A day in history - March 18, 1978: Ghana wins African Nations Cup for keeps

BY: Thomas Freeman Yeboah

On Saturday, March 18, 1978 Ghana became the first country to win the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) for keeps by beating Uganda 2-0 in the final of the tournament which it hosted at the Accra Sports Stadium.

Earlier Ghana had won the Cup of Nations in 1963 and 1965 to achieve a hat-trick of successes in the competition’s history.

CAF had to get a new trophy for the Nations Cup staged in Nigeria in 1980 and fortunately enough the Supreme Council for Sports in Africa (SCSA) donated it.

The first trophy that the Black Stars won for keeps was called Mustapha Cup and the new one donated by the SCSA was christened the African Unity Cup.

Ghana earned the title ‘the Brazil of Africa’ after winning the AFCON for keeps, for emulating the pace set by Brazil in 1970, winning the World Cup for keeps, and also the mere fact that Ghana went to Brazil for their training tour ahead of the tournament.


The then Head of State of Ghana, General Ignatius Kutu Acheamong, was also the Commissioner of Sports, and he appointed Col. Simpe-Asante as his personal assistant. So, the government’s love for sports was, therefore, very high.

Due to this, they arranged for the Black Stars to go on a pre-tournament training tour in Brazil for the second time to prepare them adequately for the tournament.

Road to the final

Ghana started the tournament with a 2-1 win over Zambia, before drawing 1-1 with Nigeria and finished the group with a 3-0 thrashing of then Upper Volta ( now Burkina Faso).

Ghana met Tunisia in the semi-final, as only eight (8) nations participated in the tournament. Abdul Razak fetched the only goal of the match to give the Black Stars a lone goal win.


The Stars defeated Uganda in the final game 2-0 and  was captured in one of the newspaper reports the next day thus:

‘’The Cranes of Uganda left the shores of Ghana last night with sweet memories, for they were here when history was made.

“All the two goals came from the boot of Opoku Afriyie to give Ghana a 2-0 victory over Uganda’’.

The Stars won the AfCON on the 21st birthday of the nation which was also the 21st year of the African football controlling body.

The 1978 AFCON winning team

Ghana squad:

Goalkeepers; Joseph Carr (Hasaacas), Abdulai Chesco (SS 1974), Fuseini Salifu (Asante Kotoko)
Defenders: P.S.K. Paha (Eleven Wise), Ofei Ansah (Hearts of Oak), Haruna Yusif (Corners), Isaac Acquaye (Dumas Boys of GTP), Awuley Quaye (Great Olympics -Captain), James Kuuku Dadzie (Hasaacas), Justice Moore (Eleven Wise).

Midfielders: Adolf Armah (Hearts of Oak), John Nketia Yawson (Eleven Wise), Addae Kyenkyehene (Asante Kotoko), Karim Abdul Razak (Asante Kotoko), Mohammed Ahmed Polo (Hearts of Oak)

Forwards: Dan Kayede (Great Olympics), George Alhassan (Great Olympics), Emmanuel Quarshie (Hasaacas), Opoku Afriyie (Asante Kotoko), Anas Seidu (Hearts of Oak), Willie Klutse (Dumas Boys), Kuntu Blankson (SS 1974)


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Head coach: Fred Osam-Duodu
Assistant coach: E.K Afranie

Fans chants
We are the Brazil of Africa; fans began to chant after the Stars were two goals up, putting the Ugandans beyond recovery at the Accra Sports Stadium.

Abdul Razak (The Golden Boy) was voted the Most Valuable player (Best player of the tournament). 

The unfulfilled promise of an estate house for each member of the winning team.

The head of state,Gen I.K Acheampong, promised the Black Stars group an estate house each. He said this at his Burma camp residence when the Stars presented the coveted cup to him.

Unfortunately, there was a palace coup in the Supreme Council I that removed Acheampong from office for FWK Akuffu to take over as the head of state, thus hampering the fulfillment of the estate house he promised the team.