By Tawanda Mutasa
The Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON, is a tournament where African countries compete. All fifty plus nations on the continent qualify to participate. With that much diversity, it is rather surprising only a handful of countries have managed to take the cup. Of the fourteen countries who have carried the cup, half have done so more than once.
Egypt- Cream of Africa
Egypt is a country that has the unique feature of being both an African and Asian country. The former Bronze and Iron Age empire has carved a significant mark on continental football.
Egypt successfully won the first two editions of the AFCON tournament in 1957 and 1959 as the United Arab Republic. They went on to win the tournament in 1986, 1998, 2006, 2008, and 2010. Their 2010 victory was against a powerful Ghana that had narrowly failed to be the first African country to make it to the FIFA World Cup semi finals.
Despite being African cream, Egypt’s performance on the world stage has been unimpressive. They have only appeared at the FIFA World Cup in 1934, 1990, and 2018. They have not managed to win the title all three times. The Pharaohs are currently ranked 51 by FIFA.
Cameroon is a country located both in Central Africa and Western Africa. The former German, French, and British colony is home to one of the best football teams in the world.
Cameroon has been crowned African champions five times, in 1984, 1988, 2000, 2002, and 2017. Their 2017 victory was against continental champions, Egypt.
The Cameroonian side has made a record five appearances at the World Cup. In 1990, they became the first African country to reach the quarter finals, with that cream they were subsequently knocked out of the tournament by England. Cameroon is currently ranked 53 by FIFA.
Ghana is a West African country with a reputation for stability and governance. The former British colony is one of the strongest teams on the continent.
Ghana has won the continental cup four times, in 1963, 1965, 1978, and 1982. They have reached the finals five times, losing the 2015 finals to Ivory Coast.
The Black Stars have heavily improved during the 21st century. They qualified for the 2006, 2010, and 2014 World Cup. At the 2010 World Cup, they became the second African country to advance to the quarter finals. Ghana is currently ranked 46 by FIFA.
Nigeria is a West African country that is also Africa’s largest nation. An economic powerhouse, Nigeria has established itself as a football force to be reckoned with.
Nigeria has won the AFCON three times, in 1980, 1994, and 2013. They have been runner ups four times.
The Super Eagles have appeared seven times at the FIFA World Cup, although they have still failed to make it to the quarter finals. The Nigerian side is currently ranked 35 by FIFA.
Algeria is a North African country, and one of the continent’s power houses. While Algeria is nowhere near giants such as Cameroon and Egypt, it has proven it can hold its own in terms of football.
Algeria has won the AFCON twice in 1990 and 2019. In total, they have made the AFCON top four seven times.
The Algerian team has made it to the FIFA World Cup four times. They are currently ranked 31 by FIFA.
Ivory Coast is a West African country that has sadly seen allot of violent political conflict every few years. Despite these challenges, the Ivory Coast soccer team is a force to be reckoned with.
The Elephants have been crowned African champions in 1992 and 2015, both times defeating a much more formidable Ghana. They have made the AFCON top four a total number of ten times.
On the international stage, the West African side has qualified to three World Cups back to back. Ivory Coast has produced football legends and cream of the crop such as Didier Drogba and Yaya Touré. The Elephants are currently ranked 61 by FIFA.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a East African country that sometimes qualifies as a Southern African country for political reasons. The DRC is probably the only country on this list that is not a renowned team.
The Leopards won AFCON in 1968 and 1974. They have managed to finish the AFCON in the top four five times.
On the world stage, DR Congo’s performance has equally unimpressive. Aside from a 1974 qualification to a World Cup where their performance was still mediocre, they do not have many international accolades to boast of. FIFA currently ranks them a surprising 60.
One Time Winners
- South Africa