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AFCON history, Important facts and events

AFCON’s life flashback

AFCON history

AFC Genesis

When the name of CAF was proposed by the FIFA congress it led to origin of first tournament of African Cup of Nations in 1956.

The first tournament was readily organized by the Confederation of Africa Football in Sudan being the host team, where there were no qualification rounds. Four founding nations were bestowed the opportunity to take part in the tournament but South Africa due to its policy of only choosing white players was kicked out of the tournament considering their biased behavior.

Egypt posed as the champion of the contest beating both teams fair and square; Sudan in the semi-final and Ethiopia in the ultimate stage. Egypt also won the chance of hosting the second tournament, where same three teams participated. Egypt won for the second time overthrowing both teams in the competition.

The qualification system was brought in action for the first time when third AFCON was organized with nine competitors. Egypt, turned out to be a robust team appearing in the finals for the consecutively the third time; this time against Ethiopia. After the collision of reigning teams the Ethiopia stood as the last team standing beating all the teams and got the title champion.

Victorious role of Ghana

Ghana team was introduced in the tournament for the first time in the history in 1963, and emerged as persistent dominators for the first two tournaments, becoming the equivalent of Egypt.

The CAF was compelled to make the amendment in 1965 the restricting the nations to have only two oversea-player in their squad.

The format of 1968 competitions allowed eight teams to take part in the ultimate tournament out of 22 teams which competed in the qualifying stages.

The final tournament was played in the round-robin manner and the two best teams from each group collided in the semi-finals – the system used to conduct the tournaments until 1992.

Continental Champions from 1960-70

Sudan, Congo-Brazzaville, Zaire, Morocco, Ghana and Nigeria were the reigning teams of the decade. Amid these title holders the team Zaire earned the title for the second time 1974.

But it occurred for the first time in the bygone times of the event that it saw a tie in the final between the confrontation of Zaire and Zambia, where both teams conceded two goals from the each side.

Mulamba Ndaye, playing the role of forward in the Zaire’s team was the hero of nation scoring all of the four goals in these two matches. Aside from that, he also became the top scorer of the event securing nine goals and made a record that persists being undisputedly unprecedented.

Prior to its triumphed victory in the tournament Zaire had already become the first nation to qualify in the FIFA World Cup. In 1976, the team who won the continental title for the first time in history was Morocco which was hosted in Ethiopia and Ghana became the third time champion in 1978.

Cameroonian rulings era

The 1980s ANC title was earned by Nigeria beating the Algeria in the finals where the competition was also hosted by the Nigeria.

Ghana continued its winning streak in the 1982s defeating the Algeria in the semi-finals in the very extra-time, and afterwards confronted the Libya in the final match. But no one was declared the winner in the main time ending up in a 1-1 draw but Ghana won in penalty shootouts to become ruling champion.

After two years, Cameroon emerged as a the dominator crushing the Nigerian team and later in 1986 cup, went head to head with Egypt who had remained absent in the final from 1962, but the Egypt was able to earn the title winning the triumph in penalty kicks.

Cameroon came back for the third time in a row to compete on the final ground and was able to tuck the victory in their bags and brought it home from the hands of Nigeria the second championship title.


South Africa’s dramatic come-back

Nigeria suffered the blow again, as they reached the final for third time in four tournaments – this time from Algeria.

The evolution process of the event showed its signs in 1992 cup of nations when the number of teams to participate in the final tournament stages was widened to 12.

The format was such that the teams were divided into the four groups of three in such a way that one top contender and the runner-up team from each group would be given the chance to participate in the quarter-finals.

The top player from the event namely Abedi “Pelé” Ayew efficient mid-fielder delivered netted thrice against opponents teams, was awarded the ‘best player’ title for his struggle and gave a boost to Ghana to the enter the finals; but after all he stripped of the chance to play in the final match as he was suspended and consequently Ghana was beaten in the penalty shootouts in which both tried their luck 11times to be the winner.                                  

Côte d’Ivoire made a record barring the opponents from not scoring a single goal in six matches in the ultimate tournament.

After two years the tournament was conducted in the same 12-team, 3 -group manner where Tunisia was degraded by their early elimination in the very first round.  

Zambia was beaten by the Nigeria in final, who had earned the entry to the World Cup first time in the history. However,  Zambia also had a disadvantage of being down on luck as they suffered a blow when almost their whole squad died in the plane crash, when they heading for the qualification match of 1994 World cup.

Rashidi Yekini was again the show stopper in the tournament after being in 1992 contest, scoring five goals this time to stand atop the best players list of the tournament.

At last in 1996 the restraints loosened on South Africa after decades of restriction to debut in the ACN competition, first time in the life-time journey of the tournament when the nation demolished the disease of apartheid in itself and disappointment from the lost attempt to take part in 1994 edition of ACN cup. The number of final round contestants has been stretched to 16 since 1996, with the split of the teams in four groups.

Nonetheless, only 15 teams were fighting to be the champion because the Nigeria pulled out due to political concerns in the last occasions. Bfana Bafana emerged as the dominant winner on their home-ground exorcising the Tunisia in the final.

The unfortunate South Africans broke into the final stage to face Egypt after two years but the title was seized by the Egypt becoming the four-time AFN reigning champion.


ANC on second millennium

Ghana and Nigeria contributed for the hosting of the event, who were working in the place of Zimbabwe who was initially expected to host the contest. Cameroon beat Nigeria fair and square in the extra time following their 2-2 tie in the head to head showing their guts in penalty kicks.

After 2 years the Cameroon’s undisputed champs were responsible in racking the second–in-a-row title where Ghana had done it in 1960 and the Egypt’s had did the same in 1957 and 1959. Senegal reached the finals but was overthrown by the Cameroonians who had recently made entry for the first time in the biggest battle-ground of the football, World Cup.

After two years both teams were eliminated in2004 and Tunisia being the hosts won the tournament delivering 2 goals to Morocco in the final while only conceding one goal in the final. In 2006, Egypt won the title for the fifth time in the continental challenge to win the crown.

European clubs proposed to consider the tournament strategy again at the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations regarding the issues due to tournament where the players could not take part in the various matches of the clubs.

FIFA’s president Sepp Blatter made it public that he was interested on conducting the tournament in June or July 2016, to make it suitable in the international calendar.

However, this would result in excluding an armful of countries located in central and geographically in the West Africa from hosting the contest. Ghana conducted the 2008 tournament in its realm and saw Egypt being reluctant from letting go of trophy and prolonging their streak with the victory of 1-0 upon the final ground.

Tournament to the decade-end

A robust record was made by the Egypt, who collected unprecedented victory in the 2010 tournament that was held and hosted in the Angola, of winning triumph on continental level following the 1-0 defeat they gave to Ghana and adding the golden reward in their anthology of Cups. The Egypt had so far racked 7 continental titles and also known as the  first one to win the title for consecutively three times and later other who teams equalized the Egypt in this case were Mexico, Argentina, and Iran.

The tournament at the end of the decade brought the Egypt to a new level of victory where the Egypt set a giant record of remaining indomitable for 19 Cup of Nation matches, ever since they lost against Algeria with 2-1 goals in Tunisia precisely in 2004 and skyrocketed with the streak of 9 win streak.

In 2010 it was decisive that the competition will be held on odd-numbers upon nearing years from 2013. This also implied that it would take place on the same year the World Cup would be held afterwards the year of 2013. Precisely both events would happen in the ten months between January 2012 and January 2013.    

Winners of AFC were unprivileged, by the amendments in FIFA Confederations Cup as it became quadrennial tournament from a biennial one and the changes in the AFC from even to odd-number years, to participate in the confederation cup namely Egypt, Zambia and Ivory Coast winners.

The Morocco was one to host the event in 2015 edition as it won the bid and Libya won the chance the 2013 tournament. Consequent to the Libyan civil war, Libya and South Africa made a deal so that South Africa would get the right of hosting 2013 and Libya will be allowed to host the event in 2017.

The penalty shootout essentially enabled Zambia to win in 2012 facing Côte d’Ivoire. It also amassed enough media attention as the event was happening right near the place of air crash location of 1993, where more than half of the national team met its demise. Nigeria defeated the Burkina Faso – the last team in their way to the crown.

Later in 2014, it must be taken into account that African Cup was completely barred by the Ebola epidemic. The whole Antoinette Tubman Stadium in Monrovia, Liberia was transformed into a treatment facility for Ebola. On 24 July Liberia was taken away from all football activities.

Ultimately, the 2015 edition of AFC was due to be take place on the grounds of Morocco, but the disagreement on the designated dates resulted from crisis of Ebola plague, brought the contest in hands of Equatorial Guinea.

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AFCON history, Important facts and events


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