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The Africa Cup (official English Africa Cup of Nations and French Coupe d’Afrique des Nations; is a football tournament organised by the African Football Association CAF, in which the African national football associations determine their continental champion. The African Cup winner in each FIFA Confederations Cup year qualifies for the tournament.

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The Africa Cup of Nations must be distinguished from the African Nations Championship, a tournament in which only players who play in the national championships of their home countries are eligible.

The Africa Cup was founded in 1957. Since 1968, the finals have been held every two years. In 2010, the CAF decided to hold the Africa Cup in odd years with effect from 2013, so that it would not fall into one year with World and European Championships.

At the first edition in 1957 there were only three participants: Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia; South Africa wanted to participate, but was excluded due to the politics of apartheid. Since then, the tournament has grown steadily, necessitating a qualifying round. In 2019, 24 teams will take part in the Africa Cup for the first time. From then on, the following mode will apply: the teams will play a preliminary round in six groups of four teams each. The two best teams in each group and the best four third teams in each group reach the final round, which – starting with the round of 16 – is played in the knockout system.

The most successful nation in the African Cup editions to date is Egypt, which won the title seven times in total, winning three consecutive tournaments in 2006, 2008 and 2010. Cameroon with five and Ghana with four titles follow in second and third place.

First participations

Up to and including the 1974 Africa Cup, there was always at least one national football team that took part in an Africa Cup finals for the first time. Below is a list of the 43 first participants, each with the flags and names valid at the time. In addition, seven countries are listed in brackets, which for the first time only took part in an Africa Cup under a new name. The Confédération Africaine de Football (CAF) comprises a total of 56 national football associations.

The trophies

In the history of the competition, three different trophies have been awarded to the respective winners. The first two trophies were given to the winning federation after the third title. Afterwards the counting method for all federations began anew.

The first trophy was the “Abdel Aziz Abdallah Salem Trophy”, named after the first president of the CAF, the Egyptian Abdel Aziz Abdallah Salem. Ghana received this silver trophy after winning his third title in 1978.

The also silver “Trophy of African Unity” or “African Unity Cup” was awarded from 1980 and went to Cameroon in 2000 after his third title win. The trophy was handed over by the CAF High Council for African Sport before the 1980 tournament and was characterised by a long silver cylinder with the contours of the African continent and Olympic rings as well as long triangular handles.

Since 2001 a third, now golden cup (“African Cup of Nations”) has been awarded, which was designed and manufactured in Italy. According to the rules of the African Cup, this third trophy will not become the permanent property of a three-time winner. It is owned by the CAF and will be awarded as a trophy at the upcoming tournaments. The winners of the Africa Cup will receive a replica. Egypt will receive a full-size copy as a special award for the third 2010 Africa Cup win.

Africa Cup participants confirmed

After the last matchday in the Africa Cup qualifier at the weekend, the 24 participating countries have been selected. Burundi are now the third country in their history to take part in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) for the first time, alongside Madagascar and Mauritania, who completed their qualifiers in October and November respectively.

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For the Burundi underdog, a 1-1 defeat of Gabon, superstar and captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s favourite in Group C, was enough for the Burundi underdog not to take part in the tournament. According to, the market value of Aubameyang alone is more than seven times higher than that of the entire Burundian national team.

The Tanzania team also qualified for the Africa Cup for the first time since 1980. With a clear 3:0 against Uganda, the Tanzanians passed Lesotho to secure second place in Group L.

Although Namibia lost 4-1 away in Lusaka, Zambia, the losers left the field as AFCON participants. Despite having the same number of points, the Namibians were able to qualify for second place due to their direct comparison with Mozambique.

The Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA), on the other hand, caused a stir during last October’s qualifying round: Because SLFA President Isha Johansen and General Secretary Christopher Kamara were dismissed from their posts, FIFA suspended all SLFA teams from their international competitions due to “government interference”. The suspension of the Sierra Leoner made it easy for the Ghanaian and Kenyan national teams to secure the top two places in Group F. The Sierra Leoner’s suspension was a major blow to the country’s chances of becoming the top two team in Group F. The Sierra Leoner’s team was also able to take part in the tournament. The two teams had already qualified before the duel, which the Ghanaian side won 1-0 on Sunday.

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The Africa Cup 2019 will be held in Egypt from 15 June to 13 July 2019, after Cameroon were deprived of their right to host the event due to a lack of infrastructure at the end of last year. The fact that the AFCON will be played for the first time this year between 24 instead of 16 countries caused additional problems for the Cameroonian organisation.