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Thu 03 February 2022 | 13:00

2021 Africa Cup of Nations best kits

When it comes to spectacular and eye-popping national team kits, the Africa Cup of Nations always rocks and this year's tournament is no different. Read on to learn more about the 2021 Africa cup of nations best kits.

Despite skepticism on the fate of Africa’s biggest football competition,

Africa Cup of Nations 2021

, the AFCON returned with great fanfare on Sunday, January 9.

The Africa Cup of Nations kicked off with a group stage and the 24 teams whittled down to 16, with a couple of surprises along the way. Defending champion

Algeria

and traditional power

Ghana

did not survive the group stage.

So, it is the best time to take a look at the kits that are worn by each team at the tournament. It is worth mentioning that there is a great array of creativity on display, with Nike and Adidas not being the two dominant forces among the kit manufacturers.

In fact, there are a whopping 17 different brands manufacturing kits for the 24 participants, with Puma the most common sponsor at five teams. It released five new kits, for Ivory Coast, Ghana, Senegal, Egypt, and Morocco, in early October 2020.

Teams across the continent, from powerful Nigeria and Ivory Coast to minnows Comoros, have come wearing their national pride on their sleeves, literally and figuratively.

The 33rd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations (now taking place in 2022) features the top international sides from across Africa and they all wear unique attire at the tournament.

From bold designs to classic calls, this year's competition is full of color, flash, and flair. Here's our pick of the lot as the teams have put their best foot forward with the first round of group-stage matches complete.

Top kits at 2022 Africa Cup of Nations:

Once again, it’s time to look at which African country is parading the best kits. Football and fashion are two worlds that have always collided. Over the years kits have been updated or revised to look modern.

What makes a good kit? This is a complex question, and interwoven in the answer are simplicity, clever design, style, or just elements of nostalgia.

As superficial as this exercise is, its implication is sweetly in the bragging rights. Below is a list of the best kits at AFCON 2022 and

AFCON kit rankings

. Each nation is listed along with its official kit-maker.

Zimbabwe (Umbro)

Zimbabwe

's qualification for the Africa Cup of Nations was an achievement in itself. The whole nation are huge fans of football but due to economic problems, they have struggled at this year's Africa Cup of Nations.

Zimbabwe are out of contention and they were the first team to be eliminated after they lost to Malawi. “We go home with some pride and that is what is important for us,” said the Zimbabwe coach, Norman Mapeza.

However, the eliminated team defeated Guinea 2-1 in Yaounde, although Guinea advanced to the last 16 as runners-up in Group B.

Their kit was among the

2021 Africa Cup of Nations best kits

. It was bold, and put simply, the result was spectacular. A yellow background with red, orange, green, and black tears down the chest starting from the shoulder.

The colors reflect the nation's flag, and they are flashy without being too distracting. The tear design is perfectly used.

The yellow shorts and yellow socks continue the look, with the shorts sporting green numbers that pop but don't take away from the work done by the shirt.

Overall a stunningly brilliant kit, and Umbro gets bonus points for a brave design, because taking risks is always appreciated as opposed to something safe and easy that won't bomb.

The away and third kits were not nearly as brilliant, with a "thatched" design, but the home one stands out above all the rest.

Zimbabwe joins the growing roster of African nations serviced kit-wise by Umbro. Inspired by the country’s flag, the home shirt is a yellow base with paint-like stripes of red, black, red, mustard, green running diagonally. The green away kit keeps things busy with a grass-inspired graphic on the front.

Nigeria (Nike)

Nigeria

beat Guinea-Bissau 2-0 in Garoua to become the only side at the Africa Cup of Nations to win all three group games. Three-time champions had already topped Group D and knew their round of 16 clash would be in Garoua, where they have played all their games so far.

However, it was quite inappropriate that they wore those bland third kits in the opening match of the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations, but the stunner is coming. The Nigeria home kit for this tournament is an absolute beauty.

A callback to legendary Nigerian kits of yore, including the iconic 2018 kit. This one's actually maybe too close to that one, which docks it slightly for unoriginality, but nevertheless, it's a wonderful design in a vacuum. The vertical tooth pattern with a white middle is both bold and energetic. It was definitely among the

2021 Africa Cup of Nations best kits

.

After stunning the world with the retro-inspired World Cup kit in 2018, made by American sportswear manufacturer Nike, more was expected for the next rendition. Introducing the Agbada-themed graphic as an innovative design, draping down on both sides of the shirt in cohesive colors of the Nigerian flag. It is as joyful and prideful as Nigerians.

Conversely, the away kit is muted and brooding, perhaps showing how the Super Eagles can be clinically devastating.

Ghana (Puma)

Four-time African champions Ghana were eliminated from the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) after a shock 3-2 defeat to Comoros on the final day of group C fixtures. Ghana was last dumped out in the group stage in 2006. It is the first time in their history that Ghana have failed to win at least one group match having made 22 past visits to the tournament.

While Puma failed to produce anything truly bold this tournament, it’s more conservative designs still hit home. The Ghana kit is the best of the bunch, with a checkered design of pinstripes and faint stars underneath the centralized black star in the middle.

The green numbers and Puma logo pop nicely, and the background isn't too busy to ruin the design. The home kit is actually even better, with a yellow background instead of the away kit's white that really does leap off the shirt, and black sleeves that compliment nicely.

The Black stars have a lot going with their kits, which is one of the best in the tournaments. Made by Puma who have been the country's official partners since 2005, Ghanaian sensibilities are alive in the design.

The yellow away shirt interprets national pride with the traditional fabric of kente, appearing as yellow panels weaving into green and black lines.

Puma's Head of Product line management Teamsport David Bremond gushed about the designs when he spoke to reporters in late 2020, "We took inspiration from Ghanaian architecture, mixing this up with some very traditional colors as well," Bremond explained. "[The kit is a] mix of traditional architecture, art and the colors of the country."

Mali (Airness)

Mali

moved to the brink of the last 16 at the Africa Cup of Nations as they played out a 1-1 draw versus Gambia in Limbe, Cameroon.

After the game, Mali midfielder Yves Bissouma commented, "Afcon is really hard, everyone knows that. Every team is a good team so we will try to win the next game."

Mali’s kit was one of the

2021 Africa Cup of Nations best kits

. The Eagle design was fantastic! Central on the breastbone, the Eagle is supported by green, yellow, and red stripes that look like the Eagle's wings and reflect the country's colors.

The away kit is similar, with just the green background changed to white. It's an excellent creation by French designer Airness.

Mali’s controversial victory over Tunisia in their first game also saw them debut their new home kit from French sportswear brand Airness.

Featuring tricolor stripes of yellow, green, and red from Mali’s national flag, cresting across the top rendered in green, the eagle silhouette at the center is hard to miss.

And we love how it stands out. The eagle is a graphic holdover from the country’s 2019 AFCON outing, and we hope to see more updates from Airness in the future.

Ivory Coast (Puma)

Ivory Coast

thumped Algeria 3-1 to send the defending champions crashing out of the Africa Cup of Nations finals following a disastrous Group E campaign.

It's almost Puma's best kit at the tournament, but just doesn't top Ghana. Ivory Coast has had some classy designs in the past, and this fits right in.

The broken vertical stripes are a great look, and it's even better in the orange home kit (bottom-left in the tweet below) that calls to mind a number of Elephants teams in the nation's true heyday.

Puma is in a multi-deal contract with Egypt, Ghana, Morocco, Senegal, and Ivory Coast. There’s a tendency to see similar elements introduced across the team’s kits, especially with how the Puma logo is discreetly placed to the left.

With Ivory Coast, the Elephants’ home shirt is orange, grandad collar done in teal green which encloses the shoulder too.

Sierra Leone (Umbro)

Guinea reached the last 16 at the Africa Cup of Nations after beating

Sierra Leone

1-0, a result which eliminated the Leone Stars.

Flat out, Umbro crushed it this tournament. This Sierra Leone kit can be divisive, but we love it. The home kit they wore in the opening match is a great shade of green broken up by a classy blue blotch design down the bottom left.

The white away kit has a cleaner look with the flag under the collar. We especially cannot wait to see that third kit on display. It's enough neon to be eye-popping without being painful.

Sierra Leone make their return to AFCON after 25 years, promisingly holding defending champions Algeria to a stalemate in their first game.

Signing a four-season deal with English sportswear brand Umbro, the home kit of blue captures is seemingly the crown jewel. Interlocking lines that make up graphic diamond patterns from the country’s flag of white, blue, and green.

Egypt (Puma)

Egypt

defeated Morocco with a 2-1 win. The Pharaohs meet Cameroon on February 3rd. Egypt’s sail into semi-finals has a feeling of déja vu. The Cameroonian and Egyptian teams hold the most AFCON titles and often meet in knock-out phase.

Salah

starred with goal and assist to send Egypt into AFCON semis. Former Southampton midfielder Sofiane Boufal put Morocco ahead from the penalty spot after just six minutes, but Salah fired in the equaliser from close range eight minutes into the second half.

Then, in the first half of extra-time, Salah went on a brilliant run down the right before putting in an inviting cross that was converted at the far post by Aston Villa's Trezeguet.

Egypt's dramatic 2-1 victory sends them through to a last-four match on Thursday against hosts Cameroon, who beat Gambia 2-0 on Saturday.

It is a repeat of the 2017 Afcon final which Cameroon won 2-1 thanks to a late winner from Vincent Aboubakar, the current tournament's top scorer.

Speaking about their Jersey, it must be mentioned that Puma's had better tournaments overall, and while the Pharaohs' threads are safe and clean, they do pop nicely.

Subtle designs can be good ones, and the black across the shoulders pairs nicely with the deep, satisfying red color of the kit. So, it was among the

top kits at AFCON 2022

.

There's also a very subtle design within the red, a faint pattern resembling hieroglyphics. Well done, although the team will have to play better than they did in the opening match against Nigeria to have a shot at claiming the title.

Before Egypt started their

AFCON 2021

campaign, their flagship striker Mohamed Salah was the cover star on British GQ’s recent issue.

For a country that has the highest trophies so far, the Salah cover was a nice entry point into the competition. The red home shirt designed by Puma has a minimalist chicness to it, and we appreciate the hieroglyphics graphic.

Guinea-Bissau (Guisport)

Mohamed Salah scored his first goal in six matches for Egypt to earn them a narrow 1-0 victory in Garoua, but the Pharoahs had VAR to thank after Guinea-Bissau’s late equalizer was controversially ruled out.

Guinea-Bissau

partnered with a local kit-maker for this tournament, and boy did it pay off. The shirt they wore in the opening round match against Sudan is actually the least interesting of the group, but all four kits available for the Djurtus to wear are clean, crisp, and exquisite.

The white one with the black, red, and yellow horizontal argyle behind the number is our favorite, a killer design.

Guinea-Bissau joins the handful of teams borrowing references from traditional African fabrics in their kit designs.

Partnering with local brand Guisport, their home, away, third, and fourths features Panu du pinti, intricate diamond patterns popular in the country’s textile weaving practices. They appear as vertical stripes on the home kit and checkered on the green away jersey.

Guinea (Mastia)

Naby Keita's

Guinea

were eliminated from the Africa Cup of Nations in the round of 16 after a 1-0 defeat by Gambia.

The Irish kit-maker was inspired for Guinea's design by the country's mascot, the National Elephants, sporting light tusks and an imprint of an elephant silhouette on the jersey, behind tribal designs.

Also notable are the fantastic shorts, which are yellow with red stripes down the sides featuring similar designs. An excellent kit all around, both subtle and intriguing.

After a stint with Italian sports apparel brand Macron, Guinea’s 2021 AFCON kits is from Irish brand Masita. The white third kit is the best offering: the tricolor crew neck doesn’t speak innovation, but the translucent elephant motif on the main body makes it worthy of note.

Cape Verde (Tempo Sport)

Sadio Mane

scored but injured as Senegal reach AFCON quarter-finals in a 2-1 win over Cape Verde.

Talking about Cape Verde kits, it must be mentioned that the Austrian kit manufacturer has done quite well here for the Blue Sharks. Two darker blue stripes down the middle, with the lighter blue background helping them pop. Wave designs cover the kit, and a neat-looking shark peeks out from the bottom-left of the shirt. An excellent design.

The only issue is the dark blue shark is tough to see on the ocean blue background. Would be even better if that was more prominent.

After previous deals with Adidas, Cape Verde’s third appearance in the AFCON tournament finds them inking a four season deal with Austrian brand Tempo Sport.

Out of all the offerings from Tempo, the home shirt is the winner. A navy blue base with vertical stripes, a shark graphic on the body harkening to the country’s cluster of islands, and finished off with a bronze trim on collar and sleeves.

Comoros (Macron)

The

Comoros

were eliminated in the last eight of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations by Cameroon and left the competition amidst tensions.

They were charged for having shown irresponsible behavior on several occasions, including a serious breach of the Covid-19 protocols and forcing access to the dressing rooms.

Marking their debut in AFCON, Comoros kits were released by Macron in late December 2021. And while they may not be favorites to advance in the tournament, their kits have secured the top spot in this ranking for many reasons.

First, the color palette. The home kit is a contrasting shade of green and piped around the collar with gold, the country’s flag stripes cuffing off the sleeves.

The kit is also subtextual. The subtle ‘Chiromani’ pattern under the arm references the essential fabric worn by Comorian women.

The message inscribed at the back of the collar reads “wassi wa komori damu ndzima” which means unity for the national team. Altogether, Macron manages to bring these design themes cohesively without compromising style.

Mauritania (AB Sport)

Mali secured top spot in Group F at the Africa Cup of Nations with a comfortable 2-0 win over Mauritania, who were already out of the tournament.

Mauritania

’s kits are made by AB Sport, a small sportswear brand based in Morocco. The home shirt features a green base, a splash of yellow running vertically down from the red-trimmed collar which keeps the look interesting. The white kit (away) plays it in reverse.

Points for originality from Moroccan designers AB Sport, with Mauritania going for a green kit, with a yellow wispy design down the middle, and red trim around the neck and under the arms.

It's all a bit too wishy-washy to rank among the top shirts at the AFCON, although the white away kit does have a nice fresh feel.

Burkina Faso (Tovio)

Sadio Mane's 87th-minute goal ensured Senegal's place in the Africa Cup of Nations final as they survived a late Burkina Faso fight-back to win 3-1. Many believed that Burkina Faso had no chance of getting past Senegal in the Africa Cup of Nations semi-final.

Burkina Faso first debuted their AFCON kit in the African Nations Championship against Mali in 2020. Made by local sportswear brand Tovio, the home jersey of green incorporates interesting elements as does this white away shirt, a red stripe blending with a yellow star at the neckline and the patterned stallion graphic.

Hervé Koffi of Burkina Faso had his on display in the tournament's opener against Cameroon. The yellow kit with the Burkina Faso red and green stripe down the middle is fire, topped off with a clean star in the center.

Burkina Faso’s home jersey is made by local brand Tovio with the usual colors of green and red with yellow details and a red stripe with a yellow star inspired by the flag.

The away jersey is based on the same design as the home shirt, with a striking red and green stripe and a yellow star.

Algeria (Adidas)

Defending champions Algeria were eliminated from the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), finishing at the bottom of Group E without managing to win any of their matches.

Compared to the special Adidas kit to honor the 1982 World Cup Algerian team, Algeria’s green away kit at the current AFCON is a little of a letdown.

Sure, it has the three white stripes across the shoulders, the jacquard print and smart high collar, but it misses a mark in its overall composition.

40 years on from Algeria's shock victory over Germany at the 1982 World Cup, Adidas have surely missed a trick in not evoking those iconic kits, complete with Arabic script on the front spelling out al-Jazā'ir (Algeria), with their 2022 designs.

The white home kit, released in late 2020, keeps it simple, in fact, very simple, with the green Adidas stripes far more noticeable than a slightly-too-subtle pattern on the fabric.

The away kit is, as expected, green, and of all the shades that Adidas could have chosen for this version of their Condivo 21 template, these were perhaps not the most inspiring.

Cameroon (Le Coq Sportif)

Egypt as the winner of the match between Egypt-Morocco will play

Cameroon

on February 3rd. The Cameroonian squad opened the quarter-final session as they met with Gambia, the Little Thumb of the last 8 round. It is before an appreciative audience that the indomitable lions played their last match in the economic Capital, Douala.

The first thing you might notice on Cameroon’s home and away kits by Le Coq Sportif is the logomania. This includes the manufacturer’s logo, the FECAFOOT crest on the left and the Indomitable Lion’s head on the right, which all rest on a neat sheen of green.

Morocco (Puma)

Mohamed Salah scored an equalizer and created the winner as Egypt came from behind to beat

Morocco

2-1 after extra time in their Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinal.

Morocco were eliminated from the AFCON. However, they wore a lovely, clean, and stylish design from Puma. It paired Morocco's rich dark red strip with a green granddad collar. The button at the top of the neck is a delightful little touch, as are the patterned shoulders. Morocco's kit was simple but classy.

The Atlas Lion's collection of Puma jerseys features the traditional red, green, and white for the home kit with a unique graphic in red running across the shoulders. Meanwhile, the away jersey features a red collar and green branding.

Senegal (Puma)

Liverpool striker Sadio Mane national team,

Senegal

qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals after beating Equatorial Guinea 3-1 in Cameroon.

It should be mentioned that Mane played a pivotal part in Senegal taking the lead in the 28th minute when his sublime through ball put Famara Diedhiou into score.

Later, Senegal also qualified for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) final after beating Burkina Faso 3-1.

Senegal will now play the winner between Cameroon and Egypt in the AFCON final. Now with Mohamed Salah's Egypt facing Cameroon in the other semi-final, the two Liverpool legends could probably face each other in the final!

Talking about Senegal’s jersey, it should be mentioned that those Puma designs, while elegant, feel like a bit of a step back for Senegal after the glory days of those mesmerizing Romai designs that they wore at the 2017 Nations Cup and beyond.

The home kit boasts an all-round pattern design, with red-green-yellow peeping through the fabric after being printed on the inside of the garment. It was a design decision taken by Puma after FIFA restrictions prevented them from using such a bold design on the exterior of the shirt.

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source: SportMob



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