Africa Cup of Nations is Africa’s biggest football tournament. The tournament in 2015 was the 30th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations. Why so many already? Because it’s hosted every 2 years. You may say the magic might be less strong in comparison with a tournament hosted every 4 years (like the Asian Cup or the World Cup), but on the other hand: 4 years of waiting is a long time! So the question is, should the Africa Cup of Nations be hosted every 4 years, or should tournaments hosted every 4 years be hosted every 2 years instead? Questions questions! Let’s focus on pure facts, interesting facts that made the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations unique! We doubt if you know all these 2015 Africa Cup of Nations facts already!
Morocco Was Originally the Host Country
On January 29 2011 the CAF announced that Morocco would host the tournament for a second time after 1988. The four host cities would be Rabat (capital city), Marrakesh, Agadir and Tangier. For a long time everything was fine when it comes to Morocco being the host city. Football fans, the Moroccan fans, teams were all pleased, also considering the fact that they were chosen to host the 2013 and 2014 FIFA Club World Cup. But, as we all know, the 2014 West Africa Ebola virus outbreak started to dominate world news. Fears increased which made Morocco requesting to postpone the tournament. The request was dismissed in November by CAF, the tournament would go ahead as planned. The Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMR) had to confirm whether they wanted to continue hosting the tournament and they had til November 8 to confirm. But the date passed, and the FRMR remained silent. On November 11 the CAF showed no mercy and took the hosting rights. They quickly found a country that was willing to take over hosting duties despite Ebola fears: Equatorial Guinea. This was officially announced on November 14 2014.
Morocco Got Punished For Not Hosting the 2015 Tournament
Morocco didn’t announce no plans when it came to hosting the tournament when the deadline of November 8 was reached. 3 days later CAF took their hosting rights, but not without serious consequences. First, the Moroccan team was not allowed to play in the tournament. No, it was team Equatorial Guina that took Morocco’s spot in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations. To make matters worse, on February 6 2015 the CAF announced the Moroccan team is not even allowed to play in the 2017 and 2019 Africa Cup of Nations! In addition, The Royal Moroccan Football Federation was fined US$1m (£650,000) and was ordered to pay 8m euros (£5.9m) in damages.
On the 2nd of April 2015, it was announced that Morocco won their appeal against their bans from the 2017 and 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. The Court of Arbitration for Sport also reduced the fine US$1m (£650,000) to $50,000 (£34,000).
Equatorial Guinea Hosted the Tournament for a Second Time
Many countries shares Morocco’s fears like Ghana, Egypt, South Africa and Sudan and therefore showed no interest in taking over hosting duties from Morocco. Equatorial Guinea, the only African country which has Spanish as an official language, thought otherwise and was announced as the new host country on November 14 2014. They had the neessary infrastrucutr, which was already established due to a previous Africa Cup of Nations. The nation co-hosted the tournament in 2012 together with Gabon. This was the second time 2 countries hosted the Africa Cup of Nations, the first time was in 2000 by Ghana and Nigeria.
Equatorial Guinea Was Originally Disqualified in Qualifiers
Equatorial Guinea was originally eliminated after the First Round of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifications. Ironically, they won the first round by beating Mauritania with a 3-1 aggregate score. However on July 3 2013 the CAF disqualified Equatorial Guinea for fielding an ineligible player named Thierry Fidjeu. This decision was only reversed on November 14 2014, when it was announced that the country would host the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.
4 Host Cities Were Used for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations
Like Morocco originally planned, Equatorial Guinea also introduced 4 host cities and stadiums that would host the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations matches: Bata, Malabo (capital city), Mongomo and Ebebiyín. Malabo and Bata were also used in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations. Mongomo and Ebebiyín were supposed to host one Quarter-Final each, but this was last minute relocated to Malabo and Bata.
Previous Africa Champions Failed to Qualify
Nigeria won the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations by defeating Burkina Faso with 1-0 in the Final. Their success continued by qualifying for the 2014 World Cup and reaching the Round of 16 where France defeated them with 2-0. Nigeria reached the last stage of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifications: the group stage. They were in Group A with South Africa, Congo and Sudan. They ended up occupying the third place with 8 points. Of the 6 matches they only won twice: against Sudan and Congo. South Africa and Congo qualified for the tournament.
The Most Succesful Africa Cup of Nations Team Failed to Qualify
The most succesful Africa Cup of Nations is Egypt! You might not expect this for a country that has only played 2 FIFA World Cups: in 1934 and in 1990. But when it comes to the Africa Cup of Nations, they won the most tournaments of all African countries: 7 times (1957, 1959, 1986, 1998, 2006, 2008, 2010). Although it was in the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations that they became champions for the last time, it was also their last Africa Cup of Nations they participated in. Somehow Egypt failed to qualify for the last 3 consecutive tournaments in 2012, 2013 and 2015.
8 Nations Showed Interest But Only 3 Placed a Bid
Many countries showed initial interest for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations: Botswana, Cameroon, DR Congo, Guinea, Morocco, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. If they really were serious about this, they had to place an official bid before September 30 2010. Only 3 countries ended up placing one: Morocco, DR Congo and South Africa. DR Congo soon withdrew their bid after the CAF inspected their capabilities of hosting such a tournament. On January 29 2011 Morocco was announced as host city, but as mentioned above this was changed at a later stage.
A Draw Had to Conclude Group D
As we all know, only 2 teams can advance per group in the group stage. So let’s say number team 2 and 3 have the same amount of points, what would happen?? Who will advance?? Well, when teams have equal amount of points, the goal difference in matches between the teams concerned will be taken into account. When that goal difference is exactly the same, the goals scored in matches between the teams concerned will be considered. If that match ended in a draw, the overall goal difference will be considered. If even that was exactly the same, the goals scored in all group matches will be considered. ONLY WHEN the amount of goals is exactly the same as well, lots would simply be drawn. Yes, that’s it. No penalty shootout, no any other resolution on the field, no, just a simple quick draw of lots.
This happened in Group D. All 6 Group D matches ended in 1-1 except for Cameroon – Ivory Coast which ended in 0-1. Ivory Coast was group winner with 5 points and Cameroon group loser with 2 points. Mali and Guinea had both 3 points, overall goal difference and amount of goals. This means lots had to be drawn which occurred on January 25 in Malabo. Guinea ended up being selected the lot for 2nd place and advanced to the quarter-finals as the group runner-up. Mali had to go home, but with heavy protesting (of course). Yes, that is not the way you want to leave a prestige and immense tournament like the Africa Cup of Nations.
Ivory Coast Played Ghana in a Previous Final
2 2014 FIFA World Cup participants encountered each other in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations. Both Ivory Coast and Ghana failed to reach the Round of 16 in 2014 World Cup, but were highly succesful in this tournament. The Final was an exciting won that had to be concluded with a penalty shootout. The whole team of Ivory Coast and Ghana had to shoot a penalty! Ivory Coast goalkeeper Boubacar Barry scored the last winning penalty, resulting in winning the Final with 9-8. The last time Ivory Coast won the Africa Cup of Nations was back in 1992 when the tournament was hosted in Senegal. Coincidentally, it was Ghana that played Ivory Coast in the Final as well. Even more coincidentally, the Final ended with a penalty shootout as well! Not only that, but the whole team of Ghana and Ivory Coast had to take a penalty as well! Only in 1992 Ivory Coast won with 11-10 instead of 9-8.
The Africa Cup of Nations Logo Hasn’t Changed Since 2010
Unlike many other (football) tournament, a logo changes drastically with every new edition of the tournament. This is not the case with the Africa Cup of Nations, or at least not anymore. Since 2010 the logo contains the official sponsor’s (Orange) rectangular banner embedded to the left and the text ‘Host Country 201x’ arched over the continent’s map. The map showing Africa with the yellow background is taken from the logo of CAF.
The Marhaba is the Official 2015 Africa Cup of Nations Match Ball
The match ball of the Africa Cup of Nations is a different story in comparison to the one with the logo. With every new Africa Cup of Nations a new match ball in introduced. This time it’s a ball called the Marhaba created by Adidas. Marhaba means Welcome in Arabic and was unveiled on November 26 2014.
Chuku Chuku is the Official 2015 Africa Cup of Nations Mascot
Like the match ball, an Africa Cup of Nations also introduces a new mascot with every tournament. He is called Chuku Chuku and is a porcupine. He was unveiled on January 13 2015. Unlike a FIFA World Cup or a UEFA Euro, the mascot is not really put in the spotlights in terms of promoting the event. Chuku Chuku was not really present on social media for example. Maybe it’s because the tournament every 2 years, and therefore less “magical”?
Champions Ivory Coast Haven’t Qualified for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup
Australia qualified for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup since they won the 2015 AFC Asian Cup. But although Ivory Coast won the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, they haven’t qualified for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup. The reason is simple: there will be another Africa Cup of Nations before the Confederations kicks-off: the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations. The champions of THAT tournament wil qualify for the 2017 Confederations Cup.
Every Team Played in the Tournament Before
Every team that participated in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations have played this tournament before. Of all 16 participants, Ivory Coast have played the most Africa Cup of Nations: 20 times (1965, 1968, 1970, 1974, 1980, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013). Equatorial Guinea and Cape Verde have played the least amount of Africa Cup of Nations: only once. Equatorial Guinea in 2012 and Cape Verde in 2013.
Tunisia Was Almost Banned from 2017 Africa Cup of Nations
Tunisia met hosts Equatorial Guinea in the Quarter-Finals. With 1 goal scored by Akaïchi for Tunisia, it seemed they will advance to the Semi-Finals. But what happened was a last minute goal in the 93rd minute by Javier Balboa for the hosts. This goal was not an ordinary goal, but a penalty kick. Tunisia players, fans, the entire nation was furious about the referee’s controversial decision. Balboa scored the penalty which resulted in extra time. It was Balboa again to score the second and final goal of the match, resulting in Tunisia’s elimination. What happened was the following according to the CAF:
“a pitch invasion by fans, the aggressive attitude of some supporters in the stands, invading of the pitch after the final whistle by players and substitutes of the Tunisian team – insulting the referee of the match and trying to physically assault him – the regrettable behavior of the president of the Tunisian Football Federation (FTF), Mr. Wadie Jary, entering the field of play and strongly criticizing the referee and CAF; and vandalism by some Tunisian players which included breaking of a door in the locker room area and a fridge.”
CAF demanded for the Tunisian Football Federation to apologize or they would be banned from the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations. They apologized on March 13 2015 although they initially refused to do so. Next to the apology, they had to pay a $50,000 fine for what CAF describes as the “insolent, aggressive and unacceptable behavior of the players and officials of the Tunisian team during the aforementioned game”.
The referee by the way got suspended for 6 months by the Referees Committee based on his poor performance.
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