AFCON: 5 Times Charms Were Allegedly Used To Play Matches

AFCON: 5 Times Charms Were Allegedly Used To Play Matches journalist Ridwan Adeola Yusuf has over 9 years of experience covering sports and football.

Abidjan, Ivory Coast - Recently, a video on social media insinuated that the goalkeeper of Ivory Coast, Yahia Fofana, wore charm at the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2023 final against the Super Eagles of Nigeria.

Recall that Ivory Coast defeated the Super Eagles 2-1 in Abidjan to clinch the coveted AFCON title for the third time time in history.

AFCON 2023/Ivory Coast/Nigeria/Senegal/Yahia Fofana/Super Eagles vs Cote d'Ivoire/AFCON Final
It is alleged that charms are now prominent when it comes to football. Photo credits: SOPA Images, Issouf Sanogo
Source: Getty Images

The video showed a goalkeeper with jersey number I6 and the “ASC Jarraf" name tag. The shot-stopper had a black object strapped to his waist with a white rope.

However, checks have shown that the player whose image was circulated differs from the Ivory Coast goalkeeper.

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In this article, examines instances of alleged use of charms during the AFCON in the past.

1) Ivory Coast - AFCON 1992

In 2002, the Ivorian government settled a 10-year row with displeased witch doctors who revealed they had a hand in Cote d’Ivoire’s AFCON triumph in 1992.

They were reported to have been hired by the then-sports minister.

In that year’s final, the Elephants overcame Ghana 11–10 on penalties after they played out a 0-0 draw after extra-time.

2) Nigeria vs Senegal - AFCON 2000

In 2000, an official of the then-Nigeria Football Association (NFA) was alleged to have stormed the pitch to remove a charm that was reportedly placed at the back of Senegal’s net during Nigeria’s AFCON quarter-final match in Lagos.

His intervention 15 minutes from full-time ensured the Super Eagles scored two late goals courtesy of Julius Aghahowa to deny the 'Teranga Lions' from proceeding to the semi-final.

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In a similar vein, Nigerian football legend, Taribo West, once said players and officials were deeply involved in the act.

The AFCON medalist said:

“Of course yes (I was involved). I don’t know why people decline to talk about their involvement with charms.
"Football has to do with a lot of powers. When there are big events, you look at the stadium, you see people, fans invoking all kinds of things; magicians are there, voodooists are there.
“In my playing days, when I was ignorant, I used to get some mallams and babalawos (traditional doctors) to make charms for us, which we took to (national) camp. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t.
“In some clubs, before every game, the president or leader of the club will give you a lucky charm to play with. They will tell you to put it in your boots or socks and play. It’s their superstitious belief; that it can help them win matches.

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“There are some coaches who are connected to African magicians and soothsayers from Senegal, Burkina Faso, Zaire or even Nigeria. These people are consulted to give these coaches results of games even before the matches are played.
“These people see strange things and they can tell you with their magic and charms, what the outcome of a match will be. People believe and use it. It works for those who believe in it. I saw it, I experienced it, I was with players that used it and I used it. So, why are people denying it? There are charms and rituals in football. It still exists.”

3) Cameroon vs Mali - AFCON 2002

Before Cameroon squared up against Mali in the semi-final of the 2002 AFCON in Bamako, the handler of 'the Indomitable Lions' at the time, Winfried Schafer, and his goalkeeping coach, Thomas Nkono, were arrested by riot police for placing a charm on the pitch shortly before kick-off.

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4) Cameroon - AFCON 2010

For Cameroonian journalists who observed 'the Indomitable Lions' at AFCON 2010 hosted by Angola, suspicion of charm usage surfaced.

The journalists spoke about "suspicious persons" with "strange behaviours" in the official delegation to the tournament.

One journalist said:

"One of them always had a box of matches even though he was not a smoker. Worse still, he lit candles in broad daylight. If this was not a juju man, then who was he?"

5) Guinea vs Ghana - AFCON 2015

Guinea player, Abdoulaye Cisse, was alleged to have used charm to help his side defeat Ghana at the 2015 AFCON.

The claims emanated after he was pictured wearing a talisman to allegedly help his side to victory during the match in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.

A picture which circulated at the time showed the talisman that Cisse had beneath his shirt.

"There's juju at play in African sports" - Expert

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Baring his thoughts on the matter, Suleiman Ndagi, a sports blogger, expressed his belief that charm indeed exists and is used in African football.

Ndagi told

"There was more to that Nigeria-Senegal match. When scoring was elusive, Nigeria coach, Jo Bonfere, threw in a strong Benin boy who surely feared no evil.
"That aside at some point in the match with Nigeria trailing by 1 goal while there was a dead ball situation Finidi George, who was within Senegal's six-yard area at the time seized the opportunity to throw the ball into the net.
"The reaction of a number of Senegalese players who ran towards him suggests that Finidi's action meant something that does not meet the eye.
"Not long after that incident, low and behold, our Benin-born wonder kid (Julius Aghahowa) scored the first of two fantastic goals.
"Believe it or not. There is juju at play in African sports."

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AFCON 2025: CAF announces date for draw

Earlier, reported that the Confederation of African Football (CAF) said the preliminary draw of the AFCON Morocco 2025 would be held on Tuesday, February 20, 2024, in Cairo, Egypt.

The announcement followed the conclusion of the 34th edition of the AFCON 2023 in Ivory Coast.


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