Africa Cup of Nations

caffAfter the 2014 World Cup we have first the AFC Asian Cup as the next continental tournament. The continental championship after that is the one of Africa: the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) organised by the CAF (Confederation of African Football). Like the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the Africa Cup of Nations is organised every 2 years and not every 4 years like many other continental tournaments. The 31st Africa Cup of Nations starts will kick-off in 2017 in January. On the 8th of April 2015 it was announced that the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations will be hosted in Gabon.

Find Out all the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations Facts You Need to Know!

The history of the Africa Cup of Nations started long time ago. The first tournament was hosted back in 1957 in Sudan, one year after the AFC Asian Cup kicked off for the first time. Only 3 teams participated: Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan. South Africa was supposed to play as well, but was disqualified due to apartheid. Since the first edition the Africa Cup of Nations includes a knock-out stage (except for the second edition in 1959). This means there has always been a Final match. Egypt defeated Ethiopia with 4-0 in the very first Africa Cup of Nations Final in 1957.


Egypt won the first Africa Cup of Nations and won this a record of 7 times

Since 1968 the Africa Cup of Nations is organized every 2 years. Before 1968 it was organized every 2, 3 or even 1 year. For many years the tournament was organized every 2 years with no exceptions, till the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations. CAF purposely changed the even numbered years to the odd number years in order for the tournament not to be hosted in the same year as the FIFA World Cup.

The qualification stage of the Africa Cup of Nations contains different rounds and changed formats many times. In the early tournaments the qualification rounds were called zones. From 1974 till 1990 the qualification stage didn’t change and consisted of 3 rounds: the preliminary, first and  second round. The 1991 qualification stage is the first containing groups. The top teams and runners-up advanced to the tournament. The qualification stage that was used for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations was a new format. There was the preliminary, first and second round, but now a group stage was included as well. So basically this latest qualification format is a combination of all previous formats used for previous Africa Cup of Nations tournaments.

The Africa Cup of Nations trophy

There were only 3 participants in the first 2 Africa Cup of Nations in 1957 and 1959. The amount then increased to 4 in 1962 and 6 in the tournament after in 1963. For 22 years, from 1963 to 1990 there were a total of 8 teams participating. That increased to 12 participants in 1992. Since the 1998 Africa Cup of Nations there are 16 teams in the race for the trophy. The upcoming Africa Cup of Nations in 2017 will also consist of 16 teams.

CountryAfrica Cup of NationsTotal
Egypt1957-1963, 1970, 1974, 1976, 1980, 1984-201022
Ivory Coast1965-1970, 1974, 1980, 1984-2002, 2006-201521
Ghana1963-1970, 1978-1984, 1992-2002, 2006-201520
Nigeria1963, 1976-1984, 1988-1994, 2000-2010, 201317
Tunisia1962-1965, 1978, 1982, 1994-201517
DR Congo1965-1976, 1988, 1992-2006, 2013, 201517
Cameroon1970, 1972, 1982-1992, 1996-2010, 201517
Zambia1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990-2002, 2006-201517
Algeria1968, 1980-1992, 1996-2004, 2010, 2013, 201516
Morocco1972, 1976-1980, 1986, 1988, 1992, 1998-2008, 2012, 201315
Senegal1965, 1968, 1986, 1990-1994, 2000-2008, 2012, 201513
Guinea1970, 1974, 1976, 1980, 1994, 1998, 2004-2008, 2012, 201511
Ethiopia1957-1970, 1976, 1982, 201310
Burkina Faso1978, 1996-2004, 2010-201510
Sudan1957, 1959, 1963, 1970, 1972, 1976, 2008, 20128
Mali1972, 1994, 2002, 2004, 2008-20159
South Africa1996-2008, 2013, 20159
Togo1972, 1984, 1998-2002, 2006, 20137
Angola1996, 1998, 2006-20137
Congo1968, 1972, 1974, 1978, 1992, 2000, 20157
Gabon1994, 1996, 2000, 2010, 2012, 20156
Uganda1962, 1968, 1974-19785
Kenya1972, 1988-1992, 20045
Mozambique1986, 1996, 1998, 20104
Libya1982, 2006, 20123
Benin2004, 2008, 20103
Malawi1984, 20102
Sierra Leone1994, 19962
Liberia1996, 20022
Namibia1998, 20082
Zimbabwe2004, 20062
Niger2012, 20132
Equatorial Guinea2012, 20152
Cape Verde2013, 20152
  • Burkina Faso participated as Upper Volta in the 1978 Africa Cup of Nations
  • From 1959 till 1970 Egypt participated as United Arab Republic in the Africa Cup of Nations
  • Congo DR participated as Zaïre till the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations

Ivory Coast is the current Africa Cup of Nations champion. They defeated Ghana with 9-8 in a penalty shootout in the 2015 Final! The most succesful country with the most wins is Egypt, they won the tournament 7 times: 1957, 1959, 1986, 1998, 2006, 2008 and 2010. The current all-time top scorer is former Cameroon player Samuel Eto’o with 18 goals.

ivory coast team

Ivory Coast are the current Africa Cup of Nations champions

Find Out all the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations Facts You Need to Know!

The 2015 tournament was originally to be hosted in Morocco for the second time, the first time was back in 1988. South Africa and Congo DR placed a hosting bid as well, but Morocco ended up with the most votes. The country was officially announced as host on January 29 2011. In November 2014 Morocco refused to host the tournament out of fear over the  Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa. FIFA punished this decision by disqualifying Morocco from the tournament completely. On November 14 CAF announced Equatorial Guinea as the new host. Qualication rounds for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations started on April 12 2014 and ended on November 19. The 16 teams that qualified are:

Group AGroup BGroup CGroup D
CongoTunisiaGhanaIvory Coast
Equatorial GuineaCongo DRAlgeriaGuinea
GabonCape VerdeSenegalMali
Burkina FasoZambiaSouth AfricaCameroon

Equatorial Guinea initially failed to qualify for the tournament, but since they became the sudden new host, they qualified automatically!

Afcon2015 - Copy

The Africa Cup of Nations official logo

The 16 teams were divided in 4 groups where they played a round-robin round. Each team played against the other group members once. 2 teams of each group advanced to the quarter-finals where the knock-out stage began. Not the champions of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, but the champions of the 2017 tournament will automatically qualify for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia.

The 2017 Africa Cup of Nations will be hosted in Gabon. This will be the second time the nation will host the tournament since they co-hosted the 2012 edition together with Equatorial Guinea. Libya was originally chosen to host the 2017 AFCON, but they withdrew due to the civil conflict raging in the country. Gabon was announced as the new 2017 hosts by defeating rival bids from Algeria and Ghana on April 8 2015. On September 20 2014 it was already announced that the 2019 AFCON will be hosted in Cameroon, the 2021 AFCON in Ivory Coast and the 2023 tournament in Guinea.

afcon mascot

2015 Africa Cup of Nations Official Mascot: Chuku Chuku

 Learn more about the CAF Africa Cup of Nations!

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