CAF is very popular football tournament in Africa but the original name of the tournament is CAN or Coupe d’Afrique des Nations. The other names of this tournament are AFCON or Total Africa Cup of Nation. This tournament was held for the first time in 1957 after getting sanctioned by Confederation of African Football or CAF. It started to be held in every 2 years since 1968 and the winners of this tournament play in FIFA World Cup. Currently Cameroon holds the position of champion and among all the countries in Africa, Egypt won the tournament for most of the times.
Some Facts about CAF
When it all started in 1957, only 3 countries took part which were Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia. In that year, South Africa was supposed to participate but because of some different kinds of rules by their government they were disqualified.
After all these hassles, the popularity of this tournament grew further. And it became so great that preliminary qualifying round was needed to qualify to play in the main tournament. Till 1998, number and f teams participating came up to 16. In 1996, Nigeria withdrew their name at the last moment and the number was 15. Similarly in 2010, Togo withdrew their name because of some reasons.
Previously there used to be 4 groups with 4 teams in each group and they used to play among each other and then used to come to the knockout stage. But from 2017, the first change was that the tournament started to be held in June instead of January and the number of teams increased to 24 from 16. Till now Egypt holds the record of winning the tournament for the maximum time which 7 times.
The CAF was formed in 1956 after the proposal got sanctioned in third FIFA Congress held in Lisbon. The first tournament was held in Khartoum in Sudan in 1957. The countries who participated were Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia and South Africa. But South Africa insisted to recruit only white players due to their apartheid policy of government and so they were disqualified from the tournament and Ethiopia enjoyed the advantage to go straight to the finals.
Only 2 matches were played and Egypt won the tournament by defeating Sudan at first and Ethiopia in the final match. In the next season also Egypt won the tournament by defeating Sudan and also they hosted the show with same 3 teams in Cairo. In 1962, the tournament was held in Addis Ababa and the number of teams grew to 9 and so a qualifying round took place to decide the four teams to be sent in the final stage. Egypt, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tunisia played in the group stage and Ethiopia won the crown after defeating two times champion Egypt in the extra time.
Then in 1963, Ghana hosted the tournament and won the crown defeating Sudan in the final match. In 1965 the association made a rule that each team can have only two overseas players and this rule sustained till 1982. In 1968, the number of teams increased to 22 and round robin matches were played to decide which teams proceed after the preliminary round to the final stage. In 1986, the dominance of Cameroon started. And Egypt made a come back some years later.
The CAF tournament has three trophies to be awarded to the winning teams. One is the original Trophy named Abdelaziz Abdallah Salem trophy which is named after the first president of CAF. This trophy is made of silver. This trophy was obtained by Ghana for their consecutive wins in 1978.
Then from 1980 to 2000, there was a different trophy named African Unity Cup was started to be awarded to the winners. In. 2000, the cup was permanently given to Cameroon after their three consecutive wins. In 2001, the new trophy was launched which made by gold plating in Italy and this trophy is owned by Egypt right now for their back to back wins in the tournament. But unlike the previous two trophies, Egypt was given the replica of the trophy and not the original one.
Reforms and Sponsors
In July in 2017, there were some changes which were proposed to the president Ahmad Ahmad about the African Cup of Nations.
The first proposal was to switch the timing of the competition. It was changed from January to June, the summer time. The second proposal was expansion of the number of teams from 16 to 24. And all these proposal were granted for the reformation purposes. All these proposal was discussed and approved on 20th July in 2017 in Rabat in Morocco.
The reformations helped this tournament to present itself as a new set of interesting rules as because of increase in the number of teams the Round Robin matches started instead of only knockout matches which was a new thing to watch for the people in CAF tournament. The tournament had a package of 8 years sponsorship to all of its sponsors.
So there was no hassle of getting sponsorship in every season of Africa Nations cup. So this tournament which was started with only three team grieve so large that millions of people started to watch it and sponsors started to consider it as a very profitable market. And now it is one of the most prestigious qualifying tournament to enter into FIFA world cup in Africa.
CAF tornament has become so popular that a lot of people go crazy about this tournament in every 2 years to check which of the African teams qualify into the FIFA World Cup. This is the most famous tournament in African continent in which world class players compete with each other in the football arena. some really good players have come from this tournament and the countries like Egypt, Cameroon, South Africa are gems to the international football. Football industry has expanded through this tournament to the African region in a great extent.