History of the Africa Cup of Nations

South Africa win in 1996
1996 – South Africa’s players join President Nelson Mandela after winning the 1996 Nations Cup at Soccer City

The Africa Cup of Nations was first played in 1957 and is actually older than its counterpart in Europe, the European Championships, which only began three years later.

The first Nations Cup tournament saw only three teams compete – hosts Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia – after South Africa, originally scheduled to play, were expelled from the newly-formed Confederation of African Football and the competition due to apartheid. They would not return for almost 40 years.

Egypt were the inaugural champions that year, the first of their record seven titles, which puts them comfortably ahead of Ghana and Cameroon, who have four titles to their name.

The Pharaohs recently dominated the competition, winning a trio of consecutive titles between 2006 and 2010, before their aging squad failed to qualify for either 2012, 2013 or 2015.

1984 - Antoine Bell and Roger Milla celebrate Cameroon’s 3-1 victory against Nigeria in Abidjan

The Egyptians were champions in 1959, before hosts Ethiopia won their one and only title in 1962 as the tournament switched to being played in ‘even’ years; something which CAF would reverse some 50 years later for the 2013 tournament to be held in South Africa.

By 1962 the field had grown to eight teams, and Ghana then embarked on a period of dominance as they won four of the next 10 tournaments. However, their last win came in 1982, meaning they have had a 30-year wait for their next title. They will be among the favourites in 2015 though.

Sudan claimed their one and only title in 1970, while Congo-Brazzaville did likewise in 1972. DR Congo, who have also gone under the name of Zaire, had success in 1968 and 1974.

Nigeria won their first of three titles in 1980, before repeating the triumph in 1994. After a long wait, the Super Eagles claimed the title again in 2013. However, they will not be able to defend their title, failing to even qualify for the 2015 competition.

2012 – Zambia upset the odds, beating Ivory Coast on penalties to lift the 2012 Nations Cup trophy

Cameroon’s rise to power came in the 1980s when they won the Nations Cup in 1984 and 1988, before another two successes in 2000 and 2002.

Ivory Coast’s only success came in 1992, when they beat the Black Stars of Ghana 11-10 in an extraordinary penalty shoot-out in the Final that had finished 0-0 in Senegal.

Other winners of the title are Morocco (1976), Algeria (1990), South Africa (1996), Tunisia (2004) and Zambia (2012), making it a fairly exclusive group of just 14 countries to have won the title in the previous 28 installments of the competition.