While the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) might not be as popular as its European or South American equivalents, for football fans in the African continent, it is the second most prestigious trophy for countries from Africa. And as such, it is treated with much anticipation in Africa.
The coming AFCON will be the 31st edition of the competition, and will be held in Gabon, with matches commencing on the 14th of January. 16 nations from the continent will take part in next year’s competition, and the final will be held on 5th February.
We take a look at the countries who have won the AFCON the most number of times:
#5 Ivory Coast – 2-time winners
While the Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of Congo have both won the same number of titles (2), the former have been runners-up twice (most recently in 2012) and therefore make this list over the latter.
Ivory Coast go into the AFCON as the defending champions, having won the tournament’s last edition. Their other victory came back in 1992, and with a strong team at their disposal – despite missing the likes of the Toure brothers who have now retired – the country will be looking for their 3rd victory in Africa’s most prestigious footballing competition.
Serge Aurier, Wilfried Bony and Adama Traore are some of the key names for the Ivorians.
#4 Nigeria – 3-time winners
Nigeria won their first AFCON tournament in 1980 and were the host country in that edition of the competition. Since then, the nation has emerged victorious two more times – in 1994 and in 2013. They have also finished as runners-up 4 times, the second most in the competition’s history.
The biggest surprise of the qualification stages this time around was the fact that Nigeria failed to qualify for the competition. It came as a massive shock in a country mad about its football that the 3-time champions could not make it to Africa’s elite.
Despite this most recent setback, however, the country is brimming with young talent, most notably the likes of Kelechi Ihenacho, Alex Iwobi and Ahmed Musa leading the strike attack. They will be hoping to return stronger in the 2019 edition of this tournament.
#3 Cameroon – 4-time winners
As well as having the distinction of being the first African team to reach the World Cup quarter-finals (a feat they achieved in 1990), Cameroon are joint second on the list of most AFCON victories with the nation having lifted the trophy four times.
Despite not having many famous players in Europe, Cameroon have managed to do generally well in this competition and have finished as runners-up last in 2008, with their wins coming in the years 1984, 1988, 2000 and 2002 respectively. Cameroon have also qualified for the World Cup more times than any other African nation.
They will be hoping to do better their group stage exit from last time around.
#2 Ghana – 4-time winners
Ghana have played in a record nine AFCON finals, and have also lost a record five. The latter statistic is why they are one above fellow 4-time winners Cameroon in this prestigious list.
Their first win came in the 1963 edition when they hosted the tournament for the first time. They successfully defended their title in the next edition and won it for a third time in 1978 (they were the host nation at that time too), and then for a fourth time in 1982.
Ghana reached the finals of the last AFCON tournament, only to lose to current champions Ivory Coast. Notable European team players that play for Ghana are the Ayew brothers, Christian Atsu and Jeff Schlup.
#1 Egypt – 7-time winners
The other teams on this list have some catching up to do if they hope to match Egypt’s brilliant record in this competition, let alone beat it.
Lifting the trophy a record seven times, while also having the distinction of winning it the most times as a host country (3), Egypt are the undisputed kings of the competition. They have played in eight finals and won all of them but one, their only defeat coming in 1962 and their latest victory coming in 2010 (where they successfully defended their crown).
Egypt were also the very first team to qualify for the World Cup, achieving the feat in 1934. Arsenal player Mohamed El Neny and Roma forward Mohammed Salah are two notable names to play for the country as they head into this competition being one of the favourites (yet again).