The biennual African Cup of Nations tournament has been played since 1957 and is thereby older than the corresponding European championship. In February 1957, beneath the heat of the Nubian Desert in Sudan, few could have predicted the expansion of the African Nations Cup.
That was precisely the aim of a meeting between seven delegates in Lisbon the previous year.
There the Confederation of African Football was formed and the organisation planned the first tournament for the following year in Khartoum.
However, as the start date drew near, there were a few hurdles to overcome, such as the exclusion of South Africa after the apartheid regime failed to approve a multi-racial team.
So with South Africa out, the tournment came down to a play-off between just three teams – Egypt, hosts Sudan and Ethiopia.
Ironically, 39 years later, at the end of apartheid, South Africa returned to rescue Caf by staging the expanded 16-team event after Kenya withdrew as hosts.
Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia played the first two tournaments in odd years before it increased to four, six, eight, 12 and then 16 teams.
Every adjustment increased the chances of seeing the best players in the continent. Papa Camara, Petit Sory and Cherif Souleymane were the cream of an excellent Guinean side who could easily be compared to the devastating Nigerian and Cameroonian squads of the last decade.
Few Africans today would have heard of the Algerian Lalmas, Ghanaian dribbling wizard Osei Kofi or Ethiopian captain Italo Vassalo – they were among a host of legends to play in the Nations Cup tournaments of the 1960s.
Since the early days, North Africa – and Ghana in particular – has maintained its reputation, while the other pioneers Ethiopia and Sudan have deteriorated.
In the space of 30 years there has been an amazing shift of power – a classic between Ethiopia and Sudan (both former champions) in the 1960s is now overshadowed by a match between Cameroon against Nigeria.
|COUNTRY||WINNERS||Second Place||Third Place|
1957 - Egypt 1959 - Egypt 1962 - Ethiopia 1963 - Ghana 1965 - Ghana 1968 - DR Congo (Zaire) 1970 - Sudan 1972 - Congo 1974 - DR Congo 1976 - Morocco 1978 - Ghana 1980 - Nigeria 1982 - Ghana 1984 - Cameroon 1986 - Egypt 1988 - Cameroon 1990 - Algeria 1992 - Ivory Coast 1994 - Nigeria 1996 - South Africa 1998 - Egypt 2000 - Cameroon 2002 - Cameroon 2004 - Tunisia 2006 -
African Nations Cup hosts
1959 - Egypt 1962 - Ethiopia 1963 - Ghana 1965 - Tunisia 1968 - Ethiopia 1970 - Sudan 1972 - Cameroon 1974 - Egypt 1976 - Ethiopia 1978 - Ghana 1980 - Nigeria 1982 - Libya 1984 - Ivory Coast 1986 - Egypt 1988 - Morocco 1990 - Algeria 1992 - Senegal 1994 - Tunisia 1996 - South Africa 1998 - Burkina Faso 2000 - Ghana and Nigeria 2002 - Mali 2004 - Tunisia Source: ghanaweb.com