Confederation of African Football

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The Africa Cup of Nations, also referred to as the African Nations Cup, officially CAN (French for Coupe d’Afrique des Nations), is the main international association football competition in Africa. It is sanctioned by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and was first held in 1957. Since1968, it has been held every two years. The title holder at the time the FIFA Confederations Cup tournament is held qualifies for that competition along with six other title holders, the FIFA World Cup winner and the World Cup hosting nation. In 1957 there were only three participating nations: Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan.  South Africa was originally scheduled to compete, but with Ethiopia’s strenuous objections due to the apartheid policies of the government then in power, was disqualified. Since then, the tournament has grown rapidly in size and stature, making it necessary to hold qualifying matches. The number of participants in the final tournament reached 16 in 1998 (16 teams were to compete in 1996 but Nigeria withdrew, reducing the field to 15), and since then, the format has been unchanged, with the sixteen teams being drawn into four groups of four teams each, with the top two teams of each group advancing to a “knock-out” stage.
Egypt is the most successful nation in the Cup’s history, winning the tournament a record seven times (including the time when Egypt was in a confederation with Syria, and was known as the United Arab Republic (UAR), between 1958 and 1971). Ghana and Cameroon have each won the title four times. Three different trophies have been awarded during the tournament’s history, with Ghana and Cameroon each winning the tournament three times, to keep the first two versions.  The current trophy was first awarded in 2002 and with Egypt winning it indefinitely after winning an unprecedented third consecutive title in 2010.
As of 2013, the tournament will switch to being held in odd-numbered years so that it does not clash with the FIFA World Cup tournament.