Africa Cup of Nations history, facts, and which country has won the most titles

Africa Cup of Nations history, facts, and which country has won the most titles

Football is one of the oldest sports in the world. Europeans introduced it to Africa in the late 18th century, and it has since grown to become the continent's most popular sport. The African Cup of Nations is the continent's premier tournament, and only the best teams from across the continent are invited to compete. So, when did the tournament begin, and which country holds the most titles?

Africa Cup of Nations
The AFCON trophy was presented to the Cameroonian Minister of Sports and Physical Education on December 7, 2021. Photo: Daniel Beloumou Olomo
Source: Getty Images

What is the African Cup of Nations? It is the premier international men's association football competition in Africa. The tournament is also known as the AFCON or Total Africa Cup of Nations and is named after its title sponsor. In addition, AFCON is sanctioned by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

History of the Africa Cup of Nations

The tournament was first held in February 1957 in Khartoum, Sudan, as the Abdel Aziz Abdallah Salem Trophy. The Cup was named after its benefactor, the first CAF president, Abdel Aziz Abdallah.

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Egypt went on to win the Cup after defeating Sudan in the final. Ghana became the first country to win the tournament three times in 1978, permanently earning them the trophy.

Cameroon was also rewarded with the African Unity Cup after dominating the tournament since 1978. In 2002, the Cup of Nations trophy was established, and it featured 16 participating teams.

In 2017, the CAF expanded the team slots to 24 and moved the tournament from January to June.

Who is the current African Cup of Nations winner?

Algeria is the current reigning champion. They won the 2019 African Cup of Nations after defeating Senegal in a 1–0 victory. The trophy was Algeria's second championship and the first since 1990.

How often is the Africa Cup of Nations?

Since 1968, the tournament has been held every two years, with the odd-numbered years being adopted in 2013. The adoption prevented the tournament from clashing with the World Cup held after four years.

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Who will host the Africa Cup of Nation 2021?

Africa Cup of Nations
A vendor blows on a vuvuzela while selling Cameroon football attire in Yaounde on January 5, 2022. Photo: by Daniel Beloumou Olomo
Source: Getty Images

Cameroon will host the event, which will take place in 2022. The 33rd tournament was initially set to occur in June and July 2021 but was rescheduled.

On January 15 2020, the CAF announced that the tournament would be held from January 9 to February 6 2021, due to unfavourable weather conditions in June and July. However, further postponements followed after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the continent.

The effects of the pandemic prompted another reschedule, pushing the event to January 2022.

When is the Africa Cup of Nations date?

The event will take place from January 9 to February 6, 2022.

Africa Cup of Nations qualification

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) conducted the 2021 AFCON qualification matches to determine which teams would compete in the 33rd edition. As a result, Cameroon, who qualified automatically as hosts, was one of 24 teams qualified for the final competition. Below is a list of all the qualified teams:

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  1. Cameroon – Hosts / Group F winners
  2. Mali – Group A winners
  3. Guinea – Group A runners-up
  4. Burkina Faso – Group B winners
  5. Malawi – Group B runners-up
  6. Ghana – Group C
  7. Sudan – Group C runners-up
  8. Gambia – Group D winners
  9. Gabon – Group D runners-up
  10. Morocco – Group E winners
  11. Mauritania – Group E runners-up
  12. Cape Verde – Group F runners-up
  13. Egypt – Group G winners
  14. Comoros – Group G runners-up
  15. Algeria – Group H winners
  16. Zimbabwe – Group H runners-up
  17. Senegal – Group I winners
  18. Guinea-Bissau – Group I runners-up
  19. Tunisia – Group J winners
  20. Equatorial Guinea – Group J runners-up
  21. Ivory Coast – Group K winners
  22. Ethiopia – Group K runners-up
  23. Nigeria – Group L winners
  24. Sierra Leone – Group L runners-up

Which countries have won the African Cup of Nations?

Below is a winners list that documents the tournament's champions since 1957.

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  • Egypt – 1957
  • Egypt – 1959
  • Ethiopia – 1962
  • Ghana – 1963
  • Ghana – 1965
  • Congo (Kinshasa) – 1968
  • Sudan – 1970
  • Congo (Brazzaville) – 1972
  • Zaire – 1974
  • Morocco – 1976
  • Ghana – 1978
  • Nigeria – 1980
  • Ghana – 1982
  • Cameroon – 1984
  • Egypt – 1986
  • Cameroon – 1988
  • Algeria – 1990
  • Côte d'Ivoire – 1992
  • Nigeria – 1994
  • South Africa – 1996
  • Egypt – 1998
  • Cameroon – 2000
  • Cameroon – 2002
  • Tunisia – 2004
  • Egypt – 2006
  • Egypt – 2008
  • Egypt – 2010
  • Zambia – 2012
  • Nigeria – 2013
  • Côte d'Ivoire – 2015
  • Cameroon – 2017
  • Algeria – 2019

Who has won the most African Cup of Nations?

Egypt has been the most successful nation in the history of the tournament. It has won the championship seven times, including in 1959, when Egypt and Syria formed the United Arab Republic.

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Three trophies were awarded during the tournament's history, with Ghana and Cameroon earning the first two editions to keep after winning the competition three times. However, the current trophy was presented for the first time in 2002.

Egypt is the only country crowned Africa Cup of Nations winners three times since its inception in 2002. It won the competition in 2006, 2008, and 2010 consecutively.

Africa Cup of Nations standings

The tournament hasn't begun. Thus, all the teams have zero points so far. However, if you are interested in following the results as they come in, football streaming sites will provide you with the information required.

Who is the highest scorer in AFCON?

Africa Cup of Nations
Cameroon's former player Samuel Eto'o poses for a photograph as he arrives for The Best FIFA Football Awards ceremony in London on October 23, 2017. Photo: Glyn Kirk
Source: Getty Images

Cameroonian legend Samuel Eto'o holds the record for most goals scored in the competition, with 18 in six editions. Eto'o is the newly elected president of the Cameroonian Football Federation and a former player for The Indomitable Lions.

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The Africa Cup of Nations is a memorable event. The Cup brings together a diverse range of African nations to compete for the grand prize. Regardless of cultural, political, religious, or linguistic differences, everyone will come together for this football tournament.

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