Football fans have something to be excited about as the major football seasons come to an end; the Africa Cup of Nations. This biennial men’s football tournament is set to take place from 21st June to 19th July 2019. Betting companies will sure capitalize during this month as the stakes are even higher this year. In the spirit of the upcoming tournament, let’s look at the top 10 facts you need to about the Africa Cup of Nations.
10. Three different trophies have been awarded during the Tournament’s history
Throughout the history of the Africa Cup of Nations, three different trophies have been awarded to the winners of the competition. The original trophy, made of silver, was the Abdelaziz Abdallah Salem Trophy, named after the first CAF president, Egyptian Abdelaziz Abdallah Salem. Ghana obtained the right to permanently hold the trophy in 1978 after winning the tournament three times.
The second trophy, Trophy of African Unity (African Unity Cup), was awarded from 1980 to 2000. Cameroon won the Unity Cup indefinitely after they became three-time champions in 2000.
The third and current trophy was revealed in 2001 and was made in Italy. Egypt won the gold-plated cup indefinitely after they became three-time champions in 2010, in an unprecedented achievement by winning three consecutive continental titles. Unlike previous winners who would have then taken the trophy home, Egypt was presented with a special full-size replica that they were allowed to keep.
9. It is held in odd-numbered years
The tournament has been switched to being held in odd-numbered years so as not to clash with the FIFA World Cup. AFCON will also for the first time this year, be held mid-year, away from the traditional January – February window, to alleviate the club-versus-country battles that have marred previous editions.
This was a good decision because I don’t think Liverpool would’ve made it this far to the Champions League final without Salah and Mane.
8. Youngest player to play AFCON
Shiva N’zigou, a Gabonese, is the youngest player to feature and score at the tournament. Shiva was 16 years and 93 days old when he played at the tournament in 2000.
7. Oldest player to play AFCON
Essam El Hadary became the oldest player at 44 years and 21 days to feature in the tournament in 2017. Okay, do people still play professional football at 44 years old? Wow, what an age to be playing football.
6. The Tournament’s top scorer
Cameroonian Samuel Eto’o is the leading overall Cup of Nations scorer, notching 18 goals in six tournaments between 2000 and 2010.
5. Some teams are yet to qualify for the tournament
While some countries are winning the tournaments consecutively, 12 teams are yet to qualify for Africa’s biggest football tournament, including Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Eswatini, Gambia, Lesotho, São Tomé and Príncipe, Seychelles, Somalia, and South Sudan.
4. Most Successful Countries
Egypt has been the most successful country with seven titles, winning in 1957, 1959, 1986, 1998, 2006, 2008 and 2010. Cameroon comes second with five wins (1984, 1988, 2000, 2002 and 2017), and Ghana with four (1963, 1965, 1978 and 1982)
3. About the 2019 tournament
The tournament features 24 teams for the first time in 2019 after CAF decided to expand the tournament in order to enhance competitiveness. Egypt will host the tournament. This was after Cameroon was stripped of hosting it due to delays in the delivery of infrastructure, the Boko Haram Insurgency and the Anglophone Crisis.
Cameroon will enter the tournament as the title defenders.
2. Most tournaments hosted
Egypt hold the record for hosting the most tournaments in 1959, 1974, 1986, 2006 and 2019. Ghana comes second hosting the tournament four times (1963, 1978, 2000 and 2008). Ethiopia and Tunisia tie in third place with three hosting opportunities each.
1. Most tournament wins by players
Egyptian players Essam El Hadary and Ahmed Hassan are the only players in the tournament to have the most wins in history. They both won the trophy in 1998, 2006, 2008 and 2010.
Which team are you supporting this year? Let us know in the comments below.