Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

African Cup of Nations: a Final History

Posted in African Football, International Football by peterbein on January 30, 2010
Egypt Football Team

Egypt is the most successful team in African Nations Cup history.

The African Cup of Nations has come a long way since its inception in 1957 and is now one of the most respected football tournaments in the world. Only three nations participated in the inaugural competition but has steadily risen over the years to become a fully-fledged tournament of 16 teams. In honour of the 27th African Cup of Nations final, which takes place tomorrow between Egypt and Ghana, Stoppage Time takes a look back at previous tournament finals.

It is, perhaps, fitting that the most successful team in the cup’s history were also the first ever champions of the continent. Egypt won the first tournament in 1957 after winning their semi-final against Sudan before going on to easily dispatch of Ethiopia 4-0 in the final with Mohamed Diab el-Attar scoring all four goals. Egypt regained the title as host nation in 1959 beating the same teams as the previous tournament in a mini-league format. Egypt, however, failed to make it three-in-a-row after they lost to hosts Ethiopia in the 1962 final and would not celebrate success in the competition for another two decades.

In 1963 Ghana won their first tournament at home defeating Sudan 3-0 in the final after both teams had topped their groups, each containing three teams. Ghana defended the title two years later after beating host nation Tunisia 3-2 after extra-time but would be the defeated finalists in the next two tournaments against Congo DR in 1968 (1-0) and Sudan in 1970 (3-2). In 1972 Congo, not to be confused with 1968 champions Congo DR, won their only tournament beating Mali 3-2. Zaire, who had won the cup in their previous guise as Congo DR in 1968, reclaimed the title under their new name in 1974 after defeating Zambia 2-0 in the first replayed final in the tournament’s history. In 1976 the format changed whereby the knockout stage was replaced by a final group of four teams after the conclusion of the first round. Morocco won the cup in this year topping the final table from Guinea, Nigeria and Egypt. In the following tournament in 1978 the format reverted back to having a knockout system following the group stage. Ghana celebrated their third triumph after Opoku Afriyie scored both goals in a 2-0 defeat of Uganda.

The 1980 tournament saw Nigeria win their first ever African Cup of Nations after the host nation beat Algeria 3-0. Two years later host country Libya reached the final for the first time but were unfortunate to lose in the first penalty shoot-out to decide an ACN final losing to Ghana 7-6 on spot kicks, a victory which saw the Ghanaians claim their fourth and, hitherto, last title. The 1984 competition saw Cameroon emerge as an African football heavyweight beating Nigeria 3-1. Two years later the Egyptians reached the final for the first time since the group phase finals round of 1976 and emerged triumphant for the third time in their history beating Cameroon on penalty kicks. The next two tournaments saw Nigeria reach the final only to suffer the anguish of defeat on both occasions against Cameroon in 1988 (1-0) and host nation Algeria in 1990 (1-0).

The 1992 tournament saw an expansion of the format from eight teams up to twelve split into four groups of three with an extra knockout round. The Ivory Coast won their first African Cup of Nations title in this tournament beating Ghana 11-10 on penalties after a disappointing final finished 0-0. The 1994 ACN saw Nigeria win the trophy for the second time thanks to a brace from Emmanual Amunike in a 2-1 win over Zambia. The 1996 tournament not only saw a further expansion from twelve to sixteen teams but was also the first tournament in which South Africa were allowed to participate following the country’s re-introduction to the international sporting stage following the end of the Apartheid regime. The Bafana Bafana, as the South African national team are known, exceeded all expectations to win the cup thanks to a 2-0 win over Tunisia, Mark Williams making himself a national hero by scoring both goals. The 1998 tournament was held in Burkina Faso for the first time in the event’s history but saw old favourites Egypt claim their fourth title beating the defending champions South Africa 2-0 in the final.

For the first time in the event’s history the 2000 tournament was held in two countries, Ghana and Nigeria. The latter got to the final, which was held in their home stadium in Lagos, but lost an African Cup of Nations final for the fourth time after losing to Cameroon 4-3 on penalties after a 2-2 draw. Cameroon defended the trophy in 2002 after winning on penalty kicks again, this time against Senegal (3-2 after the match had finished 0-0). The following two competitions were won by host nations as Tunisia beat Morocco 2-1 in 2004 and Egypt beat the Ivory Coast on penalties in 2006. Egypt successfully defended their title in the 2008 competition by narrowly defeating Cameroon 1-0 thanks to a late Mohamed Aboutreika goal.

This year’s final takes place tomorrow in the Angolan capital of Luanda with record champions Egypt looking for a history making third consecutive title and a record increasing seventh title overall but in their way will be a Ghana side who despite not scoring many goals haven’t conceded many goals either and will be a tough nut to crack. The Egyptians are on a high after a 4-0 semi-final victory over eternal rivals Algeria in the usual bad-tempered clash on Thursday whilst Ghana also celebrated success against a rival beating neighbours Nigeria 1-0 thanks to a goal from Asamoah Gyan. Due to their recent record in the tournament Egypt go into the match as favourites but Ghana cannot be underestimated especially as they are a four-times African champion themselves. A truly intriging African Cup of Nations final awaits….

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