Africa cup of nations history

 Africa cup: history of the competition






It began with the Abdelaziz Abdellah Salem Tournament, later called the 1957 African Cup of Nations Football Tournament, held in 1957 in Khartoum, Sudan.

African football was still in its infancy when the first competition was organised in 1957. Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia were represented in the first competition, with South Africa excluded for refusing to send a multi-racial team to Sudan. Egypt defeated Sudan 4-0 in the final, becoming the first team to win the tournament.

Two years later, Egypt, inspired by Mahmoud El-Gohary, repeated their feat in Cairo in a tournament that featured the same teams as in 1957.
The 1960s saw the expansion of the Confederation of African Football, and the decade saw the competition gain in prominence.

Ethiopia hosted the third edition of the CAN in 1962. Uganda and Tunisia took part for the first time.
The host country proved unstoppable in Addis Ababa, beating Egypt 4-2 in the final after extra time.

Ghanaian domination (1963-1970)

1963: Ghana wins
In 1963, the final tournament expanded to include six teams, divided into two pools of three. Ghana, independent since 1957 and coached by Charles Kumi Gyamfi, made their first appearance in the finals as they qualified automatically as hosts of the 1963 Africa Cup of Nations. Ethiopia, as the defending champions, were the second automatic qualifiers. Both teams were in the same group. Ghana qualified for the final with a win over Ethiopia.

Sudan went with them thanks to a better goal difference than the Egyptians. The Ghanaians easily won the final (3-0) in Accra10.

1965: The Ghanaian double

In 1965, the African Cup became the African Cup of Nations. Many countries refused to participate because of the political will of Tunisian head of state Habib Bourguiba, who advocated the opening of dialogue between Israel and Palestine. The United Arab Republic (Egypt) withdrew, followed by Sudan. Finally, Congo-Leopoldville took part7 . Ghana easily qualified for the final 5-2 against Congo and 4-1 against Côte d'Ivoire.

In the other group, the host country and Senegal are tied with a win each against Ethiopia (4-0 and 5-1 respectively) and a 0-0 draw in the match between them. A coin toss3 or a decision by CAF11 decided the fate of Tunisia, who qualified for the CAN final. Ghana defeated Tunisia 3-2 a.p12 in the final and thus equalled Egypt's record of two titles in only two appearances, with a team of only two members from the 1963 edition. Moreover, with five wins and one draw after two appearances, the Ghana team is still unbeaten in the finals of the competition.

1968: Congo-Kinshasa wins the cup 

From 1968 onwards, the tournament was held every two years, in even years. The rules (amended in May 1967) now allowed teams to field up to two players from outside their country4. Twenty nations entered the preliminary round in the hope of joining two-time champions Ghana and Ethiopia. The eight teams that qualify for the finals are grouped into two groups of four that play each other, with the top two from each group advancing to the semi-finals (a system used until 1992).

Congo-Kinshasa and Ghana, who had already played each other in the group, met in the final after both qualified after extra time at the expense of Ethiopia and Côte d'Ivoire respectively. Congo-Kinshasa, thanks to its professional players (Muana Kassongo, Nicodème Kabamba, Freddy Mulongo) took revenge for the group match lost 2-1 and won its first continental cup.

Television coverage

The 1970 edition in Sudan saw the first television coverage of an African Cup of Nations finals.
The host country, Zaire, was knocked out of the competition in the first round, while Ghana reached the final for the fourth time in a row.
But the Ghanaians were forced to lose after El Issed's goal gave Sudan its only African title at the national level.

Successive champions

Six different nations won CAN editions in the 1970s: Sudan, Congo, Zaire, Morocco, Ghana and Nigeria. This was Zaire's second CAN title in 1974 (Zaire had won the competition in 1968 as Congo Kinshasa), beating Zambia.
Morocco, with Ahmed Faras, won their first continental title at the 1976 Africa Cup of Nations in Ethiopia18 and Ghana won their third title in 1978, becoming the first nation to win three titles and retaining the trophy forever19. In 1980, Nigeria hosted the event and also won their first title, beating Algeria in the final thanks to striker Segun Odegbami20.


1982, Libya hosted the African Cup of Nations


In 1982, Libya hosted the African Cup of Nations and took advantage of the support of their fans to reach the final.
But the Libyans lost on penalties (7-6), allowing Ghana to win their fourth championship title.
After the premature exit of the defending champions, Nigeria and Cameroon met in the final of the 1984 edition in Côte d'Ivoire.

Egypt's comeback

Egypt hosted the 15th edition in 1986, and managed to recover from an initial 1-0 loss to Senegal before reaching the final, winning against Cameroon the match was decided on penalties.

The Egyptians, in control of their nerves, overcame their opponents (5-4) and won the cup for the first time in 30 years.

African Cup 1988 in Morocco

Moroccan fans were hoping for a victory for their national team when Morocco hosted the 1988 edition, but the Atlas Lions only reached the semi-finals.

The final pitted Cameroon against Nigeria; Emmanuel Kundé's penalty kick gave the Cameroonians their second title.

1990 in Algeria 

Algeria hosted the competition in a heavy climate. Indeed, the fight against the rise of Islamism began to take effect. In sporting terms, Algeria won its most prestigious title by beating Nigeria (1-0)
The Indomitable Lions scored two goals to win the tournament for the first time.

Arrival of South Africa

The 1992 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Senegal now had 12 teams, divided into four groups of three, with the top two from each group qualifying for the quarter-finals. Ghanaian midfielder Abedi Pele, who scored three goals, was voted the tournament's best player after helping his team reach the final (for which he was suspended), where they were beaten by Côte d'Ivoire on the 11th attempt at goal.25 Two years later, Nigeria, who were the first African country to win the tournament.

Two years later, Nigeria, who had just qualified for the 1994 World Cup for the first time in their history, won the title against Zambia26 (a large part of whose team perished in a plane crash on 28 April 1993 on their way to the World Cup qualifiers27 ). For the second time, Rashidi Yekini finished as the tournament's top scorer26.

Nelson Mandela presented the trophy to South Africa's white captain, Neil Tovey, at the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations.
The 20th edition of the CAN in 1996 was held in South Africa after Kenya refused to host it due to a lack of funds.28 The tournament was reintroduced in 1996. The tournament was reintroduced after decades of exclusion due to apartheid. The number of participants in the finals was increased to sixteen, with the teams grouped into four groups. Only fifteen nations participated, with Nigeria withdrawing for political reasons.
After Nigeria withdrew from the 1996 edition in South Africa for political reasons, Neil Tovey became the first white player to lift the trophy, following Bafana Bafana's 2-0 victory over Tunisia in the final.

The 1998 final in Burkina Faso featured two proven scorers, Hossam Hassan of Egypt and Benni McCarthy of South Africa.




For the Cameroonians, the 2000 edition was a succession of magic tricks.


Cameroon were seen as one of the strongest nations in the world, a decade after their surprise run in the 1990 campaign in Italy.
But they faced stiff competition from one of the hosts - Nigeria - in the final.

The Indomitable Lions looked like a walk in the park after two goals from Samuel Eto'o and Patrick Mboma.
But the Super Eagles managed to overcome their handicap, scoring in turn, thanks to Raphael Chukwu and Jay-Jay Okocha.
In the penalty shoot-out, after two missed shots by Nigeria's Nwankwo Kanu and Victor Ikpeba, it was Rigobert Song who scored the spot-kick that made Cameroon the 2000 African champions.



2002 Cameroonian domination

The 2002 final between Cameroon and Senegal also went to penalties, with the Indomitable Lions retaining the title, thanks to decisive shots from Patrick Suffo, Etame Mayer and Geremi Njitap.

Two years later in 2004, Tunisia, on their own soil, won their first continental title in history by beating Morocco 2-1 in the final.

In 2006, it was once again the host country, Egypt, that took the trophy.


Egypt became the first nation to win their fifth continental title, an edition in which Samuel Eto'o finished top scorer.

Egypt retain the title 

in Ghana at the 2008 African Cup of Nations by beating Samuel Eto'o's Cameroon in the final 1-0 (who became the top scorer in the history of the CAN with 16 goals).

In 2010 Egypt won the title for the third consecutive year after beating Ghana 1-0 in the final in Luanda


2012: Zambia clinch first title

Zambia put an end to the Egyptian domination at the 2012 edition. The surprise team of the tournament, they won the trophy at the expense of favourites Côte d'Ivoire in a penalty shootout after extra time. Egypt, the three-time defending champions, failed to qualify for this year's tournament.


2013: Nigerian victory

Having also failed to qualify in 2012, Nigeria returned to the CAN in 2013. Having been drawn in Pool C with defending champions Zambia, Nigeria finished behind Burkina Faso on goal difference (with Zambia being eliminated prematurely). The final again pitted these two teams against each other, with Nigeria winning the trophy, marking their return to prominence after their last trophy in 1994.


2015 : Ivorian victory

This improvement was nevertheless short-lived as Nigeria failed to qualify for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea, which replaced Morocco, initially designated as host country, but which was disqualified by CAF due to its request to postpone the tournament because of the Ebola epidemic.This 2015 edition saw the coronation of Côte d'Ivoire, in a final won against Ghana in an interminable penalty shootout (8 to 7).


2017: Cameroon's victory

Two years later, it was Cameroon's turn to revive its glorious past in the competition by beating Egypt 2-1 in the final of the 2017 CAN in Gabon.

The "Indomitable Lions" thus took their revenge on the "Pharaohs" who had beaten them twice in the final (1986 and 2008).

2019 : Algeria wins

For the 2019 CAN, the Algerian football team won its second CAN (after 1990) against Senegal with a score of 1-0.


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