The striker had just recovered from a lengthy injury the previous month, but took little time to recover his form, scoring both of Cameroon's goals (including one penalty) in their tournament-opening loss to Egypt on 22 January, then converting another penalty in their 5-1 win over Zambia four days later. That was his fourteenth career goal in the competition, bringing him level with Côte d'Ivoire's Laurent Pokou for the top-scorer honor.
Cameroon returned to the pitch on 30 January for their last group-stage match against Sudan. A crowd of approximately 10,000 watched as Eto'o took sole possession of the scoring title with a 27th-minute penalty that put Cameroon up 1-0. An own goal by Sudan in the 33rd minute extended the lead to 2-0, then Eto'o added another for good measure in the 90th minute to push the all-time record to sixteen and end the day as a 3-0 win.
Unfortunately for Eto'o, it was his last goal in that year's tournament as Cameroon fell to Egypt in the final. But he returned in 2010 and scored twice more to set the current record of eighteen. He was denied the opportunity to extend it even further in 2012, as Cameroon did not qualify for that year's edition.