The 2019 AFCON kicked off two days ago, and the excitement is already buzzing. The African Cup of Nations is known for its drama, remarkable matches and memorable matches.
Here are 15 quick facts about the tournament.
(1) This is the 32nd edition of the biennial tournament, and it is scheduled to hold between the 21st of June to the 19th of July. This is the first time that it will be held in the summer unlike previous editions that were held between January and February— CAF made this decision in order to avoid club versus country clashes over players which has marred the tournament over the years.
(2) Since 2017, the tournament has been renamed TOTAL AFRICAN CUP OF NATIONS. This is as a result of an 8-year deal between CAF and the tournament’s official sponsor, TOTAL.
(3) Defending champions, Cameroon were initially supposed to host the tournament but were stripped of the hosting rights by CAF due to concerns over delay in infrastructure, Boko Haram insurgency and Anglophone crisis.
(4) Egypt are hosting the AFCON for a record 5th time, having hosted it in 1959, 1974, 1986 and 2006. Egypt won three out of the previous four tournaments they hosted.
(5) The tournament will be held in six venues across four cities namely:- Cairo international stadium in Cairo, 30 June stadium in Cairo, Alexandria stadium in Alexandria, Suez stadium in Suez, Ismailia stadium in Ismailia and Al Salam stadium in Cairo.
(6) For the first time in history, 24 teams will be participating in the AFCON unlike previous years were 16 teams competed. The 24 teams are divided into six groups with four teams in each group. The top two teams from each group will be joined by four best third-placed teams in the round of 16.
(7) Burundi, Madagascar, and Mauritania are making their first-ever appearances at the AFCON while Tanzania(coach by Nigerian legend, Emmanuel Amuneke) are making their first appearance in 39 years.
(8) Twelve(12) countries have never qualified for the AFCON in history. They are:- Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Eswatini, Gambia, Lesotho, Sao Tome & Principe, Seychelles, Somalia, and South Sudan.
(9) The official mascot of the tournament, Tut, was named after Egyptian Pharaoh, Tutankhamun, while the official match ball is Neo Pro(Umbro designed the ball).
(10) For the first time in the tournament’s history, the Video Assistant Referee(VAR) will be used. The VAR will be used beginning from the quarterfinal stages of the tournament.
(11) CAF have also increased the prize bonus of the tournament. The Quarterfinalists will get $800,000 each, and the Semifinalists will get $2 million each, the Runners-up will get $2.5 million while the Champions will get $4.5 million.
(12) The most successful countries in the tournament’s history are:- Egypt(7), Cameroon(5), Ghana(4), Nigeria(3), DR Congo(2) and Ivory Coast(2).
(13) Cameroon legend, Samuel Eto’o Fils, is the all-time top scorer in AFCON history with 18 goals in 6 tournaments between 2000-2010.
(14) Since 2013, the AFCON is being held in odd-numbered years to avoid clashing with the FIFA World Cup.
(15) Egyptian goalkeeper, Essam Al-Hadary became the oldest player in the tournament’s history when he appeared for Egypt in the 2017 final against Cameroon aged 44years and 21days while Shiva N’zigou of Gabon became the youngest to feature and also to score at the AFCON when he scored against South Africa in 2000 aged just 16 years and 93 days.