The Glory of African Football: A Journey Through the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) History

The African Cup of Nations (AFCON) stands as a testament to the rich and vibrant football culture that permeates the African continent. Since its inception in 1957, AFCON has grown into one of the most prestigious football tournaments, showcasing the talent, skill, and passion of African nations. This exclusive essay will take you on a journey through the history of AFCON, highlighting each tournament’s host nation, the victor, and delving into the records of the highest goal scorers.

I. AFCON’s Inauguration (1957-1959):

The inaugural AFCON took place in 1957 in Sudan, featuring only three teams: Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia. Egypt emerged as the first champions, setting the stage for future editions. The subsequent tournament in 1959 saw Egypt defend their title, hosted again by Sudan.

How did Egypt fare in previous 9 Nations Cup finals - Features - AFCON 2021  - Ahram Online

II. The 1960s: Diverse Hosts and Emerging Giants:

Throughout the 1960s, AFCON witnessed diverse host nations. Ethiopia, Tunisia, Ghana, and Ethiopia again held the tournaments. Ghana became the first nation outside of Egypt to clinch the title in 1963, and in 1965, Ghana hosted the tournament and secured back-to-back victories.

III. The 1970s: A Decade Dominated by One Nation:

Egypt stamped their authority on AFCON in the 1970s. They won three consecutive titles in 1970, 1974, and 1978, further solidifying their status as a football powerhouse. The hosts during this period were Sudan, Egypt, and Ghana, respectively.

IV. The 1980s: Diversity in Winners:

The 1980s showcased diversity in AFCON winners. Nigeria, Ghana, and Algeria claimed the title in 1980, 1982, and 1990, respectively. Nigeria’s triumph in 1980 marked their first AFCON victory, and Algeria’s win in 1990 was historic as the tournament expanded to include eight teams.

It was like winning the World Cup' - Nwosu recounts Nigeria's maiden Africa  Cup of Nations triumph |

V. The 1990s: An Era of South African Inclusion:

South Africa’s readmission to international football in the early 1990s marked a turning point for AFCON. The country hosted the tournament in 1996 and clinched the title, marking their debut in the competition. Other winners during this decade included Algeria, Nigeria, and Egypt.

VI. The 2000s: Egypt’s Renaissance:

Egypt experienced a resurgence in the 2000s, winning AFCON in 2006, 2008, and 2010. The tournament expanded to 16 teams, and the hosts included Ghana, Mali, and Angola during this decade.

VII. The 2010s: Shifts in Power and Exciting Competitions:

Ivory Coast, Zambia, Nigeria, and Cameroon were among the winners in the 2010s. Notably, Zambia’s victory in 2012 was an emotional triumph, while Cameroon’s 2017 win marked their fifth AFCON title. The tournament was hosted by Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, South Africa, and Gabon again during this period.

AFCON 2017 – Cameroon crowned champions for the fifth time after late goal  seals comeback win against Egypt - Sport360 News

VIII. Recent Editions (2020-2023):

Due to unforeseen circumstances such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 AFCON was postponed to 2022, and Cameroon hosted the tournament. The latest edition in 2023 saw another exciting chapter in AFCON’s history.

Highest Goal Scorers:

FIFA, NFF, Football Greats Remember Rashidi Yekini Eight Years After Death  – Channels Television

Throughout AFCON history, prolific goal scorers have left an indelible mark on the tournament. Notable names include Laurent Pokou, Rashidi Yekini, Samuel Eto’o, and Mohamed Salah, each achieving legendary status for their goal-scoring exploits.


AFCON has evolved over the years, reflecting the dynamic nature of African football. From its humble beginnings in 1957 to the modern-day spectacle, the tournament continues to captivate audiences worldwide. As we eagerly await future editions, AFCON remains a symbol of unity, passion, and the extraordinary talent that defines African football.

Written by Punters Digest

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