Sun 12 December 2021 | 8:30

Africa Cup of Nations History

Egypt is the most successful country in AFCON history, having won the title seven times. They also have the record of AFCON appearances (25). Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o is the all-time AFCON top goal scorer with 18 goals. Read on to find out more about the Africa Cup of Nations History.

Within a few days, the African Cup of Nations would be held. Let's take a look back at the competition's history and its significance in shaping the continent's footballing scene. Stay tuned if you want to know more about Africa Cup of Nations history.

The CAF Africa Cup of Nations, or CAN is Africa's premier international men's association football championship. It is sometimes known as AFCON, or Total Africa Cup of Nations, after its title sponsor. In this article, we will also take a look at

African Cup of Nations winners list


The tournament was first held in 1957 and was sanctioned by the Confederation of African Football (CAF). It has been held every two years since 1968, with the odd-numbered years beginning in 2013.



, Sudan, and Ethiopia competed in the inaugural event, which took place in 1957.

South Africa

was set to participate but was disqualified due to the government's apartheid policy at the time. Since then, the event has grown significantly, necessitating the holding of a qualifying competition.

The number of teams competing in the final tournament increased to 16 in 1998 (16 teams were scheduled to compete in 1996, but Nigeria withdrew, reducing the field to 15, and the same thing happened with Togo's withdrawal in 2010), and the format remained unchanged until 2017, with the 16 teams divided into four groups of four teams each, with the top two teams from each group advancing to a "knock-out" stage.

The Africa Cup of Nations was shifted from January to June on July 20, 2017, and the number of teams was increased from 16 to 24.

Egypt has won the event seven times, making it the most successful country in the competition's history (including in 1959, when Egypt was united with Syria as the United Arab Republic).

During the event's history, three trophies have been given, with Ghana and Cameroon earning the first two editions to retain after each of them won the competition three times. The current trophy was presented for the first time in 2002. Egypt won three championships in a row for the first time in 2006, 2008, and 2010.

To avoid clashing with the FIFA World Cup, the event format was changed in 2013 to be contested in odd-numbered years.

Everything about Africa Cup of Nations history:

Regarding the

Africa Cup of Nations history

, it should be mentioned that the Cup goes back to June 1956, when the proposal to form the Confederation of African Football was made at FIFA's third congress in Lisbon.

There were early preparations for a continental competition, and the inaugural Africa Cup of Nations was staged in Khartoum,


, in February 1957.

There were no qualifying rounds for this event, which included the four founder members of the CAF (Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, and South Africa).

South Africa was disqualified for insisting on only choosing white players for its team owing to its apartheid policies, while Ethiopia was given a bye directly to the final. As a result, just two matches were held, with Egypt becoming the first continental champion after beating Sudan in the semi-final and Ethiopia in the final.

Egypt hosted the second ANC in Cairo two years later, with the same three teams competing. Egypt, the host and incumbent champion, triumphed once again after beating Sudan.

For the third ANC in Addis Ababa in 1961, the field swelled to nine teams, and for the first time, a qualifying round was held to decide which four teams would compete for the championship.

Ethiopia, the host nation, and Egypt, the defending champion, were given automatic spots, while


and Tunisia joined them in the final four. Egypt reached the final for the third time in a row, but Ethiopia emerged victorious, first defeating Tunisia and then defeating Egypt in extra time.

Ghanaian dominance in the 1960s

Ghana made their debut participation in the tournament in 1963, hosting it and winning the championship after defeating Sudan in the final.

They won it again two years later in Tunisia, equaling Egypt as the only two-time champions, with a roster that only included two returning players from the 1963 side. The CAF established a regulation in 1965 limiting each team's number of foreign players to two. The regulation was in place until 1982.

The final tournament format for the 1968 competition was enlarged to include eight of the 22 teams who had competed in the preliminary stages.

The qualifying teams were split into two groups of four to compete in single round-robin tournaments, with the top two teams from each group progressing to the semi-finals, a format that was used until 1992 for the finals.

In the final, the Democratic Republic of Congo defeated Ghana to win its first championship. The competition was conducted every two years in even-numbered years starting in 1968; this ended with the 2012 tournament, which was followed by a tournament in 2013, and successor editions in each odd-numbered year.

Laurent Pokou of the Ivory Coast scored six and eight goals in the 1968 and 1970 tournaments, respectively, and his total of 14 goals held the all-time record until 2008. The 1970 event in Sudan was the first to be broadcast live on television, with the hosts lifting the title after beating Ghana, who were playing in their fourth straight final.

The 1970s, a different decade

Sudan, Congo-Brazzaville, Zaire,




, and Nigeria were the winners between 1970 and 1980. After defeating Zambia in the final, Zaire earned its second championship in the 1974 edition (it had won its first as the Democratic Republic of Congo).

The match had to be repeated for the first time in the competition's history, after the original meeting between the two teams finished in a 2–2 tie after extra time.

Two days later, the final was re-staged, with Zaire prevailing 2–0. Mulamba Ndaye, a forward, scored all four of Zaire's goals in these two games, and was also the tournament's leading scorer with nine goals, an unbeaten single-tournament record.

Zaire had been the first Sub-Saharan African country to qualify for the FIFA World Cup only three months before. Morocco won their first title in the African Nations Championships in Ethiopia in 1976, while Ghana won its third title in 1978, becoming the first country to win three championships.

Cameroonian dominance in the 1980s

Cameroon reached the final of the Africa Cup three times in a row between 1980 and 1990, winning the competition twice in 1984 and 1988 and losing once on penalties to Egypt in the 1986 edition.

Algeria was the other dominant team during this time, with solid 1982 and decent 1986 World Cup appearances, the North African nation lost in the final against hosts Nigeria in the 1980 tournament, allowing the super eagles to win their first title.

Algeria reached the semi-finals of every edition from 1980, with the exception of the 1986 cup, until they won the championship in 1990.

Ghana won its fourth continental championship in 1982, when they defeated host Libya in the final. After 120 minutes, the match finished in a 1–1 tie, and Ghana won the penalty shootout to claim the title.

The Return of South Africa in the 1990s

The 1990 African Cup of Nations was the 17th edition of Africa's football tournament, the Africa Cup of Nations (CAF).


hosted the event. The field of eight teams was divided into two groups of four, same as it was in 1988. Algeria won its first title, defeating Nigeria 1–0 in the final.

Nigeria also fell in the final for the third time in four tournaments, this time against host Algeria. The number of teams in the final event was increased to 12 for the 1992 Cup of Nations; the teams were split into four groups of three, with the top two teams from each group proceeding to the quarter-finals.

Abedi "Pele" Ayew, a Ghanaian midfielder who scored three goals, was named the tournament's best player after his contributions helped the Black Stars reach the final; however, he was suspended for that match, and Ghana lost to Ivory Coast in a penalty shootout in which each team had 11 attempts to determine the winner.

In the six matches of the final tournament, Ivory Coast held each of their opponents scoreless, setting a tournament record.

Two years later, the 12-team, three-group structure was utilized again, with hosts Tunisia being humiliated by their first-round elimination.

Nigeria, who had recently qualified for the World Cup for the first time in their history, won the event, defeating


, who had suffered tragedy a year earlier when the majority of their national team perished in a plane accident while flying to a 1994 World Cup qualifying match. With five goals, Nigerian striker Rashidi Yekini, who had won the competition with four goals in 1992, repeated as the top scorer.

In 1996, South Africa hosted the 20th ACN tournament, marking the country's first participation after a decades-long ban ended with the end of apartheid, which was followed by an unsuccessful effort to qualify in 1994. In 1996, the number of final-round players was increased to 16, divided into four groups.

However, only 15 teams competed in the final when Nigeria withdrew from the tournament at the last minute due to political concerns. In the final, Bafana Bafana defeated Tunisia to win their first championship on home soil.

Two years later, in Burkina Faso, the South Africans reached the final again, but were unable to retain their championship, losing to Egypt, who won their fourth cup.

Egypt's extraordinary treble in the 2000s

Ghana and Nigeria, who had replaced Zimbabwe as the initial host country, hosted the 2000 edition jointly.


beat Nigeria on penalty kicks following a 2–2 tie after extra time in the final. Cameroon's Indomitable Lions won their second straight championship in 2002, after Ghana did it in the 1960s and Egypt did so in 1957 and 1959.

Cameroon defeated Senegal, who had also made their World Cup debut later that year, in penalty kicks for the second time. Two years later, in Tunisia, both finalists were ousted in the quarterfinals, but the hosts won their first championship, defeating Morocco 2–1 in the final. Egypt, the hosts, won the 2006 event for the fifth time in a row, a continental record.

Several European clubs advocated for a reassessment of the tournament's scheduling before of the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations. Due to the fact that it occurs during the European season, players that participate will miss many games for their teams.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter said in January 2008 that the tournament will be staged in June or July of 2016 to fit into the international calendar, despite the fact that this would exclude several nations in Central and West Africa from hosting the event (for these months occur during their wet season).

The 2008 tournament was held by Ghana, and Egypt won the trophy for the sixth time, beating Cameroon 1–0 in the final to extend Egypt's record.

Switch to odd years in the 2010s.

Egypt achieved a new record by winning their third straight championship in the 2010 tournament (hosted by Angola), an unparalleled accomplishment on the African continent, after beating Ghana 1–0 in the final, maintaining the gold-plated cup eternally and increasing its record to seven continental titles (including when Egypt was known as UAR between 1958 and 1961).

Egypt became the first African country to win three straight continental cups, joining Mexico,


, and Iran as the only other countries to do so.

Egypt achieved a new African record on January 31, 2010, by not losing in a Cup of Nations match for the first time in 19 years, since a 2–1 loss against Algeria in Tunisia in 2004, and a record 9 straight wins.

In May 2010, it was announced that the competition will be relocated to odd-numbered years beginning in 2013, in order to avoid clashing with the FIFA World Cup.

It also meant that in January 2012 (co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea) and January 2013 (hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea), there were two tournaments in the span of a year (hosted by South Africa).

Because the FIFA Confederations Cup was changed from a biennial to a quadrennial tournament, and the Africa Cup of Nations was switched from even to odd-numbered years, previous Africa Cup of Nations champions such as Egypt, Zambia, and Ivory Coast (winners of the 2010, 2012, and 2015 tournaments, respectively) were unable to compete in the Confederations Cup.

Morocco won the bid to host the 2015 edition in 2011, while Libya won the bid to host the 2013 edition in 2012. However, due to the Libyan civil war in 2011, Libya and South Africa swapped years, with South Africa hosting in 2013 and Libya hosting in 2017. CAF decided to transfer the 2017 tournament to Gabon due to ongoing hostilities in Libya.

Zambia defeated Ivory Coast in a penalty shootout in the 2012 final. Since the match was held in Gabon, barely a few hundred meters from the crash site of their national team's plane accident in 1993, this received considerable media interest. Nigeria won the 2013 tournament, defeating first-time finalists Burkina Faso.

The West African Ebola virus pandemic halted the competition in 2014–15. In Liberia, all football activities have been halted, and the Antoinette Tubman Stadium in Monrovia has been turned into an Ebola treatment center.

The 2015 Africa Cup of Nations was supposed to be hosted in Morocco, but owing to worries over the Ebola epidemic, they declined to hold it on the original dates, therefore it was relocated to Equatorial Guinea.

Total obtained the rights to an eight-year sponsorship deal to support ten of CAF's major championships in July 2016. The 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon, which was called the "Total Africa Cup of Nations," kicked off this trend.

A much bigger AFCON in the 2020s

Algeria won the African Cup of Nations 2019 after defeating Senegal 1–0 in the final. Algeria won their second World Cup championship, and the first since 1990. Nigeria finished third after defeating Tunisia 1–0 in the final match for third place. The number of teams has been increased to 24 in 2019.

There were suggestions about potential reforms to the Africa Cup of Nations under Ahmad Ahmad's chairmanship. Two adjustments were suggested in July 2017:

First, change the tournament from January to the summer in the Northern Hemisphere. Second, increasing the number of teams from 16 to 24 (effective from the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations) at a meeting in Rabat, Morocco on July 20, 2017, the CAF Executive Commission adopted the proposals. The champion of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations received $4.5 million in prize money.

Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, match days 3 and 4 of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, which were scheduled from March 25 to March 30, 2020, have been postponed.

Africa Cup of Nations trophy and medals

Three trophies have been given to the victors of the Africa Cup of Nations during the competition's history. The Abdelaziz Abdallah Salem Trophy, made of silver, was named after the first CAF president, Egyptian Abdelaziz Abdallah Salem. Ghana was the first country to win three Africa Cup of Nations championships, earning the right to keep the trophy permanently in 1978.

The second trophy, known as the "Trophy of African Unity" or "African Unity Cup," was given from 1980 until 2000.

It was a cylindrical item with the Olympic rings over a map of the continent inscribed on it that was handed to CAF by the Supreme Council for Sports in Africa before to the 1980 event. It featured stylised triangle handles and set atop a squared base. After becoming three-time winners in 2000, Cameroon won the Unity Cup permanently.

The third prize, a gold-plated cup designed and manufactured in Italy, was unveiled in 2001.

After winning the 2002 event, Cameroon, the permanent holders of the previous trophy, was the first country to receive the new trophy. After becoming three-time winners in 2010, Egypt earned the gold-plated cup permanently.

Unlike previous victors, who were given the trophy and permitted to retain it, Egypt was given a unique full-size duplicate that they were allowed to keep. Each edition's winner gets a replica of the original trophy with the same measurements.

In the final event, the CAF awards 30 gold medals to the winner, 30 silver medals to the runner-up, 30 bronze medals to the third-place team, and 30 diplomas to the fourth-place team.

Africa Cup of Nations 2022

Africa Cup of Nations 2022

(also known as AFCON 2022 or CAN 2022) is set to be the 33rd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations, the biannual international men's football championship of Africa organized by the Confederation of African Football (CAF). Cameroon is set to host the event, which will take place from January 9 to February 6, 2022.

The tournament was initially slated to take place in June and July 2021, however the CAF stated on January 15, 2020 that owing to unfavorable weather conditions around that time, it would be moved to January 9 to February 6, 2021.

Following the consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak throughout the continent, the CAF relocated the event for the second time to January 2022 on 30 June 2020, although keeping the name 2021 Africa Cup of Nations for sponsorship reasons. Algeria is the reigning champion, having won the competition in 2019.

Following the CAF Executive Committee meeting on January 24, 2014, three official candidates for the 2021 edition were announced: Algeria, Guinea and Ivory Coast

The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations is being bid on by all three recognized bidders. The host nation's choice was pushed back from early 2014 to give each bidder country enough time to welcome the inspection delegation.

On September 20, 2014, the CAF confirmed the hosts for the 2019, 2021, and 2023 AFCON tournaments: Cameroon in 2019, Ivory Coast in 2021, and Guinea in 2023, after a final vote at the CAF Executive Committee meeting.

Cameroon was barred from hosting the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations by CAF on November 30, 2018. Cameroon, on the other hand, has committed to host the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, according to CAF President Ahmad Ahmad.

As a result,

Ivory Coast

, the initial hosts of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, will host the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, while Guinea, the original hosts of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, will host the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations.

After meeting with Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on January 30, 2019, the CAF President approved the timeline adjustment.

The COVID-19 pandemic

The event was supposed to take place between January 9 and February 6 in 2021. Between 9 October and 19 November 2019, the preliminary round and two matchdays of the qualifying group stage were completed.

Due to the onset of the COVID-19 epidemic in Africa, the third and fourth matchdays of the qualifying group stage, which were originally scheduled to take place from 23 to 31 March and 1 to 9 June 2020, respectively, have been postponed, and all remaining qualifying

Africa Cup of Nations matches

have been rescheduled.

The CAF stated on June 19, 2020, that it was unsure when continental competitions would resume and that it was prioritizing new schedules for the 2019–20 CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup semi-finals, the postponed 2020 African Nations Championship and the 2020 Africa Women Cup of Nations, as well as the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, because football competitions across the continent had been postponed, cancelled, or suspended.

The CAF, however, stated on 30 June 2020 that the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations will be rescheduled to January 2022 "following consultation with stakeholders and taking into account the present global scenario," with new dates to be revealed at a later date.

Other continental tournaments and events that were due to take place were either moved or cancelled, including new dates for the remaining AFCON qualifiers, which were now to be finished by March 2021.

On March 31, 2021, it was announced that the final event would be held from January 9 to February 6, 2022, precisely one year after the competition's initial start date.

The Confederation of African Football (Caf) has dismissed rumours that next month's Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) could be moved away from Cameroon following the recent discovery of the new Omicron variant of Covid-19.

In recent days, some media organisations have suggested the dates of the 24-team tournament could change or even the location be moved, possibly to Qatar.

Caf's director of communications, Alex Siewe, said neither the organization nor leading Cameroon officials have discussed such events, "We can't keep spending time dealing with rumours," he told BBC Sport Africa.

"We did not receive any other message or information from our leaders - nothing such as changing of dates or countries. We did not discuss such during all our last meetings."

The final tournament will include a total of 24 teams. Only the hosts qualified automatically, with the other 23 teams competing in a qualification competition.

The 24 teams will be divided into six groups of four for the finals. Each group's teams compete in a single round robin tournament. The top two teams from each group, as well as the four highest ranking third-placed teams, will proceed to the round of 16 after the group stage.

The winners of the round of 16 will progress to the quarter-finals, while the winners of the quarter-finals will advance to the semi-finals. The losers of the semi-finals will compete in a third-place match, while the semi-finalists who win will compete in the final.

With the Africa Cup of Nations expanding from 16 to 24 teams, at least six stadiums in five Cameroonian towns are scheduled to be utilized.

The Olembe Stadium and Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in Yaoundé's capital, the Japoma Stadium in Douala, the Limbe Stadium in Limbe, the Kouekong Stadium in Bafoussam, and the Roumde Adjia Stadium in Garoua have been chosen to host matches. The tournament's first match and final will be held in Yaoundé's newly constructed 60,000-seater Olembe Stadium.

Now in the end, let’s take a look at

Africa Cup of Nations standings

and predictions. In group A, Cameroon is the weakest of the seeds, but they should be happy with their draw. Burkina Faso isn't as good as they were in the 2013-17 cycle, while Ethiopia and the Cape Verde Islands were among the lesser teams in their respective groups.

In group B, Senegal has advanced to two finals, both of which they lost, in 2002 and 2019. They are desperate to win their first trophy this time. Guinea, Zimbabwe, and Malawi make form a group that shouldn't cause too many issues, and the two Southern African teams, in particular, seem susceptible.

Regarding group C, Morocco and


, the two giants in this group, are neither as strong as they have been in previous years, with both fighting for identity and consistency under new management. Morocco's talent should keep them in the game, but will Ghana come up short?

Speaking about group D, it’s a toss-up between Nigeria and Egypt, two of Africa's most successful football countries, and both will be gunning for the gold. Sudan and Guinea-Bissau look to be vying for third place.

In group E, Algeria are the tournament favorites, having gone 27 games without losing. They are unlikely to be fazed by the appearance of an ominous-looking Ivory Coast team. The group is completed by Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea.

Regarding group F, Tunisia and Mali are the favorites, having topped their qualifying groups and are expected to repeat it.

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