The top international men’s football competition in Africa is called the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON). The competition launched in 1957 with Egypt claiming its first title.
Only Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan took part in the inaugural competition, with Egypt defeating Ethiopia 4-0 to claim the title of first AFCON champion.
Egypt has since then bagged seven AFCON championships ahead of any other African country, with Cameroon coming next with five victories. The current champion is Senegal following AFCON’s recent tournament.
AFCON has grown to be the largest football tournament in Africa, with 24 nations participating in the main draw and 52 in the qualifying rounds, from a minor competition with only three teams in its first edition.
AFCON was first held at inconsistent periods but from 1968 it was changed to a biannual event. The competition level was further raised by the tournament’s gradual expansion to eight teams in 1968.
However, in order to avoid conflicts with the FIFA World Cup in even years, the African Cup of Nations was moved to odd years in 2013.
Between 1970 and 1980, six nations, including five teams who won it for the first time, claimed the continental crown. AFCON’s field was expanded to 12 in 1992 and 16 in 1996 as a result of new countries joining CAF.
Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast), Sadio Mane (Senegal), and Mohamed Salah were among the best players to ever compete in the competition (Egypt).
Samuel Eto’o, an Olympic gold medalist and legendary player for Cameroon, leads all scorers in the AFCON with 18 goals. Laurent Pokou of the Ivory Coast is second with 14.
The Africa Cup of Nations has been held 33 times and has been won by 14 different nations to date. It is hosted by the Confederation of African Football (CAF), the continent’s football governing body.
Full list of winners
With seven championship victories, including a hat-trick between 2006 and 2010, Egypt is the most successful side in the list of AFCON victors. On three instances (1962, 2017 and 2021) they came in second place, and on three other occasions they came in third (1963, 1970 and 1974).
With five titles and three additional podium positions, Cameroon is the second-most successful team in the AFCON.
After the FIFA World Cup and the UEFA European Championship, the AFCON is the third-largest football competition in the world.
Each of the eight teams who advanced to the quarterfinals of the recent AFCON received $1.175 million. While each of the four teams who advanced to the tournament’s semifinals won $2.2 million.
The prize money for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations champions was $5 million, and the prize money for the runners-up was $2.75 million.