By Beng Emmanuel
The African Cup of Nations,AFCON, is the continent’s most celebrated football event. Over the years, this tournament has evolved but has maintained its undenying beauty as nations scramble to conquer the continent.
Since 1957, when the maiden edition took place, about seventeen nations have hosted the competition. Only Gabon/Equatorial Guinea and Ghana/Nigeria have staged the event as co-host.
Stagging a competition such as the afcon is regarded as an achievement but converting the continent’s most cherished trophy on home soil is an unforgettable exploit. Indeed, it sounds impossible to say a host nation can withstand opponents with lots of pressure and constraints before their own crowd. However, sometimes the greatest myth are turned to reality.
Here are some African host nations who made history before their fans.
🇪🇬1959- United Arab Republic
In 1959, the United Arab Republic beat Sudan 2-1 in a decisive match at the Prince Farouk Stadium in Cairo. Essam Baheeg scored a brace including an 89th-minute winner as the host won their second continental trophy.
The 1959 Afcon was unique due to its round-robin format instead of knock out stage.
Only three competing nations took part; the United Arab Republic (host), Sudan, and Ethiopia.
A scintillating performance from Ethiopia prevented Egypt from clinching a third title in a row. Before an attendance of 30000 fans at the Hailé Selassié stadium, the host won their first-ever title.
Ghana won her first title after a comfortable game against Sudan during the fourth edition of the tournament.
The Black Stars roared by their fans stormed Sudan 3-0 although the first half ended goalless. This was the third time a host nation had won the competition.
Hasab El-Rasoul Omer Ali scored a 12th minute goal as Sudan edged Ghana 1-0 to become champions of Africa for the first time in their history.
Sudan had to take out the United Arab Republic after extra time to reach the final.
102,187 fans attended the final at the Municipal Stadium.
The 16th of March 1978 remains a memorable day for football fans in Ghana.
The Black Stars made amends before their home crowd after losing to Sudan in the final in 1970.
They edged Uganda 2-0 in an entertaining final at the Accra Sports Stadium and won their third continental title.
Segun Odegbami’s first-half brace and Muda Lawal decent finish propelled Nigeria to the summit of the continent as Nigeria beat Algeria 3-0 in Lagos.
Their outstanding display during the tournament earned them lots of respect and admiration from their fans and the entire continent.
This was probably the most dramatic final in the history of Afcon in the ’90s.
Host Egypt struggled before a resilient Cameroonian side and could only lift the trophy after a 5-4 win on penalties after a goalless game.
Cameroon’s Grégoire Mbida and Andre Kana-Biyik failed to covert their penalties while Thomas N’kono saved only one spot-kick as the Lions lost despite coming close.
1990 final was a repeat of 1980 final where Nigeria beat Algeria emphatically.
This time the roles and outcomes were reversed. Algeria edged Nigeria 1-0 to become African Champions.
Cherif Oudjani scored the lone of the game to spark waves of excitement at the Stade Juillet 1962 in Algiers.
South Africa won its first afcon title beating Tunisia 2-0 in Johannesburg.
Former Wolverhampton Wanderers striker, Mark Williams came off the bench to score twice within three minutes barely eight minutes after making his entering.
The final was attended by former South Africa president Nelson Mandela.
🇹🇳2004-Tunisia The Stade 7 Novembre in Rades exploded with joy after Tunisia beat North African rivals Morocco to become the first host nation since 1996 to get hold of the trophy.
Ziad Jaziri scored the winner during the tense final for Tunisia shortly after resuming from the break. Both teams were leveled (1-1) at halftime.
Egypt won the title for the fifth time by beating Cote d’Ivoire 4-2 on penalties.
Didier Drogba and Bakari Kone both failed to score from the spot as the Egyptians created a record in Africa.
Since 2006, no-host country has been able to win the men’s football tournament at home talkless of making it to the final. Even Egypt in 2019 crashed out at the quarter-finals to South Africa.
Cameroon is poised to host the tournament in 2021. The five-time African Champions last hosted the event in 1972. Could they be able to reproduce the performances of former host countries?
Ivory Coast and Guinea are future hosts for 2023 and 2025. Will they be any difference?. Only time will tell.
One thing is certain, the tougher the battle, the sweeter the victory. Only the strong will conquer.
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