cup of Nations and were not expected to do much except be happy to be at one of the great tournaments in the world.
The Comoros, however, wanted to make an impact, and while they dropped their first two matches, a 1-0 loss to Gabon and a 2-0 loss to Morocco, they still entered the final matchday with a chance to advance to the knockout stage. Standing in their way was Ghana, a 4-time AFCON champion. While Ghana had also struggled, losing to Morocco and drawing Gabon, they still were in the driver’s seat to advance to the knockout stage with a win.
On January 18th, the two teams took the field at Roumdé Adjia Stadium in Garoua, and the Comoros made a statement early. Ben Nabouhane opened the scoring for the Comoros in the 4th minute to make it 1-0 and to give The Coelacanths the early lead. That lead held until the second half, when Ahmed Mogni made it 2-0 to the Comoros in the 64th minute. The celebration was on, and the Comoros started to believe the upset could happen.
But, Ghana got a goal back 2 minutes later from Richmond Boakye and then 13 minutes after that, the Comoros saw their lead evaporate when Alexander Djiku scored in the 77th minute for the Black Stars to level it at 2-2. However, the Comoros still had a bit of magic left in them, and that magic once again came from Ahmed Mogni.
Mogni scored in the 85th minute to give the Comoros a 3-2 win over Ghana, and despite Ghana throwing everything at the Comoros in the final minutes, it was not enough. The final whistle sounded, and the monumental upset had occurred. It was the first ever win by the Comoros at the Africa Cup of Nations, and it was a big one. Not only was it enough to send them through to the knockout stage, it also sent the African giants home. This victory will live as one of the greatest upsets in African soccer history.
The African Cup of Nations Final is today between Egypt and Senegal, and it’s sure to be a great match. However, long after this tournament is done, everyone will remember the day that the Comoros, a nation of 850,000 people, sent shock waves throughout the world by beating one of Africa’s most prolific teams.
For more Black History Month stories, check out our Black History Month hub. We will be bringing stories throughout the month to highlight some of the biggest moments in Black American and world soccer history.