Africa Cup of Nations; how it all started
The AFCON (African Cup of Nations) or Total Africa cup of nations is Africa’s main international men’s football competition organized by the Confederation of African Football (CAF). It was first held in Khartoum, Sudan, in 1957. At the time, there was no qualification for the tournament, as there were only four founding nations (Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia, and South Africa).
Since then, the competition has expanded considerably, with the numbers of participating countries stretching to 16 nations in 1998, and it was also necessary to hold a qualifying round for the competition. In 2017, the number of participating teams was increased to 24, with the 24 teams being drawn into six groups of four teams each, with the top two teams progressing to the competition’s knockout stage.
Nations’ success at AFCON
Since the inception of the AFCON, Egypt has been the most successful nation in the cup’s history, winning it seven times(1957,1959, 1986,1998,2006,2008,2010). Cameron has won the competition a total of five times (1984,1988,2000,2002,2017) coming behind Egypt as the second most successful nation in the cup’s history. Ghana has won the competition four times (1963,1965,1978,1982), while Nigeria has won it three times (1980,1994,2013). Ivory Coast, Algeria, DR Congo have all won it two times each, while Zambia, Tunisia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Morocco, and South Africa have only won the competition once.
Players exploits in Africa Cup of Nations
Africa has been blessed with countless phenomenal and talented footballers who have graced the AFCON over the years, with the likes of all-time greats like Didier Drogba, Samuel Eto’o, Rasheed Yekini, Hossam Hassan, Laurent Pokou, and Patrick Mboma, to name a few.
Though Raafat Attia of Egypt was the first-ever player to score in the competition, here are the all-time top scorers:
All-time top scorers at AFCON
Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon) -18 goals
Eto’o’s lethal finishing brought success to the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon and led them to win the AFCON in 2000 and 2002.
Laurent Pokou (Ivory Coast) -14 goals
For two AFCONs, Pokou scored a total of 14 goals in just eight fixtures. However, his goals weren’t enough to win the prize for Ivory Coast.
Rasheed Yekini (Nigeria) -13 goals
Rasheed Yekini is Nigeria’s greatest-ever goalscorer. Between 1990 and 1994, he contributed a total of 13 goals in the competition- topping the goal rankings in both 1992 and 1994. He was also elected player of the tournament in 1994 after leading the Super Eagles to their second triumph in the competition.
Hassan El-Shazly (Egypt)- 12 goals
Hassan El-Shazly scored six goals in the 1963 AFCON and holds the record for most goals by an Egyptian.
Patrick Mboma (Cameroon)-12 goals
Mboma was joint top-scorer at both 2002 and 2004 AFCON. He also helped the Indomitable Lions win the tournament in 2000 and 2002.
Prospective winner of AFCON 2022
With such immense talents, fierce rivalries, and a strong desire to triumph being displayed through the past years, the 2022 AFCON promises to be a massive thriller.
The AFCON 2022 will be the 33rd edition and is scheduled to be hosted by Cameroon, and will take place from January 9 to February 6, 2022.
Although, Algeria is the defending champion, Egypt, who has one of the best players in the world, Mohamed Salah, has been voted as the favorite to win, while Senegal who has the duo of Sadio Mané and Kalidou Koulibaly in their ranks are second favorites. Nigeria is also a side to look out for with stars like Victor Osimehn, Samuel Chukwueze, Wilfred Ndidi, and Kelechi Iheanacho.
It’s a certainly difficult call as to who will emerge as the winner. However, the tournament is bound to be no less of a massive firecracker.
In your opinion, who do you think will win the next competition? Leave your comments with us below.