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AFCON: Dates, history, teams, previous winners & much more

The Africa Cup of Nations, or AFCON as it is commonly known, is the premier men's international football competition in Africa.

(This article was originally published on 24.01.2022)

Steeped in history, AFCON was first held in 1957 and the tournament has grown exponentially since then, with 24 teams set to compete at the finals when the next edition takes place in early 2024.

The growth of African football as a whole over the last half a century means some of the world's best players can be seen competing at AFCON, with the likes of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto'o having lit up the tournament in recent years.

What2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON)
WhereIvory Coast
When13th January - 11th February 2024

What is AFCON?

The Africa Cup Of Nations is an international men's football tournament which takes place every two years.

Only three teams - Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt - competed at the first finals in 1957, with the latter emerging triumphant, but these days as many as 52 nations attempt to qualify for the tournament, with 24 making it through to the finals.

How does AFCON work?

AFCON was extended from a 16-team tournament to 24 ahead of the 2019 finals in Egypt and the format has remained unchanged since then, with the finalists being split into six groups of four.

The top two in each group automatically qualify for the knockout stages and they are joined by the four best third-placed sides, meaning only eight of the 24 teams go home after the groups.

From there, the tournament operates in a straight knockout format, similar to the World Cup and European Championships.

The eventual champions have to negotiate their way through a total of seven matches before they can lift the trophy aloft.

When is AFCON?

The next AFCON will be the 34th edition of the tournament and, although it has been branded as the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, it is scheduled to take place from the 13th January - 11th February 2024.

Where is AFCON?

AFCON 2023 will be held in the Ivory Coast. This will be the second time the country has hosted the tournament, as they previously staged the finals in 1984.

How many times has AFCON taken place?

Next year's finals will be the 34th edition of AFCON, with the first tournament having been staged in Sudan in 1957.

The tournament has primarily been held every two years, with the most recent edition taking place in 2022, although it was billed as the 2021 competition.

Who are the current AFCON champions?

Senegal won the most recent edition of AFCON, beating Egypt 4-2 on penalties after the two teams played out a 0-0 draw during the final in Yaounde, Cameroon.

Sadio Mane scored the decisive penalty for Senegal in that final, as the Lions of Teranga were crowned African champions for the very first time.

Who has won AFCON on the most occasions?

Despite losing the most recent final, Egypt are the most successful team in AFCON history, as they have lifted the trophy a record seven times, with the most recent of those successes coming in 2010.

Cameroon are next on the list with five titles, including their victory over Egypt in the 2017 final, while Ghana have four triumphs to their name and Nigeria three.

The only other nations to have been crowned AFCON champions more than once are Ivory Coast, Algeria and DR Congo, who have all lifted the trophy twice.

Who are the favourites for AFCON?

Qualifying for the next edition of AFCON will not reach a conclusion until September, but 15 teams have already secured their places at the finals, including hosts Ivory Coast.

The Elephants are likely to be among the favourites to lift the trophy on home soil, along with defending champions Senegal, World Cup semi-finalists Morocco and AFCON specialists Egypt, who have all already qualified for the finals as well.

The other teams who have secured their places at the tournament already are Algeria, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Tunisia, Zambia, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, Mali and Guinea.

That means some big names such as Cameroon, Ghana and DR Congo are yet to qualify, although all three of those nations do look well-placed to do so.

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