The African Cup of Nations, often known as AFCON or the African Nations Cup, is Africa’s most important football competition. The Confédération Africaine de Football (CAF) organizes the tournament, which is contested by national teams from all over the continent. The format of the competition has evolved through time, with the number of teams growing from three in 1957 to sixteen in 1996. The escalating interest resulted in the addition of qualification rounds in 1968. Also, in the same year, the CAF chose to hold the tournament biennially.
The First African Cup of Nations
The first African Cup of Nations was contested in Khartoum, Sudan, in February 1957, with Egypt defeating the host nation in the finals to win the Abdel Aziz Abdallah Salem Trophy. The latter was named after its donor, an Egyptian who was the first CAF president. However, later, Ghana became the first country to win the tournament three times, hence the trophy was given to them permanently in 1978.
When Cameroon won its third championship in 1978, the next trophy, the African Unity Cup, was granted to them permanently in 2000. That led to AFCON establishing a new trophy in 2002.
Significance of AFCON
For many years, the African Cup of Nations has served as a platform for testing the abilities of African players.The tournament’s entertaining style of play captivated African spectators in the 1950s and 1960s, attracting European talent scouts, agents, and journalists.
The cup gained a considerable worldwide reputation under the leadership of the Ethiopian, Ydnekachew Tessema, who served as the CAF president from 1972 until his death in 1987. Corporate sponsorships were accepted in 1984, and professionalism was authorized in 1980. Among CAF’s best players are Samuel Eto’o and Laurent Pokou.
Samuel Eto’o of Cameroon, who holds the record for most career goals scored in the Cup of Nations (18), while the Ivorian striker Laurent Pokou, who scored five goals in a 6–1 victory over Ethiopia in 1970, are two of the tournament’s best players.
Will Cameroon Host AFCON in 2022?
Since the onset of the novel virus, many sporting activities across the globe have been suspended. However, with the emergence of coronavirus vaccinations, activities are slowly resuming to normal. AFCON’s next tournament is scheduled for January 2022, and it will take place in Cameroon.
While in the Central African state, CAF Secretary General Véron Mosengo-Omba refuted rumors that Cameroon could be deprived of hosting the continent’s biggest athletic event once again by the Confederation of African Football, as it was in 2019. He acknowledged how beautiful Cameroon was and affirmed that the tournament would take place in Cameroon.
During the press conference, Cameroon Football Federation President Seidou Mbombo Njoya also said:
“Cameroon is unlike any other country when it comes to football. Cameroon is a fantastic football country that needs to be recognized as an integral part of Africa’s celebrations. But I’m speaking on behalf of the Secretary General and under his supervision to state and affirm, and I’ll say it again: there is no option.”